Toronto Cocktail Recipe

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Toronto Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Toronto cocktail has its roots in the Prohibition era, when Canadian whiskey was smuggled across the border into the United States. It was first documented in the 1922 book 'Cocktails: How to Mix Them' by Robert Vermeire. The drink is a classic whiskey cocktail that has gained popularity among whiskey enthusiasts and those who appreciate a well-balanced, spirit-forward drink.

How Toronto Tastes?

The Toronto cocktail is a rich, bold, and slightly sweet drink with a hint of bitterness from the Fernet-Branca. The rye whiskey provides a strong, spicy backbone, while the simple syrup and orange peel garnish add a touch of sweetness and citrus.

Interesting facts about Toronto

  • The Toronto cocktail is named after the city of Toronto, Canada, where it is believed to have originated.
  • Fernet-Branca, an Italian bitter herbal liqueur, is a key ingredient in the Toronto cocktail, adding complexity and depth to the drink.
  • The Toronto is often compared to the Old Fashioned, another classic whiskey cocktail, but with a more pronounced bitter element.


Rye Whiskey

Rye whiskey is the backbone of the Toronto, providing a bold, spicy kick. It's strong enough to stand up to the potent Fernet-Branca; if you reduce its quantity, the drink can become too bitter. Substitute bourbon if you prefer sweeter notes, but expect a less spicy profile.

Emma Rose


Fernet-Branca is like the mysterious stranger at the bar—a bit bitter, a bit herbal, and very intriguing. At 0.25 oz, it adds complexity without overpowering. Omit this, and the cocktail loses its signature edge. Swap it for another amaro for a change in the bitterness profile.

Alex Green

Simple Syrup

This touch of sweetness balances the intensity, acting like the friend who knows just how to cool down an argument. Too much, and you'll drown the other flavors; too little, and the bitterness may be too much. Honey could be swapped in for a richer sweetness.

Mary Mitkina

Angostura Bitters

The equivalent of a dash of pepper in a gourmet dish—2 dashes provide a spicy, herbal touch that ties the drink together. Go without, and the cocktail feels unfinished. You could experiment with other bitters to slightly adjust the spice palette.

Emma Rose

Orange Peel

An orange peel is the garnish that adds a zesty flair. Its oils, expressed over the cocktail, give an aromatic lift that contrasts beautifully with the drink's depth. No peel might leave the cocktail feeling one-dimensional. A lemon peel could be a zesty alternative.

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Toronto Drink

  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Add 2 oz of rye whiskey, 0.25 oz of Fernet-Branca, 0.25 oz of simple syrup, and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters.
  3. Stir the mixture for 20-30 seconds until well chilled.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a chilled Old Fashioned glass with a large ice cube.
  5. Express the oils from an orange peel over the drink and garnish with the peel.

Pro Tips

  • Chill your glass before serving to keep the cocktail cold longer.
  • Use a large ice cube in the glass to slow down dilution.
  • Express the orange peel over the drink to release the oils and add a citrus aroma.

Perfect Pairings

Cheese & Charcuterie

Pair the Toronto with a bold blue cheese or a plate of assorted charcuterie. The smoky and spicy notes of rye whiskey, paired with the herbaceous Fernet, cut through the richness of the meats and cheeses, elevating both the drink and the food.

Grilled Meats

A great companion would be grilled steak or barbecue ribs. The strength of the whiskey is a fine match for the charred flavors of the meat, while the bitter elements from Fernet-Branca and Angostura balance the sweetness of barbecue sauces.

Dark Chocolate

Enjoy the Toronto with dark chocolate desserts. The bitterness of the chocolate matches the Fernet's profile, and the orange's citrus aroma complements the cocoa's depth.

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What you could change in Toronto

  • Bourbon can be used in place of rye whiskey for a sweeter cocktail.
  • If Fernet-Branca is not available, another bitter herbal liqueur like Campari can be used.
  • Maple syrup can replace simple syrup for a Canadian twist.

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And of course - twists🍹

Maple Toronto

Replace simple syrup with maple syrup for a Canadian twist. The maple's earthy sweetness complements the rye's spiciness and adds a woody note perfect for autumn evenings.

Smoky Toronto

Use a dash of smoky mezcal in place of some rye whiskey. The smoky element introduces a new layer of complexity while maintaining the original's strong character—a nod to the mysterious smoky bars of yesteryear.

Chocolate Orange Toronto

Add a barspoon of chocolate bitters alongside the Angostura. The chocolate's richness plays beautifully with the orange's zestiness, giving a nod to those timeless chocolate-orange confections, perfect for dessert.

In case you forgot basics how to make Toronto

The basic composition of simple syrup is relatively straightforward – a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water. This mixture is heated until the sugar dissolves, resulting in a clear, sweet syrup.

Learn everything about simple syrup

Place your chosen strainer on top of the shaker or mixing glass, ensuring a secure fit. Pour the cocktail into a glass through the strainer, which will catch solid ingredients and ice. If double straining, hold the fine mesh strainer between the shaker and the glass.

Learn everything on how to strain

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Toronto

Can I use different types of whiskey for the Toronto cocktail?

Yes, you can experiment with different types of whiskey. However, sticking to rye whiskey or bourbon will keep the cocktail closer to its traditional taste.

What time of the day is best to serve the Toronto cocktail?

The Toronto cocktail, being a rich and spirit-forward drink, is ideal for evening drinking or as a digestif after a meal.

Can I use other bitters instead of Angostura Bitters in the Toronto cocktail?

Yes, other types of bitters can be used, but it will alter the flavor profile of the cocktail. Angostura Bitters provide a complexity and specific flavor that complements the other ingredients well.

What type of glassware is traditionally used to serve the Toronto cocktail?

The Toronto cocktail is traditionally served in an Old Fashioned glass, also known as a rocks glass.

What other cocktails can I make with similar ingredients to the Toronto?

If you're interested in similar drinks, you could try cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, and the Boulevardier, which all use whiskey as a base, bitters and a form of sweetener.

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