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Six Spots to Sip Winnipeg’s Best Craft Cocktails

Have we reached peak cocktail? The waves of craft drink constructors shaking, stirring, infusing and zesting elaborate concoctions at the bar seems to suggest that yes, we have. And you know what? We’re on board. Winnipeg has no shortage of restaurants, cafes and cocktail bars that are treating boozy drinks with the reverence of fine food: balancing flavours, using seasonal ingredients and creating stunning presentations. These six spots will transport you to cocktail nirvana.

The Roost

There’s something endearingly DIY about Corydon Avenue’s quaint, whimsical The Roost: it’s the kind of spot where you just might find your drink dusted with edible glitter. In an intimate, well-styled second floor space, sample from the seasonally revolving menu of share plates and elaborate drinks. Cocktails are always playful, with clever ingredient combinations; think mezcal and dark chocolate bitters, or aquavit infused with lime leaf.

Patent 5 Distillery

A turn-of-the-century warehouse that once sheltered horses and carriages is now an elegant spot to sip. Small batch distilled spirits are made on site at Patent 5 Distillery, which boasts a stylish tasting room that turns a gin tasting flight into a glamourous Prohibition-era flapper fantasy. These spirits form the basis for an excellent line up of cocktails, spiked with local ingredients like Manitoba-made bitters. Also find snacks and mocktails for the DD.

Close Company

Snag one of the 10 seats inside Crescentwood’s Close Company, and you’re in cocktail heaven. Chef Dustin Pajak has made waves with the big flavours that emerge from the micro kitchen, and the cocktail list is no different. Classics are served up with an ultra-modern edge, like an Old Fashioned adjusted with flavours of cardamom and plum; new entries show cheffy thinking, like pairing tequila with espresso, ancho chile and mint.

Forth Bar

A sprawling modernist cafe inside a brick Exchange District heritage building, Forth cafe has proved itself to be one of the city’s aesthetic gems (not to mention an excellent spot to grab a cappuccino). Descend to the basement and Forth Bar continues this sparse, careful style. The spot is equally beloved by cocktail connosieurs and eager instagrammers. Just try ordering a drink topped with a thick, perfectly curled Platonic ideal of an orange twist and not documenting that for posterity.

deer + almond

Chef Mandel Hitzer’s brainchild deer + almond has been garnering national and international acclaim since it staked out its spot in the Exchange District in 2012. But locals know that this is the spot not just for brilliantly crafted sharing plates, but artful cocktails. The bar’s list mixes impeccably executed classics with creations that reflect the same considerations of flavour pairings and pan-Asian influence that imbue Hitzer’s menu. Where else would you find a mix of Japanese whisky and Italian amaro?

Amsterdam Tea Room

Tea is the star at this modern-yet-cozy Amsterdam Tea Room, the Exchange District cafe devoted to the world’s finest steep-ables. What does that mean for happy hour? Palate-expanding cocktails built on teas, of course. Campfire notes from wood-smoked Lapsang Souchong, grassy matcha and bracing black tea are such good foils for spirits, bitters and syrups, this spot will quickly convince you that your tea cupboard and bar cart are a match made in heaven. A hot London Fog tweaked with Earl Grey gin is a perfect cheeky twist on an after dinner cuppa.