Montreal 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.
Tommy Café + Apéro
200 Rue Notre-Dame W., Old Montreal
Open all day, Tommy does a particularly good aperitivo hour. The small but very pretty space—with mirrored walls and beautiful nineteenth-century-looking stucco moldings combined with modern leather bench seating and wooden floors—is so inviting. While we recommend Tommy's for a drink, we have to mention the breakfast menu, which includes acai bowls, grilled cheese, avo toast, and especially good coffee. Stop in for a predinner glass of champagne and find yourself staying for a few glasses more. A really charming spot at any time of the day whether you’re flying solo, with a crowd, or with a significant other.
5322 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Mile End
A cozy, low-key spot for a drink, Sparrow has a pub-meets-café look with lots of wood and exposed brick. The décor is unfussy and distinctly casual, but the cocktails hold their own—all the classics make an appearance on the carefully curated menu: Go old-school and try a French 75 for bubbles, or a Negroni for a strong predinner kick.
2175 Rue de la Montagne, Downtown
A thoroughly unique concept, Maison Cloakroom has taken the idea of a secret speakeasy to the next level with its tailor/barber/bar space. After an appointment with the tailor or a treatment with the barber, the option for a stiff drink or craft cocktail is right on-site. However, weekends see guests bypassing the suits and shaves and heading straight for the Mad Men–style bar. All beverages are made to suit the tastes of the drinker and many of the tinctures and tonics are made right behind the bar. All of the above lends to an elevated drinking experience in one of the city’s most beautiful spaces, an ideal spot for an intimate one-on-one drink with a friend or lover.
Le Rouge Gorge
1234 Av. Mont-Royal E., Plateau-Mont-Royal
Le Rouge Gorge is a roomy space with beautiful decorative touches that feel decidedly Parisian. A mix of marble-topped bar and table seating, black tile, exposed brick, and plenty of natural light by day and reflected light by night (from the many windows) contributes to the lively, brasserie-like vibe. The wine list is extensive with bottles ranging from average-priced to the more special, celebratory bottles for a splurge. The by-the-glass selection changes daily and the cocktails—mostly based on classics—have all been upgraded with Rouge George’s signature out-of-the-box touch.
115 Av. Laurier W., Mile End
Montreal excels in the casual watering holes and restaurants department—this is the city of unfussy and dressed-down socializing, where the focus is on the produce, not the people. Henrietta is a pared-back bar with white tile walls and cozy round tables for close conversation; the wine list is extensive and leans heavily on European producers. The food menu features dishes perfectly suited to a few glasses of wine—manchego popcorn, grilled cheese, and oysters—the kind of food that goes down easy and shares well among friends.
Dominion Square Tavern
1243 Rue Metcalfe, Downtown
A throwback in the best way possible, Dominion Square Tavern turns out all the classic cocktails topped up with a range of homemade tonics. The tavern space is pure old-school nostalgia—dating back to 1927—with wood-beamed ceilings, tile floors, and plenty of decorative flourishes like leather stools, chandelier lighting, and mirrored walls. While the classic bar food is good, it’s the drinks that take center stage: mint julep, Tom Collins, or a royal gin fizz—mixed to perfection by bartenders who really know what they’re doing.
4328 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Plateau-Mont-Royal
Darling showcases many of the finer beers produced by Montreal’s many microbreweries. The food offering revolves around classic bar snacks like cheese boards, olives, and selections of Italian antipasti. The space itself is incredibly inviting and evocative of the decadence of the ’30s. In contrast to many of the pared-back industrial bars that dot the city, Darling is a feast for the eyes—multiple types of lighting, books scattered about, a mixture of low and high seating, and a polished stone floor, all warmed up with plenty of plants and natural light during the day. While roomy, the space fills up night after night.
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.
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).
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