The Gladstone Hotel sure knows how to bring the politics to the party. Or at least to the Melody Bar.
The Queen West hot spot is home to eight new election drinks based on Canadian and American candidates. Rather than ordering up a cosmo or a rum-and-coke, try a Sour McCain or Dion-tini.
As the first themed drink month in a new series, it doesn't stop at names. The bar hopes to match the booze to the characters of each politico.
"A John McCain Spritzer? It wouldn't fit so good," said Elliott Mealia, the Gladstone's floor manager for food and beverage.
It's all part of Mr. Mealia's campaign to galvanize Toronto locals. The drinks list hit the mirrored glass wall beside the bar on Sept. 1 and Mr. Mealia, 32, is hosting election debate nights at the Gladstone's Art Bar on Oct. 2 and Nov. 4.
The man who conjured up the cheeky list says he made the drinks list first. "A lot of it was just being creative with names, what I thought would fit their personality." So, for instance, the Jack Layton Spritzer is a froth of Chambord Royale, sauvignon blanc and soda water. "A sweet drink for a sweet guy," Mr. Mealia said.
The Hillary Clinton Pant Suit, on the other hand, is a sharp mix of vermouth and apple juice.
The Obama Mama, of course, is the hottest item - it's a Bahama Mama (a rum-based concoction, for those out of the loop) with amaretto replacing the coffee liqueur. Bartender Albert Gaudaur lost count of how many he sold last weekend. "They were going crazy. I just couldn't keep up," he recalled.
The See You Later Bush is at the opposite end of the popularity scale; it gets laughs but rarely sells. Mr. Mealia threw coffee into an Amarula Cream and Bols Vanilla mix, "to wake everyone up," he said, and salute President George W. Bush out of office.
A few cocktails are just regular drinks in disguise: The Sour McCain is your traditional whisky sour with a sugar rim ("because he needs more sugar in his life," Mr. Mealia said). The Palin Alien, a green cocktail with 7UP, blue curaçao, vodka and orange juice, makes its debut on Monday.
Only one drink atches party colours: the red Dion-tini, with vodka, crème de cacao, Chambord Royale and cranberry juice. But some patrons don't choose their drink according to their political stripe. Cathy Boote, a researcher hanging out with friends and sipping a Dion-tini, said, "As long as we're not held to vote for them. I just wanted a martini."
The blue party is a different story: For some reason, Stephen Harper's Gin and Sin is pink. Mr. Mealia shrugged when asked about the grenadine, orange juice, Beefeater gin and lemon-juice drink. He just wanted something sour, like the McCain.
"Maybe he needs less lemons in his life," he said.
Erika Hennebury, a 34-year-old theatre producer, glanced at the Harper Gin and Sin - but didn't order it. "I'm rejecting the Harper drink, which is too bad, because I really like gin," she said.
With Senator John McCain's campaign up in the air this week (still suspended?) what will happen to the eponymously dubbed whisky sour?
Whatever, Mr. Mealia said. "He's still a figure in U.S. politics and we will definitely keep him up," he said.