We asked Jeff Savage, Bar Manager at Proof Cocktail Bar in Calgary, to share the history of six of Canada’s most popular cocktails. 

Vancouver Cocktail

Many hotels created signature cocktails to get patrons into lobby bars. That was the case with the Vancouver Cocktail, said to have been invented in the 1950s at the city’s Sylvia Hotel. Its flavour is similar to the Toronto, but it’s not quite as bitter. The drink is made with gin, sweet vermouth, orange bitters and Bénédictine (a spiced, French liqueur).

Sip it at: Sylvia Hotel in Vancouver.


1.5 oz gin
0.75 oz Punt e Mes vermouth
0.25 oz Bénédictine
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir with ice, strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a trimmed orange zest.


The original version of this cocktail was invented by the voyageurs (French-Canadian explorers), but their version called for whisky mixed with caribou blood, served hot. The cocktail is now made with red wine or port, Brandy and maple syrup, but is still served hot. It’s made in large batches and often served at festivals or in people’s homes.

Sip it at: Carnaval du Quebec, Quebec City, and Festival du Voyageur, Winnipeg.


4 cups red wine or port
1.5 cups brandy
3 tbsp maple syrup
8 dashes Angostura
2 cinnamon sticks
5 whole cloves
1 large orange peel

Combine all ingredients in a pot over medium heat (do not boil). Heat until syrup is completely incorporated and the drink is warmed to your liking. Keep warm on stove. Serve in mug of your choosing and garnish with an orange wheel.

Toronto Cocktail

Though theres controversy surrounding where this cocktail was invented, its earliest mention is in Cocktails: How to Mix Them, a book by Robert Vermeire, which states the Toronto cocktail was much enjoyed by Canadians. Theres no debate Toronto adopted this drink made with Fernet (a bitter liqueur), rye, simple syrup, Angostura bitters and orange peel garnish.

Sip it at: Civil Liberties speakeasy.


2 oz Canadian whiskey (Jeff uses Lot 40)
0.25 oz simple syrup
4 dashes Angostura

Stir ingredients with ice, and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Pour 0.25 oz Fernet-Branca over a spoon on top of the cocktail to layer the drink. Garnish with a trimmed orange zest.

Hotel Georgia

Launched in 1927, The Hotel Georgia reopened in 2011 as the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, housing Hawksworth Restaurant. Former bar manager Brad Stanton found its namesake cocktail recipe and modified it. The current recipe includes gin, lemon, orgeat (an almond-based sweetener), egg white and orange blossom water, with nutmeg dust as a garnish.

Sip it at: Hawksworth Restaurant, Vancouver.


1.75 oz gin
0.75 oz lemon juice
0.5 oz orgeat syrup
6-8 drops orange blossom water
1 egg white

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain back into shaker, and shake again without ice (dry shake). Double-strain with a fine mesh strainer into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.


Arguably the best-known Canadian cocktail, the Caesar has been around since 1969. It was created by Walter Chell, an employee at the Calgary Inn (which is now the Westin Calgary) as the signature drink for the hotel’s Italian restaurant. The classic version incorporates vodka, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, clam and tomato juice and a spiced rim.

Sip it at: Anywhere—you’ll find a version at most Canadian bars and restaurants.


1.5 oz vodka
6 oz Clamato juice
3 dashes hot sauce
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Rim a collins glass with celery salt and add the vodka and Clamato juice to the glass. Season with hot sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Stir with ice and garnish as desired.

Park Pass 

Jeff Savage invented this cocktail at Proof in Calgary for Canada’s 150th birthday. It incorporates ingredients including Banff’s Park Glacier Rye, Prairie-grown rosehips (which add ruddiness), Bittered Sling Bitters produced in Vancouver, lemon juice and Cocchi Rosa, an aromatized wine. This adds up to a fresh, floral cocktail, reminiscent of springtime in the mountains.

Sip it at: Proof in Calgary.


1 oz Park Glacier Rye
1 oz Cocchi Rosa
0.75 oz lemon juice
1 barspoon rosehip preserve
2 dashes Bittered Sling Moondog Bitters

Shake all ingredients together with ice and double-strain into a chilled coupe glass.


This story appears in the July 2017 edition of WestJet Magazine