This originally appeared on Toronto Life’s website on April 15, 2014.
We might not typically judge a candidate for public office based on his or her drink of choice, but considering how much we know about our current mayor’s drinking preferences—whether it be a few beers at a Leafs game, an early-morning bottle of brandy at his office, or just a few Iceberg vodkas and Tropicana grape juices with an old friend in the park—it seems only fair that we ask those who seek to unseat Rob Ford what beverages they turn to after a hard day of arguing about who did or didn’t actually save the city a billion dollars.
Sure, there are far more important issues, but there’s also something to be said for getting the candidates off their scripted talking points. There are few things more personal than how someone chooses to unwind.
And so, with that in mind, here’s what the top contenders for mayor like to drink, along with some wild speculation about what their choices say about how they might govern if they win.
Candidate: Karen Stintz
Beverage of choice: Hendricks gin martini with three olives
Analysis: Interestingly, despite her often indecisive approach to policy (see: changing her mind on light rail and the island airport expansion), this answer is unequivocal: Karen Stintz knows what she wants to drink, right down to the brand of gin and even the amount of olives. It’s a classy (and delicious) drink but, tellingly, it’s one that’s often associated with urban sophisticates. In some ways, then, the choice of a martini speaks to the identity crisis Stintz has faced as she has tried to bridge the divide between urban and suburban voters—a struggle best exemplified by her now infamous “I’m like you” tweet.
Candidate: David Soknacki
Beverage of choice: An occasional glass of Ontario red wine with dinner
Analysis: This is a responsible, well-considered and even socially conscious response. It speaks to moderation and even gives a subtle shout-out to the province’s local wineries. In short, it’s perfectly representative of David Soknacki’s campaign so far: he’s got all the right stuff on paper, but it’s been a bit of a bore. Whether by accident or by design, he’s been about as exciting as a glass of VQA merlot and a grilled chicken breast. Sure, Soknacki’s reasoned approach might seem the perfect antidote to four years of Rob Ford, but it would be nice to see a little more of his tequila side. (Stay off the crack, though, David.)
Candidate: Olivia Chow
Beverage of choice: Scotch or red wine, but given her frequent 16-hour days and early mornings, she’s more likely to enjoy soda water with white wine or just an herbal tea.
Analysis: The variety here suggests that Chow is willing to adapt to what the situation demands of her. It’s always good when a politician can recognize that there’s no simple solution to every problem—e.g. a glass of scotch might not be the best choice for brunch, subways might not be the answer to all our transit woes, and so on. On the other hand, the plethora of choice here might suggest indecisiveness. Chow’s detractors often claim she tries to “have it all,” and perhaps her propensity to switch up her beverage of choice is indicative of a little too much eagerness to please.
Candidate: John Tory
Beverage of choice: Red wine
Analysis: Red wine is (again) a no-nonsense choice. It’s got a hint of sophistication, but with a nice steak on the barbecue it’s a drink that might even appeal to Joe Sixpack. As an answer then, choosing red wine (without specifying a brand or even a varietal) is pretty vague. It feels like playing it safe. It’s a choice that’s consistent with Tory’s approach to this point in the campaign. (“I promise a new subway line!” Safe. “Someday I’ll say how I’ll pay for it!” Vague.) As a beverage choice, red wine pairs well with many foods and fits a number of different social settings. In short, it’s a very middle-of-the-road beverage, and one that speaks perfectly to Tory’s current “not left, not right, just don’t-call-me-a-liberal” schtick.