Canada Bars & Nightlife
Bars & Nightlife city
33 Acres Brewing
15 W. 8th Ave., Mount Pleasant
33 Acres has elevated the traditionally drab taproom, infusing the space with a Scandinavian aesthetic: floor-to-ceiling windows flood the room with light, all the surfaces—walls, floors, even the counters—are stark-white, softened-up with a few hints of natural wood and greenery. Aside from the dozens of beers on tap, a full menu is available (including brunch), spotlighting the hearty foods that go so well with beer—beef stew, salty perogies, and sticky ribs.
6731 Av. Esplanade, Mile-Ex
In the rapidly changing part of town known as Mile-Ex—once full of disused warehouses—a plethora of bars, breweries, and galleries are taking root. In the summer, Alexandraplatz, named in homage to the popular square in too-cool Berlin, takes over a stretch of empty space and turns it into a block party with food trucks, communal tables, and a packed bar serving cocktails, beer, and wine. The booze is good, but the atmosphere is electric. Bring cash.
157 Alexander St., Downtown Eastside
Self-described as a "modern tavern", bar owners Raya Audet and Nigel Springthorpe believe beer is just as versatile as wine and deserves the same, reverential treatment. The Alibi Room’s taps rotate on a regular basis, and include their own exclusively made brews, all served out of their heritage building space. The bar itself is huge with communal tables and minimal fuss, perfect for striking up a conversation with the beer-enthusiastic crowd that packs out the place night after night. Cocktails, wine, and small bar snacks are also available for the pint averse.
Atwater Cocktail Club
512 Av. Atwater, Southwest
Packed to the rafters night after night, Atwater Cocktail Club is relatively new to Montreal’s thriving bar scene, yet locals are already sold on the craft cocktails. Expect drinks infused with Mexican heat and tropical freshness—common flavors include jalapeño, agave, hibiscus, and lavender. Modeled with a speakeasy in mind, the interior is dark and moody. Behind the long emerald marble bar are shelves heaving with every spirit imaginable; the latter half of the room is cozy yet sultry with pink leather booths, glossy dark wood walls, and small gold tables. For those who like a bite with their drink, an added bonus—and serious incentive—is the option to order French brasserie plates from Foiegwa next door (conveniently, the establishments share the same owners).
Big in Japan
4175 Boul St-Laurent, Le Plateau Mont-Royal
It’s only fifty seats, and there’s no sign out front, but that’s kind of the point. Despite the name, Big in Japan isn’t meant for a big crowd. Behind an unmarked door at the corner of Boul Saint-Laurent and Rue Rachel, though, it is one of the best spots for late-night cocktails in Montreal. If you’re feeling adventurous, the specialties are amazing prune wine, sake, and Japanese whisky.
612 College St., Little Italy
Known for having one of the best beer lists in Toronto, Birreria Volo is definitely geared toward craft-brew lovers with a rotating lineup that usually includes some great ciders, too. Tucked into a narrow, dimly lit brick-lined space, it definitely feels more like a wine bar than anything resembling a brewery, which just adds to its charm. Look for a significant selection of classic cheese and meat boards.
Brothers Food & Wine
1240 Bay St., Yorkville
Tucked under Yorkville’s Bay Street subway station in a narrow, unassuming storefront, Brothers Wine Bar has quickly become known for elevated dinner fare and a really great wine selection. Inside, you’ll find a few tables (which, despite the small space, are quite comfortable) and a counter that runs through the length of the restaurant. It's cozy and fairly low-key despite the gourmet nature of the food. Expect an interesting selection of natural wines, and if you’re with a group, plan to share a bunch of things.
20 Av. Duluth E., Plateau-Mont-Royal
Chez Suzanne owns the fairly novel concept of being a dumpling speakeasy, yet conversely, the space has no Chinese design elements and has abandoned the traditionally dark speakeasy-style décor for something lighter and greener. Serving the aforementioned dumplings, twelve lines of craft beer, and an excellent selection of cocktails, Chez Suzanne is a fresh-feeling spot for comfort food and some of the latest beers produced by Montreal’s thriving microbrewery community.
878 Bloor St. W., Bloorcourt
Comfortable and unpretentious, Civil Liberties is a great place for cocktails that insists it’s not a cocktail bar: There isn’t a cocktail menu, so you have to rely on your bartender to listen to what you like and create something you’ll enjoy on the spot. There are some snacking options, but if you’re hungry, opt for what they call a Toasty, which is actually just a really good grilled cheese.
60 Kensington Ave., Toronto
The name is local slang for the alcohol concealed in teapots served in Chinese restaurants after last call at the bars. But here at Cold Tea in Kensington Market, everything is all out in the open—and it’s packed to the rafters. Some call it hipster utopia, where young Toronto creatives gather for locally pressed cider and cans of Ace Hill Pilsner. The tiny kitchen churns out endless supplies of dumplings and also plays host to a rotating cast of restaurant pop-ups (check Cold Tea’s Instagram for the latest collaborations).
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