Food & Drink

5 à 7: Montreal’s top 11 happy hours

Published On 11/27/2013 Published On 11/27/2013

So, in Montreal, happy hour is a big deal. So big in fact, that it’s officially at least two hours (they have to have it in French and English, you see), and is known as 5 à 7. The bars & restos here really get into it, throwing out offers that’ll make all the fancy cocktails, five-star cuisine, and sexy social interactions both accessible and affordable to the common man for a couple of glorious turns of the clock each night. Here’s a breakdown of the best bets in town…

Helm

Best for craft beer specials: Helm
Mile End
There's no argument: a buttery, peppery, malty craft brew is well worth an extra loonie/toonie. But despite Montreal's long list of microbreweries, you'll have trouble finding a pint under $7, no matter the time of day. That is, unless you visit the generous microbrasseurs at Helm -- all brews go for $5.25, like the St. Viateur stout or the hoppy Van Horn, affordable even on a PBR-level budget. Le Réservoir comes in at a close second, a Plateau mainstay with artisanal pilsners and weizens at $5.50 a pint and $3.50 a glass.

Mechant Boeuf

Best cocktails (you couldn't afford otherwise): Mechant Boeuf
Old Port
One of the most bar-filling 5 à 7s in the neighborhood, this happy hour heats up as the Old Port offices empty out. Each libation will cost you a mere $7.50, which is quite a deal considering the heavy pours and top-shelf materials including Grey Goose, Sapphire, and Patron.

Cartel

Best for delish food specials: Cartel
Mile End
Serving fun, sharable plates inspired by the world’s most awesome street foods, Cartel features recipes from Mexico, Chile, India, and Thailand. And if you drop by between Mon & Weds, the menu offers the best prices in the city, hands down. Load up on $2 tacos and $5 margaritas (Tues), $1 oysters with $5 Champagne (Weds), or 2-for-1 tropical cocktails (Mon) from 5 straight through 'til 11p. 

Sam Dalcourt

Best to impress your OkCupid date: Le LAB
Plateau
Let's face facts, you're looking for potent drinks and low lighting. You know what this is. Le Lab’s schtick is equal parts kitsch and class, with mixologist in silk vests muddling with laboratory precision. Get a load of the vaguely racy-sounding coquette Coeur de Femme (elderflower, Saint Raphaël red, Ardbeg whisky), and watch the 'tenders’ signature flame-throwing and bottle twirling as they make it. Usually priced at $15 a pop, a highball of liquid courage will run you only $10 at happy hour.

En Cachette

Best to impress your Match.com date: En Cachette
Latin Quarter
You're probably going to marry this person, and eventually give them half your stuff, so why not start with some half-priced booze? Lauded for their spot-on Old Fashioned and crisp gin-cucumber, this speakeasy's heavy curtains and twinkling chandeliers make for an ideal tête-à-tête. With a happy hour that runs well past 7, you can sip two pints for $10 or $8 specialty cocktails until 10p any night of the week.

La Taverne Normand

Best for hockey night: La Taverne Normand
Plateau East
On any other night, it's an innocuous neighborhood dive. On hockey night, La Taverne is an ice-based sports fan's promised land -- they have beer specials, a big screen, and each table picks a jersey number; if your player scores, Normand himself brings you free shots and high fives.

Cock n' Bull

Best straight-up savings: Pub Cock n’ Bull
Downtown
This English pub has all the trimmings: wood paneling, Guinness posters, buzzing neon, and mozzarella sticks (as are traditional). But it's their happy hour that shuts down all the competition. You can't do better than $3 pints and $16 double pitchers. 

SUWU

Best place that has a pinball machine: SUWU
Plateau
Follow the horn rims and skinny jeans to this unmarked bar at the corner of Prince Arthur and St. Laurent. An interior dressed in antique sofas and, yes, pinball machines, they're permanently rocking old school hip-hop, and their happy hour has better prices than any bar in its class (we're looking at you, Sparrow). Try the suggestive cocktail Big Booty Ho (it has cachaça & apricot brandy) or any beer or wine, all half-priced from 5 à 7.

L'Escalier

Best for broke-ass college kids: L'Escalier
Latin Quarter
A maze of interconnected rooms, you'll find everyone from Guevara devotees to beat poets laughing and philosophizing on mismatched chairs and floor cushions, and you may well taste ramen in the air, but that's not what you're getting -- the kitchen serves delicious vegetarian nachos ($5.25), hummus ($2.50), and végé pâté sandwiches ($6.95) with super-cheap brews ($14 Boréale pitchers) at happy hour and beyond.

Le Pourvoyeur

Best all-round-er: Le Pourvoyeur
Jean Talon
Welcoming and unassuming, this pub gourmand has a lively, diverse crowd, with genuinely good bar food and solid happy hour deals -- you can grab a pint of St. Ambroise for $5.50 or shot of Jameson for $2.50, and admire the large range on tap that you now may well be willing to pay full price for.

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1. Taverne Normand 1550, ave. du Mont-Royal Est, Montréal, H2J 1Z2 (Plateau)

Most nights, this is your regular neighborhood dive. But on hockey night (i.e. nights the Canadiens are on), La Taverne turns into an electric sports bar with a big screen, drinks specials, and a rowdy crowd.

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2. HELM 273 rue Bernard O., Montréal, H2V 1T5

The people at HELM are solely focused on three things: beer, food, and ping pong. And that is a winning combination.

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3. Réservoir 9 rue Duluth Est, Montréal, H2W 1G7 (Plateau)

One of Montreal's finest brasseries, Reservoir has a full bar with a handful of specialty beers, in bottles and on tap, and they also serve some killer brunch items and snacks. This microbrewery also has a killer rooftop terrasse, which overlooks one of the most beautiful streets in the Plateau. The menu is entirely vegetarian, so there's bound to be something for everyone to choose from while sipping an ice-cold just-brewed beer.

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4. Méchant Boeuf Bar & Brasserie 124 rue Saint-Paul Ouest, Montreal, H2Y 1Z3

Located in Old Port, this bar and brasserie doles out a long list of fascinating, tasty, and creative cocktails. And if you find the price might be a bit steep, come in during happy hour to knock a few dollars off.

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5. Cartel 101 Ave Fairmount W, Montréal, H2T 2M4 (Mile End)

This bar/resto plates a variety of international dishes from such countries as Mexico, Chile, India, and Thailand. And if you want to get the most bang for you buck, stop in during happy hour for special deals on these foods and select drinks.

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6. Le Lab 1351 rue Rachel Est, Montréal, H2J 2K2

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.

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7. En Cachette Speakeasy 1765 rue Saint-Denis, Montréal, H2X 3K4

This speakeasy features a happy hour that runs well past 7p, and outside of that, you can snag a pair of pints or a handcrafted specialty 'tail for $10 until 10p ANY night of the week.

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8. Pub Cock n' Bull 1944 rue Saint-Catherine Ouest, Montréal, H2M 2T6

This is a British pub through and through, with wood paneling, Guinness posters, and $3 pints during happy hour!

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9. SuWu 3581 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montréal, H2X 2T6 (Plateau)

Inside SuWu, you'll find comfy antique sofas, pinball machines, and super-awesome drink prices that're all half-price from 5-7p. And if you're hankerin' for some eats, they have a menu loaded with tasty options like their amazing mac n' cheese grilled cheese.

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10. Sparrow / Le Moineau 5322 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montréal, H2T 1A5 (Mile End)

This resto & cocktail spot's always filled with Mile End neighborhood regulars who come back for The Sparrow's baller weekend brunch. On the must-eat list: banana and chocolate-filled donuts, smoked salmon & scrambled eggs, and a potato & cabbage dish called Bubble 'n Squeak.

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11. L'Escalier 552 rue Sainte-Catherine Est, Montreal, H2L 2E1

This colorful bar not only has a super-terrific happy hour, but their kitchen also doles out tasty numbers like vegetarian nachos, hummus, and sammies.

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12. Le Pourvoyeur 184 rue Jean-Talon Est, Montréal, H2R 1S7

This friendly neighborhood bar offers a grand selection of brews on tap, super-cheap happy hour specials, and always houses a lively crowd.

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