One of the best memories I have of growing up in Ontario is time spent up at my family’s cottage in the Haliburton Highlands. Located somewhat Northeast of cities such as Barrie and Orillia, the Highlands are located on the ever-impressive Canadian Shield.

As I got older, my attention shifted from catching frogs to entertaining, relaxing on the dock and of course – Enjoying a beverage or two. Most people traditionally think of hot summer days to be a “beer day” but I have scoured the whisky-influenced nooks and crannies of the internet to find some great summer whisky cocktails to enjoy wherever you celebrate a threat, albeit short-feeling season in Ontario.

“Cottage Coffee”

Now for me, we always had “cottage coffee” which essentially meant… Add coffee to as much Bailey’s as possible. Ah, those were simpler days! However, when my interest in whisky kicked in I moved on from Bailey’s to Forty Creek Cream whisky.

This first one is my own selection, but it has made mornings at the cottage always warm and inviting.


  • 1 cup of medium or dark roast coffee
  • 2 oz of Forty Creek Cream
  • 1 dash of cinnamon


  1. Pour a delicious cup of coffee
  2. Pour in the Forty Creek Cream, stirring until satisfied
  3. Lightly tap in cinnamon for a delicious spiciness

Churchill’s Breakfast Cocktail

Maybe you’re wanting to enjoy the flavour of coffee throughout the day, however, the idea of hot coffee and Ontario levels of humidity just don’t jive for you. In that case, maybe you’ll enjoy this cold-brewed coffee cocktail inspired by how Winston Churchill used to like to start his day.

(Had to do some general rounding, adjust to your taste!)


  • 2-3 oz of Michter’s Straight Rye
  • 1 oz cold-brewed coffee
  • 0.5-1oz maple syrup
  • A dash of Angostura bitters
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 2 cinnamon sticks


  1. Combine ingredients into a pint glass and fill with ice
  2. Char cinnamon stick; coat inside of the glass with smoke
  3. Shake, garnish, serve

The Japanese Highball

While I got into this world with peated scotch, I am no stranger to Japanese whisky. I adore Japanese whisky! It’s often more subtle than its Scottish or American brethren, but that is what makes it perfect for a refreshing cocktail that is delicious and refreshing at the same time.

If you found the idea of charring a cinnamon stick and filling the glass with smoke intimidating, this simple, two-ingredient recipe may be right up your alley!


  • 2 oz Japanese whisky (I’d recommend: Toki)
  • Soda water
  • Lemon


  1. Fill a highball glass with ice, pour in the whisky
  2. Top with soda water, being careful not to pour directly onto the ice
  3. Garnish with lemon expression

Bourbon Manhattan

One of my favourite cocktails, but hey, we already have a drink with rye – Let’s shake things up a bit with the Manhattan and make it with bourbon. This flavourful cocktail is the perfect selection for those mid-to-late afternoon cocktail hours with the neighbours, friends… or just because you want one, darn it!


  • 2 oz bourbon (I’d say Longbranch or Bulleit)
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth*
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Cherry**


  1. Combine vermouth, bourbon and bitters into a cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Stir well
  3. Drop a cherry in a chilled cocktail glass and pour over

* If you prefer a dry Manhattan, swap for dry vermouth
**If you find Manhattan’s sweet, try a black cherry rather than a traditional maraschino cherry


S’mores Hot Chocolate Cocktail

For those nights filled with laughter around a campfire or those cooler August evenings when the days are noticeably getting shorter, nothing says Slainte to summer-like s’mores, whisky… and a whack of chocolate – Enjoy the decadence!


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • A ½ cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 graham cracker crushed
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp simple syrup
  • ¼ cup chocolate syrup
  •  ¼ cup chocolate pudding mix
  •  2 oz whiskey*
  • Marshmallows or marshmallow flush


  1. Add milk and heavy cream to a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Meanwhile, add chocolate chips to a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave on 30-second intervals until melted, stirring between each one. Dip the rim of your mugs in the chocolate and then dip them in the crushed graham cracker and set aside.
  3. Add remaining melted chocolate to milk and cream along with the honey, simple syrup, and chocolate syrup and whisk together. Whisk in the pudding mix little by little until fully combined. Bring mixture to a low simmer and remove from heat.
  4. Whisk in the whiskey and pour into prepared mugs. top with marshmallows or marshmallow fluff and use a kitchen torch to toast the tops. The toasting is optional.

* While they showed Maker’s Mark as a great option. If you want an extra punch and smoke to the hot chocolate mix, try Laphroaig.

So, how do you toast your summer in Ontario? What traditions do you have? What recipes do you want to share? Let me know in the comments below.

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