Patio Hot Spot: Cilantro

It’s summertime and the patio livin’s easy. We’re in that magical time of year where we have to relish in every minute of patio time that we can possibly get. Notable will be spending the next several weeks giving you the insider scoop on hot patios and cool drinks around the city. 

This week, let’s talk about Cilantro on 17th Avenue. This eatery is a gem that has been a part of Calgary’s food scene for 25 years now. Cilantro is an establishment known and loved by the foodie community as well as the many talented locals who work in the food industry. Cilantro was known for breaking the mold and moving away from serving steak and potatoes in the 80s, something considered to be the norm for Calgary cuisine at the time.

Passionate about local ingredients and making everything from scratch, Cilantro is all charm from the Virginia creeper on the outside to the wood-burning pizza oven that sits cozily in the back of the dining area. The food menu has changed very little in the last two-plus decades, and instead the focus on staying current has been partly possible through keeping the drink features fresh and exciting.

Cilantro has just put out a new cocktail list and has named its regulars along with several distinguished characters in town as the inspiration for the fabulous beverages on the list. These distinguished characters include a short list of local cocktail enthusiasts who you might know from other eateries and bars like Milk Tiger and the Living Room. Even cooler is that the list features hashtags for each cocktail, which allows you to search out their stellar recipes online.

The intention of this the new list is to really get people excited about the cocktail culture that is starting to catch on in the city; it’s about serving high quality drinks without being pretentious. 

Each drink that leaves the bar top is a total labour of love that is meticulously crafted with the season’s finest ingredients. Take the smoked cherries used in the Amaretto Peach Sour, for instance. The cherries are smoked to perfection in Cilantro’s wood-burning oven before garnishing the peach sour. In fact, most of the syrups, sodas and purees on are made in-house. Even the mint comes from an employee’s gardens. 

The manager of Cilantro, Tony Migliarese, concocted his own signature drink that appears on the cocktail list, the Cherry Blanco, which is a splash of Cazadores anejo tequila mixed with smoked cherry syrup, a little citrus and Smashbomb IPA to finish it off. This particular drink took about 16 evolutions to get just right, but was well worth all the trial and error. The finished result is a pleasant summer sipper that offers a little bit of tartness that is rounded out by the floral notes of the IPA. 

All the drinks on the menu are made to be refreshing and light with just the right amount of citrus; they are all perfect pairings for the stunning patio area. Next time you fancy a walk down 17th, make sure you hit Cilantro’s patio for a Cherry Blanco (#cherryblanco) or one of the other fabulous cocktails offered.