Savour the City: Here are five must-try cocktails for the fall season at Ottawa bars

Photo by Yvonne Langen
Editor's Note

Savour the City is an occasional column prepared by well-known local food and drink writer Yvonne Langen of Taste and Tipple celebrating all that is delicious in Ottawa.

As a cocktail connoisseur, I often get asked what to order at local bars and restaurants. Today, I’m pleased to act as your personal cocktail concierge and help take the guesswork out of what to order from fall drink menus. My liver has done some heavy lifting to curate this list of tasty tipples that will surprise and delight your palate this season.

Stolen Goods Cocktail Bar – “The Golden Ticket”

Stolen Goods launched its fall cocktail menu earlier this month and is serving up a selection of thoughtfully composed seasonal sippers to get you through ‘til the New Year. In addition to fan favourite fixtures like Petty Theft, a 72-hour process milk punch clarified through coconut and cow’s milk with vibrant Thai flavours like basil, cilantro, green hatch chili and sencha green tea, the fall menu features stunners like The Golden Ticket. Broker’s gin is infused with Earl grey tea, fortified plum wine, spiced apple honey, lemon, egg whites and a scene-stealing addition of turmeric yogurt. While you might be thinking, “Yogurt, in a cocktail?”, the answer to that question is a resounding, “Yes!” Yogurt adds a unique dynamism to cocktails by adding acidity and a mouth-coating, velvety texture. The final product is balanced, creamy and profoundly eye-catching with the generous heap of gold foil perched atop the egg white foam. Stolen Goods is an intimate Sparks Street haunt boasting only 20 seats, reservations strongly advised.

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Nan’s Parlour – “All That Jazz”

Seek out nostalgia amidst the kitsch at Nan’s Parlour. Tucked in beside the Heart and Crown on Clarence Street, Nan’s Parlour transports you to your grandmother’s sitting room. Outfitted with tufted velvet settees, needlepoint artwork and decorative dinnerware hanging on the walls, this gin joint is a real time capsule. Its cocktail list evolves with the seasons. From the current selection, I’m recommending the All That Jazz, a spirit-forward sipper perfect for a cool fall evening. A cognac base is complemented by the subtle stone fruit sweetness of cherry brandy, herbaceous Benedictine, bitters and finished with a touch of drama in the form of hickory smoke.

Riviera – “Sureshot”

The Sweater Weather menu is available now at Riviera, where mastermind Stephen Flood and his disciples behind the sprawling brass bar have curated a selection of autumnal offerings that will be on offer for another month or so. Having sampled the better part of this menu, I can confidently endorse the Sureshot. This cocktail is a riff on the Penicillin, a modern classic comprised of blended and single malt Scotch, lemon and a honey ginger syrup. The Riv version substitutes blended Scotch with a funky overproof Jamaican rum that brings levity to the recipe. A sprig of fresh rosemary served as a simple, aromatic garnish. Get it while the gettin’ is good.

Fauna – “The Godfather”

This Bank Street restaurant reliably turns out inspired cocktails. The latest addition to its list is The Godfather, a compelling combination of apple brandy, Amaro (an Italian herbal liqueur), Pedro Ximenez sherry, Benedictine and finished with smoked cinnamon. The ingredients list is not too dissimilar from the All That Jazz of Nan’s Parlour described above, but the finished product is vastly different. The Godfather is like an iron fist in a silk glove, the potency of the cocktail goes down easy with its artful composition and the smoked cinnamon brings a delectable baking spice element.

Q Bar in Queen St. Fare – “Savory’s Sidecar”

The classic Sidecar, a dry brandy sour, gets a savoury treatment at Q Bar, the popular after-work watering hole in the Sun Life Building at Queen and O’Connor streets. From the fall cocktail menu, this libation features truffle-infused brandy, orange liqueur, lemon, vanilla rye bitters and miso syrup. The bracing acidity of the standard Sidecar is expertly balanced by the earthy, musky notes of the truffle infusion and the miso syrup brings a wonderful umami dimension. The final flourish is a tidy square of nori, floated on the surface of the drink for a salty nose flavour. If truffle and miso are not your speed, reach for the Old Time Chai, a chai old-fashioned, instead.

Yvonne Langen is the food and drink content creator behind Taste & Tipple. She is also a regular fixture on TV and radio as a lifestyle expert. You may have previously read her work in Ottawa Magazine.  

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