Having tackled Canada’s Best New Restaurants for nearly two decades, we were up for another challenge. And we needed a drink. So Air Canada enRoute sent a discerning barfly (armed with expert recommendations and plenty of coconut water) on a month-long, coast-to-coast crawl to track down the nation’s best new bars that launched between April 2017 and May 2018. They had just one shot to impress our writer, whom we made sure they never saw coming. There were many stellar cocktails and tons of tasty snacks, but when the crawl ended and the hangover lifted, the choice for our Top 10 new bars in Canada was clear.
Meet Our Bar Experts
Shane Beehan is a Halifax-based bartender who represents Canada at many international competitions and events. He pours drinks at Lot Six restaurant.
Bartender Katherine Boushel of Montreal’s Atwater Cocktail Club won Canada’s Next Great Cocktail competition, held by Lot No. 40 and Air Canada.
A master at mixing barrel-aged cocktails, Christopher Cho is the owner of Traditional Bitters and co-owner of Saskatoon’s Little Grouse on the Prairie, Sticks and Stones and Ayden Kitchen and Bar, as well as Avenue Restaurant in Regina.
Maryline Demandre is the co-founder of the Invasion Cocktail events in Montreal and Quebec City, and Agendacocktail.com, a platform listing cocktail events across Canada.
As Air Canada’s Culinary Partner, David Hawksworth, chef/owner of Vancouver’s Hawksworth and Nightingale restaurants, has created signature dishes exclusively for Air Canada flights in Signature Class and Maple Leaf Lounges.
Drinks blogger Talia Kleinplatz reports on the Vancouver cocktail scene for Scout magazine.
Toronto-based beer expert Crystal Luxmore is an Advanced Cicerone and writes about the craft-beer scene for Toronto Life.
Winnipeg Free Press books editor Ben MacPhee-Sigurdson also writes about wine, beer and spirits.
Lauren Mote is the Diageo Reserve Global Cocktailian, the bar consultant for the Four Seasons Hotel Group in Whistler, and co-proprietor of Bittered Sling, a line of cocktail bitters.
An Edmonton journalist who writes on food, culture, science and business, Omar Mouallem has been published in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, Wired and NewYorker.com.
Travel and drinks writer Sarah Parniak is a former bartender based in Toronto.
Winnipeg-born, Scottish-raised distiller Caitlin Quinn holds a Master of Science degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, and now creates small-batch spirits for Eau Claire Distillery in Turner Valley, Alberta.
Wine, food and travel journalist Dick Snyder has covered Toronto’s dining and hospitality scene for Zoomer, Air Canada enRoute, The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants magazine.
Bartender, writer and consultant Shawn Soole is based in Victoria, B.C.
Vancouver’s Kaitlyn Stewart is the bar director at Royal Dinette. In 2017, she won the Diageo World Class competition held in Mexico City and earned the title of world’s best bartender.
Based in the Ottawa area, sommelier Debbie Trenholm contributes to Ottawa Life magazine and is the co-owner of Savvy Company, which puts on wine tastings and events.
Victoria Walsh and Scott McCallum
Victoria Walsh and Scott McCallum are the Toronto-based authors of A Field Guide to Canadian Cocktails. Walsh is a freelance writer, editor, recipe developer and stylist; McCallum is a bartender and cocktail recipe developer.
Edmonton’s Evan Watson is the co-owner and sommelier of Clementine, named one of Canada’s Best New Restaurants in 2017.
Co-owner of Calgary’s Vine Arts boutique liquor stores, Proof cocktail bar and Donna Mac restaurant, Jesse Willis is a self-professed wine nerd and cocktail lover.