We are so fortunate! After a 3 year hiatus, we got to travel to Montreal twice in the last few months. Montreal in the summer is gorgeous. There are hundreds of terraces to sit on and watch the city go by. The drinks being offered on those patios and then in the cocktail bars later at night are always improving. Montreal has fully embraced attitudes, techniques and ingredients that have been making their way through the rest of the cocktail world. It has always been a great place to go drink, but now, it is a great place to go get great drinks. Here are just a few of the spots that we got to pop into this summer.
Le Lab (279 St Catherine St E)
Every city has that bar that was ahead of the curve. The bar that started making house creations, using fresh juice and local inspiration before everyone else. In Montreal, Le Lab is that place. The original location had to shut down not long ago but they have a newer and much bigger spot now. Plus they have one of the terraces that I mentioned before. The bartenders at Le Lab are not only making house creations and classics well, but they flair in the most tasteful way. If you really like what you’re drinking, Bar Le Lab also manufactures their own line of cocktail ingredients as well.
Coldroom/El Pequeño (401a Rue Saint Vincent)
Two bars, one stop! You can check these out in whichever order you see fit. The Coldroom is a basement bar where you feel like you are in an 1800s tavern but drinking well put together cocktails. The menu has a theme and the more you sit here, the more you realize the amount of thought and effort that went into every aspect of this bar. Upstairs is El Pequeño. El Pequeño is a Cuban-inspired bar with a very specific cocktail list, Cubano sandwiches and a capacity of about 9. Great spot for a Daiquiri on your way out of Old Montreal. We have a whole lot of bartenders listed on Bartender Atlas that work at both of these including Aidan Lavoie-Whittall, Bastien Rémillieux, Daniel Boulianne, Kevin Demers, Nicolae Arman, Pierre-Hugues Marois and Sabrina Mailhot.
Knox Taverne (1871 Centre St)
Hop in a cab and head to Knox Taverne. By now you should be hungry (how many Cubanos did you eat?). Knox Taverne offers a really well put together wine list and a menu of great small plates to keep you rolling (tacos? Johnny Cakes? I’ll try it). Ask Jay Lawson what he would drink if if he wasn’t at work.
Atwater Cocktail Club (512 Atwater Ave)
First thing you have to know is that this bar is known as ACC to locals. The reason you need to know that is because this bar has a heavy service industry presence and if you talk about Atwater, it sounds like you are talking about the open air market a block away from this bar. If you like your cocktails with all the modern and/or antique techniques and tools, get a spot in front of Kate or Luigi. Smoking guns, fancy glassware and all manner of vintage paraphernalia will give you so much stuff to look at that you might end up overstimulated. Probably best to dull your senses with a cocktail.
The Cloakroom (2175 Rue de la Montagne #100)
When you arrive, you might think you have accidentally wandered into the lobby of a bank but don’t worry though, the door will open soon enough. You will be guided down a dark and mirrored hallway to a dark and mirrored room where there is no menu and a smiling face behind the bar. Just explain what kind of mood you are in and the bartender will take great care of you. Owner, Andrew Whibley has built such an intense prep area that they can get you pretty much anything you might ever want.
Bar George (1440 Drummond St)
I know that Canada isn’t THAT old of a country. So when you find out that bars exist in haunted hotels, you go to them. Then you find out that the people behind the haunted hotel bar know how to make a drink and the whole thing comes together. You can order classics at Bar George but we highly recommend you leave yourself in Elise Sergerie‘s capable hands. She loves shrubs, so let her show you how versatile vinegars can be. And whatever you do, don’t go anywhere in the bar alone. *cue spooky Scooby-Doo music*
Note: As with all Bar Hops, we are not encouraging getting inebriated. This is a list of great cocktail bars that we suggest visiting while in Montreal. We want you to have fun and play safe. Check out How to Do a Good Bar Hop for some hot tips.