With the first half of our fashionable summer filled with patio dining and light beer, we had a little love affair with the cocktail this past weekend. Another perk of the job, I was invited to the fifth annual Drinks Show, held at the Queen Elizabeth Building at Exhibition Place. At this year’s show there were over 100 gourmet cocktails to choose from. Upon meeting the Martini Club’s Michelle Hunt, co-founder of the Drinks Show, she whisked me to the whiskey booth where we tried the Mint Divine, which had Crown Royal Special Reserve shaken with fresh mint and lemonade and sprinkled with wild blueberries. Move over Corona, there’s a new bevvie in my town.

“Toronto’s the only city I know where there’s a patio season,” Hunt laughs, when I ask her why people seem to drink more in the summer. “It’s also a time to be more social.” And she couldn’t be more correct. Fashionable Torontonians were feeling very social, as over 6,000 of them made their way to the retro-air travel themed soiree (think Maroon 5’s “Makes Me Wonder” video) to dance, drink and chill out with the 74 über-hot mixologists, all specially trained by the Martini Club. “We start getting calls in January, asking when this year’s show is going to be,” says Hunt, who has plans to take the show to Vancouver in 2009 and possibly Calgary and out east in the near future. At the moment, Hunt is enjoying making cocktails with gin and tequila, but the show was also home to some more unusual mixes, including beverages made with saffron or frozen Baileys and ice cream. Click here for five cocktail recipes from the weekend.

“The cocktail culture is changing, worldwide,” says Hunt. “More so than the beer and wine industries, I’m sure.”

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