Since Franco-British-Canadian-separatist culture isn’t the only thing Montreal skillfully blends, we thought we’d take a look at the finest cocktail joints the city has to offer, then ruthlessly whittle that number down to only the best seven...
Dominion Square Tavern
It would only be right for you to order an Old Fashioned in this swanky old-fashioned mostly-hidden Montreal gem of a bar. If you’re inclined to wearing bow ties whilst supping your cocktail libations, this place abides.
You’ll feel like you’ve already had a few too many cocktails as soon as you step into this trippy bar equipped with lady leg stools, gum ball machines, and a smoke machine, but you shouldn’t let that stop you from reaching new drunken heights on candy mountain with a Bazooka Joe vodka cocktail and several chocotinis.
Big in Japan Bar
Hidden behind a big red door up the street from their restaurant bar, this winding labyrinth of a bar is big in Montreal too. Classic cocktails on offer include the Vesper, the Negroni, or the Side Car, but chances are that once you find the absinthe fountain, nothing else will matter.
There are cocktails, and then there are La Distillerie’s 4oz, 1L mason jar cocktails. Happy hour’s good for drink deals, but it also makes the place as ram-packed as their drinks, which include literally full litres of Hurricanes, rum-laden Mont Real's, and tequila/ginger Gringos.
Le Lab is famous for turning cocktail making into a damn magical science. You won’t find no mediocre bartenders here, instead your mixologist will be happy to make you a Japanese Gimlet (basil, sake, pear vodka) or a Jerky Lab Jack (BBQ bitters, whiskey, jerky) with one hand while they juggle with the other and balance on a unicycle. Most of that is true.
There's a pretty swank ambiance about this place, thanks to its low lighting and stark white walls, but it's all undercut neatly by the chairs which're carved out of wooden beer barrels. The cocktails range from solid classics (they make a particularly decent Dark & Stormy) to even solid-er originals like their Bloody Dirty Martini, whose olive-brined booze has some Mary mix thrown in.
Keeping things ultra-classy, 701 backs up its Versailles-like interior opulence thanks to a menu of no less than a dozen Martinis, pus originals like their Montreal Old Fashioned (it uses two whiskeys and Martini Rosso)... and you can drink them all over a duck leg brunch.
1. Dominion Square Tavern1243 rue Metcalfe, Montréal
2. Candi Bar1148 ave. du Mont-Royal Est, Montréal
3. La Distillerie300 rue Ontario Est, Montréal
4. Le Lab1351 rue Rachel Est, Montréal
5. Baldwin Barmacie115 rue Laurier Ouest, Montreal
6. Suite 701701 Côte de la Place d'Armes, Montréal
7. Big in Japan Bar4175 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montréal
The Dominion Square Tavern first opened its doors in 1927 as a hotel restaurant and is still one of the classiest establishments in town, known for their traditional absinthe presentations.
It's a color explosions from the second you walk in, with lady-leg stools, gum ball machines, and equally colorful 'tails such as the Bazooka Joe vodka cocktail.
If really strong booze served in really large mason jars is your thing, La Distillerie won't disappoint for a late afternoon cocktail. Goldfish crackers (also served in mason jars!) will help tide you over you while you wait.
Located in the Plateau neighborhood, Le Lab has an extensive cocktail menu that changes regularly and churns out inventive concoctions like the Deer Hunter (Jägermeister, violet liqueur, and lime). It might not even be a stretch to say that Le Lab might just make some of the best cocktails in the country, and if it doesn’t anymore, it certainly paved the way for bartenders to aspire to fancy techniques that hadn’t even crossed their booze-addled minds. The bar is dimly lit and has the feel of an ol’ timey speakeasy, and if you don't like anything on the menu, the experienced "Labtenders" will be happy to mix up any classic 'tail, or something from their list of originals.
This upscale drinkery serves some mean 'tails, such as their spicy rum and ginger beer cocktail or their classic Dark and Stormy.
This classy establishment is a great spot for some brunch and day drinking, primarily because of their bangin' Eggs Benedict and high-quality 'tails.
Located just up the street from their resto with the same name, Big in Japan Bar doles out classic 'tails, but you'll probably let curiosity get the best of you and try their absinthe fountain.