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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
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.
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).
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.
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!