Farmhouse Tavern’s Will Larkin isn’t much swayed by fads, and his new, unfashionably delicious drinks are all the better for it.
Cocktail: Screech and “Coke”
$8 at Farmhouse Tavern (1627 Dupont St., 416-561-9114)
We could dress it up a bit and call it a Cuba Libre but, at its heart, the Farmhouse Tavern’s new cocktail is just a rum and Coke.
Then again, the fancied-up version of the drink, by Farmhouse Tavern bartender and co-manager Will Larkin, features a rich and flavourful house-made cola syrup, making it among the best in the city. Instead of a sickly sweet, hangover-inducing mixture of cheap rum and barely carbonated fountain syrup, this drink has bitter notes and a healthy depth of flavour. The rum is a unique twist, too—Newfoundland-made Screech. Altogether, the drink is more like a carbonated amaro cocktail, or an alcoholic version of a Brio Chinotto. And it amply demonstrates Larkin’s disregard for the drink fads sweeping the Toronto bar scene—mainly the widespread fixation on straight-booze brown-liquor cocktails.
“I’m not judging those who do it, but I don’t see the point in sticking exclusively to one thing,” says Larkin, who’s equally fond of cola and citrus. “There’s a reason these products have been popular for ages.”
Case in point: vodka, probably the least chic spirit going right now (at least with the inebriati). Larkin’s caperberry martini, an updated dirty martini, revels in it. And as with the rum, the vodka is Canadian—the smooth, tasty TAG, which hails from Oakville’s Maverick Distillery.
His emphasis on house-made, local basics is a logical extension of Farmhouse Tavern’s ethos, where all the butchery, bacon-making, and ice cream–making is done on the premises. Larkin, who grew up on a hobby farm in Eastern Ontario, and whose mother taught cooking professionally, has found a perfect fit with his rustic background. (The proof is in the restaurant’s rustic décor, right down to a Massey-Ferguson tractor out front.)
No one is more surprised than Larkin, who never saw himself becoming a bartender. “But the more you’re exposed to it,” he says, “the more you love it. After a while, it’s hard to imagine yourself working in any other industry.”
Will Larkin’s Screech and “coke”
Screech rum + House-made cola syrup + Lime + Chocolate mole bitters