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…
Best for craft beer specials: Helm
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.
Best cocktails (you couldn't afford otherwise): Mechant Boeuf
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.
Best for delish food specials: Cartel
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.
Best to impress your OkCupid date: Le LAB
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.
Best to impress your Match.com date: En Cachette
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.
Best for hockey night: La Taverne Normand
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.
Best straight-up savings: Pub Cock n’ Bull
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.
Best place that has a pinball machine: SUWU
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.
Best for broke-ass college kids: L'Escalier
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.
Best all-round-er: Le Pourvoyeur
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.
1. Taverne Normand1550, ave. du Mont-Royal Est, Montréal
2. HELM273 rue Bernard O., Montréal
3. Réservoir9 rue Duluth Est, Montréal
4. Méchant Boeuf Bar & Brasserie124 rue Saint-Paul Ouest, Montreal
5. Cartel101 Ave Fairmount W, Montréal
6. Le Lab1351 rue Rachel Est, Montréal
7. En Cachette Speakeasy1765 rue Saint-Denis, Montréal
8. Pub Cock n' Bull1944 rue Saint-Catherine Ouest, Montréal
9. SuWu3581 Boul Saint-Laurent, Montréal
10. Sparrow / Le Moineau5322 boul. Saint-Laurent, Montréal
11. L'Escalier552 rue Sainte-Catherine Est, Montreal
12. Le Pourvoyeur184 rue Jean-Talon Est, Montréal
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.
The people at HELM are solely focused on three things: beer, food, and ping pong. And that is a winning combination.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
This is a British pub through and through, with wood paneling, Guinness posters, and $3 pints during happy hour!
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.
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.
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.