Whether you’re on a date, meeting friends or flying solo, you can easily find the perfect place to have drinks in Canada’s capital. And when local craft beer and refined wines aren’t cutting it, why not stir things up with a killer cocktail? From chic restaurants to trendy lounges and cozy pubs, check out our suggestions for great cocktail spots in Ottawa.
Riviera features only the highest quality ingredients in both its refined cuisine and its bar offerings – all served in a sleek, art deco atmosphere. The mixologists create their own infusions and have curated a serious selection of spirits. Where else can you try an Amaro tasting flight? Perfectly-crafted cocktails are presented in those tactile, crystal-cut glasses or sexy coupes. Order a classic like a gimlet or a Manhattan, or let yourself be swayed by more modern and inventive concoctions. To catch all the action, request a seat at the 70-foot brass bar which also overlooks the open kitchen. And keep an eye out for politicians and artists – the restaurant’s location on Sparks Street attracts VIPs from nearby Parliament Hill and the National Arts Centre.
Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market hotel
The swanky Andaz Ottawa hotel in the ByWard Market is one of the city’s hottest accommodations. It also boasts two beautiful spaces that offer superb meals, drinks and views. Feast + Revel restaurant and bar on the main level has a streamlined cocktail list with unique options like the Sugar Shack, which includes special tea-infused rye, black walnut bitters and maple syrup. And the ultimate top shelf experience awaits on the 16th floor, at the indoor/outdoor rooftop lounge: Copper Spirits and Sights. Enjoy some of the city’s best views while sipping on a beloved classic, or order a Copper Craft cocktail. The NCC [National Capital Caesar], rimmed with crushed ketchup chips (flavoured potato chips), is a popular option – especially during brunch.
Foodies flock to Fauna on Bank Street in downtown Ottawa for the modern yet cozy atmosphere and stunning flavours. The bar staff is renown for their creations, especially since winning the national Made with Love mixology competition in 2017. You can try a version of the award-worthy Blue Sea cocktail which includes Ungava gin, black pepper and grapefruit. Or perhaps you’d prefer the Leblon James made with Leblon Cachaça, Lillet Blanc and Tio Pepe. Caesar-lovers swear by Fauna’s spicy combination of vodka, kimchi, sriracha and olive brine (no tomato).
Zoe’s Lounge at the Fairmont Château Laurier
Join the ranks of visiting royals and VIPs by visiting Zoe’s Lounge at the historic Fairmont Château Laurier. The seasonal cocktail menu is updated regularly with signature options that are complex and unexpected. The Forest Forager is made with Enoki Mushroom Infused Rye and Maple Syrup, and the Aurora, includes Butterfly-Pea Flower Infused Beefeater Gin and Ontario Ice Wine Tea Blend. If you crave authentic favourites, try the Dark ‘N Stormy with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, or the champagne cocktail with sparkling wine or Moët & Chandon. On Mixology Mondays, the bar staff provides an in-depth look at their creative process while you sip on the results at the beautiful marble bar.
The design is decidedly Mid-century modern at Charlotte, a funky, retro-chic lounge located above the popular vegetarian restaurant, Pure Kitchen, on Elgin Street. Sit back in one of the living room-like spaces and let the friendly wait staff suggest the right libation to match your mood and taste. Classics are always de rigueur but so are the speciality cocktails, which change regularly. Try the Rideau Club, the Sex on the Dock or even a swanky spin on the Pina Colada. The mixologists create their own syrups and juices which they mix with only the best spirits. And every Thursday, they host a “cocktail lab” with feature cocktails and specials on Old Fashioneds and Negronis.
Hintonburg Public House
This welcoming watering hole in the trendy Hintonburg area just west of downtown Ottawa, is a community favourite. The simple wood bar and mismatched chairs at Hintonburg Public House invite you to make yourself at home. Order a tried and true concoction or one of the specials based on neighbourhood happenings and seasonal trends. In the summer, cool off with a Muskoka Cucumber Lemonade (made with Muskoka Cool as Cuke Pale Ale beer), and in the winter, warm up with a hot-buttered rum made with local North of 7 rum. The HPH also makes killer mocktails, including a virgin Caesar, that are bursting with flavour.
The King Eddy
Fun and playful is on the menu at The King Eddy – a restaurant/diner/bar combination located in the ByWard Market neighbourhood. Clever cocktails include The Margareddy margarita, Punk in Drublic Punch, and Death Before Decaf with espresso. But how often can you indulge in a spiked milkshake? Try The Dude (vodka, Kahlua and half & half cream) or the Dad’s Root Beer Float (Amaretto, Jameson, vanilla ice cream and root beer). The combination of creamy goodness and aromatic spirits is heavenly!
If you prefer the amber nectar over killer cocktails, check out Ottawa’s Hopping Craft Beer Scene for all you need to know about local brews.