Shaken, not Stirred – Montreal’s Best Cocktail Bars

On the hunt for new and creative drinks to spice up your night out? Check out this list and Glutton Guide Montreal for a comprehensive compilation of Montreal’s best cocktail bars!

Big in Japan Bar

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Not to be confused with Big in Japan the restaurant (just down the block), this easy-to-miss cocktail bar is the perfect first-date spot (and a late night haunt of many of chefs). Bottles of whisky hang from the ceiling, waiting for drinkers to return for their next session. If you’re there with a group, get the punch before settling in with a classic Manhattan or negroni. The small bar menu is mostly Asian-influenced options like tuna tataki and crispy pork rice, but if you’re really hungry, stumble down the road to the restaurant, which serves its full menu until 3am.

La Distillerie


Le Distillerie is the home of the city’s most famous CA$17 mason jar – and it is worth it. The menu is divided by adjectives – powerful, fresh, delicate, fruity, tart and tropical – and changes monthly. You can’t go wrong with a mojito, but you can go much more right with a monk-y town (white tequila, Chartreuse, passion fruit syrup, mint, lime, agave and vanilla bitters).

Le Lab

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The original flair bar in Montreal, its owners started it as a place where bartenders could learn to make beautiful creations. Now the monthly menu is a work of art. It starts with happy hour specials like the ‘bang-banger’ (Cazadores Blanco tequila, Meletti anisette and orange) available from 5-8pm (and 5-10pm Thurs), and moves on to sections called ‘gentleman’s choice’, tiki drinks and the most popular creations in the Lab’s history. Pace yourself, though – those CA$14 cocktails add up.

 Le Mal Nécessaire


The owner of Montreal’s only tiki bar has a flair and classic cocktails background, having worked at Dominion Square Tavern and Barocco. He makes ones of the best old fashioneds in the city (and trained half the city’s bartenders to do it too), but he’s also a rum punch pro. Order anything than comes in a pineapple or coconut, and some dumplings from the restaurant next door. Don’t miss Barrio Chino Sundays – industry days, where local bartenders come hang out– and the monthly Drunken Masters competition, a contest for the city’s top mixologists who concoct five pre-selected cocktails as cleanly and quickly as possible – think two bottles per hand and some serious mixer shaking.
 

Le Slang

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Expect creative molecular options involving centrifuged orange juice and sous vide infused syrups here. If the smoker is in action, try a ‘smoked bloody Caesar’ with caramelized bacon. If not, there’s always a maple syrup bourbon old fashioned. The multi-cultural menu includes mountainous baby back ribs glazed in sticky Vietnamese caramel with fish sauce. The AAA Angus beef burger is pure comfort.

N Sur Mackay

You’ll walk past this speakeasy-style cocktail bar at least twice before finding the entrance, but once you’re in, you’ll love the multi-page menu of seasonal, classic, unique and delicious drinkables. Start with the cocktail of the week at the bar or nestle up to a ‘campfire’ (spiced rum, Galiano vanilla liqueur, pumpkin purée, lemon and a toasted marshmallow) in a cozy nook in the back. Wednesday is the weekly quiz night and a great way to meet some locals.

For more delicious sips and bites, be sure to check out Glutton Guide Montreal!

 

Montreal’s Best Food Trucks

After a 66-year ban on street food was lifted in 2013, Montreal’s food truck industry took off. Many food trucks opened brick-and-mortar locations after the success of their trucks, while others were restaurants first and food trucks second.

Now street food vendors are required to work out of a certified sanitary production kitchen, emphasize local products and keep processed foods off the menu. They are even given points in the application process for green initiatives like compostable containers or solar-powered trucks.Street food is available year round, but most trucks stop their regular schedule between October and May. In high season, their hours are usually between 11am-2pm or 4-7pm. Check out Glutton Guide Montreal to hear about all the hot spots!

Landry et Filles

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The eponymous chef of this bright blue food truck is Marc-André Landry, who draws on his childhood growing up on the Acadian peninsula to create a magical menu featuring memorable takeaway eats. Lunches are relatively fresh and light, and he utilizes local, seasonal produce to create dishes like buckwheat crêpes with gravlax, cream cheese, fennel and caviar or seasonal popsicles. When the truck closes for winter, head to the Landry et Filles storefront for the filling down-east fare.

 

Pas d’Cochon Dans Mon Salon


This food truck is famous for its pulled pork sandwich, slowly smoked with hickory, then served spicy and not too sweet with fresh crunchy cabbage. Also coming out of the window are oysters, salads and dessert (don’t skip the rhubarb & cheese turnovers). The owners are four long-time friends who have cooked their way through many of Montreal’s fine dining restaurants. With the success of the truck, they’ve now opened a year-round restaurant, Les Fillettes, where you can pick up their book on low-and-slow barbecuing.

Pied de Cochon the Truck


The Pied de Cochon is definitely the fanciest food truck around in terms of ingredients, but like the restaurant of the same name (and the seasonal sugar/apple shack), the truck serves fine food in a low-key way. Here you will find their famous foie gras poutine – twice-fried French fries topped with cheese curds and a foie gras sauce – and oversized duck wings with a maple glaze. Look for the camo-green truck and know that the wait will be worth it.

Pizza Napolitana no. 900


Following hot on the heels of their successful brick & mortar restaurant of the same name, Pizza Napolitana no. 900’s truck also has a ceramic-tiled 900°F oven where pies cook every 90 seconds. Quality is key in both the San Marzano tomato sauce and Quebec-made mozzarella. Order a slice from the daily menu of pizzas (although you cannot go wrong with the basic: basil, oregano, arugula and garlic) and wash it down with an Italian soda.

Zoe’s

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One of the city’s food truck pioneers, Zoe Dalakas is a spunky redhead and the daughter of Greek immigrants, and that heritage is reflected in her Mediterranean-influenced sandwich truck. Start with a small spanakopita – phyllo pastry stuffed with cheese and spinach – and move on to a fried halloumi sandwich on fluffy bread with the namesake melted salty cheese, sweet figs, crunchy lettuce and fresh dill.

Still hungry? Check out Glutton Guide Montreal for a host of sit-down restaurants, bars, and more! 

 

The Best Montreal Food Festivals

There’s more to festivals in Montreal than the July’s famous Just for Laughs Comedy Festival. During all seasons, the local community celebrates its chefs and culinary traditions with the best Montreal food festivals. Check out the dates and book your trip accordingly! 

Feb – March

Montreal en Lumiere (2017: Feb 23-March 11)

While other North American cities often try to drag customers to restaurants in the down season with low-price menus of so-so quality food, Montreal goes all out with invited Michelin Star chefs, gastronomic tasting menus, happy hours with wine producers and free tastings of local cheeses, charcuterie and ice ciders. One the best of Montreal’s food festivals, it also includes a large art and music component, but the focus is squarely on the food. Each year features a cuisine and wine-producing region. Guest chefs partner with local restaurants for one-night-only and multi-night dinners. Dinners range from CA$60-300 with wine pairings, but many offer CAD$20-40 three-course lunches, which is a perfectly acceptable time to drink a glass of wine or three.  

Web: www.montrealenlumiere.com.

June

Montreal Beer Fest (2017: June 14-18)

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The Montreal Mondial de la Bière is a much more casual – though much more raucous – version of La Grande Dégustation. The award-winning microbrewery industry in Quebec is in full regalia at this annual June event. It features a wide range of local beers and some rare imports (think Lambics and Belgian abbey offerings) plus Quebec ciders and meads. Buy a package of CA$1 coupons and trade them for tastes and glasses of the whole line of Microbrasserie Charlevoix, Dieu du Ciel and Microbrasserie Le Castor. Grab some sausages and poutine on the outdoor terrasse and make a day of it.

Palais des Congrès. Subway: Orange line – Place d’Armes. Web: www.festivalmondialbiere.qc.ca.

July

Week-Ends du Monde (2017: July 9-10 & 16-17)

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This free festival happens over the course of two weekends of July at Parc Jean-Drapeau, the island built next door to Montreal for Expo ’67. Each day multiple countries set up restaurants and store kiosks (and stages and activity areas) throughout the park. Dance salsa before diving into Peruvian fried chicken, then head to the Turkish pavilion. A land of kofta beef skewers await, complete with a show of whirling dervishes (who hopefully eat after they stop spinning, not before). The event is extremely family-friendly (kids will enjoy the water park and jungle gyms), but the music, food and dancing goes well into the night.

Web: www.parcjeandrapeau.com/en/week-ends-du-monde-montreal.

Poutine Fest (2017 Date: TBD)


Montreal’s outdoor poutine fest brings together restaurants and food trucks serving the French fry, cheese curd and gravy dish. Also on offer are versions with ribs or lobster and gluten-free or vegetarian takes on the classic. Don’t miss trying the award-winning variations from the provincial competitions, including Le Smoking BBQ’s pulled pork poutine. You could even try the versions from Ottawa, though Quebec purists may snub their noses at their neighbors’ version.

Quai Jacques-Cartier. Web: www.poutinefest.lesmokingbbq.com/en.

September

Oysterfest (2017 Date: TBD)

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Daniel Notkin’s annual oyster extravaganza brings together a seemingly endless supply of sustainable bivalves with open-air BBQ, gourmet poutine, a Bloody Mary-making competition, an international oyster shucking competition and more in this two-day fest. More than 50 local restaurants set up stalls. Grab coupons for cocktails and snacks and slurp back as many as you can. Proceeds partially go towards the Open Shore Foundation, Notkin’s organization supporting sustainable seafood. 

Web: www.mtloysterfest.com.

November

La Grande Dégustation (2017 Date: TBD)

Montreal’s biggest wine & spirits event is a sprawling display of samples from the world’s biggest producers. Each year features a couple of types of wines and a type of alcohol (like Port or whiskies). One year was all Champagnes – that made for one heck of a headache… Each sample costs a certain number of tickets. Big Bordeaux will cost more CA$1 coupons than Kim Crawford. Strike up a conversation with your producer of choice. They may give you a couple free pours from their line. Pace yourself! Even if you use the spitoons, you’ll have a hard time leaving sober.

Web: www.lagrandedegustation.com.

To find out more about Montreal food festivals, download your copy of Glutton Guide Montreal: The Hungry Traveler’s Guidebook.

Introducing Glutton Guide Montreal – Poutine, Bagels, Smoked Meat & More!

Searching for the best poutine, bagels and smoked meat in Montreal? Glutton Guide  The Hungry Traveler’s Montreal Food Guidebook has the answers to all your culinary questions.

The Montreal food guidebook is the seventh in the Glutton Guide series, following Shanghai, Melbourne, Prague, Buenos Aires, Burlington & Beijing. Designed to help tourists eat like locals, Glutton Guide creates curated guidebooks written by foodie experts.

Mélissa Simard and Amie Watson wrote Glutton Guide Montreal. Mélissa is a trained chef who gives cooking workshops and owns ‘Round Table Tours (Montreal’s premiere food tour company). She also runs a local dinner club for the past 13 years. Amie Watson is a Montreal-based food journalist. She has covered the local food scene for The National Post, Montreal Gazette, AFAR.com, CKUT 90.3FM, Bite This!, the Food Network’s travel show and many more.

“Montreal is a strange and beautiful mix of European charm, tattoo-heavy celebrity chefs, a love for duck fat and all things pork, an obsession with bagels and – oddly – a clean living mentality juxtaposed with a ‘you-only-live-once’ spirit,” says Amie Watson. “We’ve spent more than a decade exploring its fine dining heavy-hitters, its boulangeries and its casse-croute dives alike, and we’ve distilled it all here, like high quality local Gin, into this Glutton Guide.”

Why Glutton Guide?

By concentrating just on the F&B offerings of a city, Glutton Guide’s focus is narrower than broad-strokes guidebooks, picking up where these books fall short by using locally-based author-eaters who know the city’s dining scene inside and out. Unlike travel writers who come and go, these locals bring their thorough understanding and knowledge of the city to each edition, updated regularly as the dining scene evolves.

Glutton Guide goes beyond simple restaurant listings by providing a comprehensive look at the city’s dining scene. In addition to Montreal’s must-do culinary experiences, the guidebook explores the markets, food trucks, Jewish fare and neighborhoods. The reader will also find the city’s best international restaurants, nightlife options, cafes, bakeries, foodie day trips and much more. 

Download Glutton Guide: The Montreal Food Guidebook on our website, Amazon and iBooks.