Canada Bars & Nightlife
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.
Griendel Brasserie Artisanale
195 Rue Saint-Vallier O, Saint-Sauveur
A vast, industrial-looking space on Saint-Vallier Street, this beer-hall-style restaurant is the place to come for, well, beer. And the menu is full of great options, especially for local brands like Jakob and Prospero that can be difficult to find outside of Quebec. If you’re hungry, there are burgers and fish and chips that pair well with what’s on tap.
Le Moine Échanson
585 Rue Saint-Jean, Saint-Jean-Baptiste
An expertly curated natural wine list, hearty comfort food, and vintage wooden tables and chairs make this cozy wine bar on Rue Saint-Jean an ideal year-round option. Don’t be shy in engaging the servers, as this is the most fun part of a night here. You tell them (sometimes in very broad terms) what it is you’d like in a wine, and they’ll generously bring out a few bottles from which to taste. There’s food, too—and the oysters, charcuterie, terrines, and ratatouille are all excellent.
Petits Creux & Grands Crus
1125 Avenue Cartier, Montcalm
It’s not every day you find a Corsican bar and restaurant, let alone a great one. Run by a husband-and-wife team originally from the French island, Petits Creux & Grands Crus offers a big selection of imported Corsican wines and small dishes—they’re similar to those found in Italy and include fish croquettes and lobster risotto. A huge blackboard with the day’s special dominates the elegantly simple dining room.
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).
1276 Dundas St., Toronto
It's hidden behind a modest, nondescript storefront, and walking into Mahjong is like entering a portal to another world. The walls are adorned with a vivid jungle scene by local artist Gabriella Lo, the floors evoke a glamorous retro feel with a black-and-white checkerboard pattern, and apothecary-style glass cabinets hold bottles of booze and wine. Drinks may have Canadian-centric names (like the Lake Joe Spritz, which, as the menu proclaims, is meant to evoke “that Muskoka lifestyle minus mosquitos and four-hour drive”), but with a Japanese influence, using ingredients like yuzu, sake, plum wine, and Nashi pear.
1161 Dundas St., Toronto
With potted greenery; light wood accents; a high, wood-beamed ceiling; and skylights that flood the room with natural light, Paris Paris can feel more Southern California than, say, the capital of France. But this wine bar and all-day canteen in Trinity-Bellwoods stays true to its name when it comes to the menu, featuring Cabernet Francs from the Loire, Chardonnays from Burgundy, and grenache rosé from Provence. Foodwise, the whole roasted oyster mushroom doused in chicken jus is a winner.
1282 Dundas St. W., West Dundas
A new addition to the Dundas West neighborhood, the Founder is one of those dark, sleek, slightly industrial-looking places that seem to come straight from of a futuristic film set. Which isn’t to say it takes itself too seriously. Just take a look at the menu with its cyber- and social-media-inspired drink names, like Click Bait and OMG – Take Me Back. There are over 150 cocktails served here, so it’s virtually guaranteed you can get whatever you want in the beverage department. Then give the food a try: Small plates—mackerel and eggplant skewers, quinoa falafel, anchovy crostini—are the specialty.
The Rooftop Bar at The Broadview Hotel
106 Broadview Ave., Riverside
This indoor-outdoor bar perched on top of the new downtown Broadview Hotel is one of the better places to take in what may be the best skyline in Canada. There’s an open-air terrace with plenty of seating, so it’s a no-brainer for afternoon cocktails, but even indoors you’ll get a sense of being high above it all, thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows and a huge, pyramid-shaped skylight. Our favorite cocktail is an ode to Beyoncé: Becky with the Good Hair, a healthyish mix of vodka; carrot, orange, and lemon juices; coconut water; and rosemary.
Mister C Bar Room
80 Blue Jays Way, Entertainment District
Although it’s technically a hotel bar (located on the ground floor of the Bisha, downtown), the feeling here is that of a private members’ club, where guests cozy up in velvet club chairs next to a roaring fire. That’s the feeling, though, not the mandate—Mister C is open to the public. The drinks are a fine complement to the intimate atmosphere. Expect a list of expensive-but-worth-it cocktails, like a premium margarita made with Don Julio 1942 tequila and the Penicillin, with Glenmorangie Original single-malt whisky, honey, lemon, and ginger.
You may also like