Cheers to cocktail bars in Montréal

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal's ecclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.

When a pint seems too basic and a bottle of wine lacks that inventive flair, Montréal’s cocktail bars hit the perfect note. From classics that’ll make you feel like you’re part of the Rat Pack to avant-garde mixology magic that reinvents the craft, we’ve got it all! All that’s left to do is choose your spot.

Nouveau classics in Old Montréal

This chic after-work hangout mixes genius-worthy inventiveness with retro vibes. Take the  Rosewood’s version of an Old Fashioned, for example: the classic mix of bourbon, angostura and orange twist gets boosted with a spritz of orange syrup and a blast of cedar smoke. Caliente!

Far-out flavours on a cobbled street

Join the handsome crowd in this Old Montréal haunt for a sip at some truly exemplary drinks. Mimi la Nuit’s short cocktail menu hits all the bases: some sweet, some savoury, some traditional, but most pretty unique. Start off with a plateful of street-food inspired snacks and a Shag at Sea: an absolutely unexpected (and delicious) mix of cognac, pine syrup and chocolate bitters.

Old Montréal hides amazing Japanese tipples

Head to the heart of the old city for a true taste of Japan! In the true spirit of isakayas, Flyjin serves de-li-cious Japanese snacks (miso baked oysters, anyone?) alongside cocktails that break the mold with their unique Asian inflections. Try the Zen Buddha: a fragrant blend of Korean soju, cucumber juice, mint infused syrup, fresh lime juice and bubbles.

Come-again cocktails in a beer garden

Kampai Garden in Little Korea may have a mouthwatering beer list, but wait until you taste the cocktails. The twists on traditional concoctions like sangria (here elevated with oolong tea and lime juice) and mojitos (with a peach and ginger twist) will make you come back again and again. As will the kimchi-topped hot dogs.

The Plateau’s premium Japanese whiskey bar

Smooth and velvety like a speakeasy, this Plateau nook is the perfect place to sip a while. Big in Japan may be hard to find (the door is unmarked), but once you’re in you’ll feel instantly at home with the happening crowd. Saddle up to the long bar and order one of their classic cocktails, like a negroni or a Pimm’s Cup: you can be sure it’ll be expertly made.

Next-level cocktails at a neighbourhood hangout

It’s no-nonsense and homey, but the cocktails are out of this world. Nestled on St-Zotique in Rosemont, Bar Le Jockey is a Cheers-type of home-away-from-home for a large family of regulars. Come catch the game and down a cocktail or three: maybe the pear-inflected Poire Picolée, or how about the sweeter Candy Collins (gin, St-Germain, raspberry purée, citrus and sugar)?

Chinatown’s hidden treasure

Le Mal Nécessaire is nothing but “bien” where we’re concerned! From the design to the flavours, this hipster joint hidden in Chinatown has it all on point. The tipples are like nothing you’ve tasted. Try the tropically refreshing Chia Fresca: gin, cucumber, coconut water, chia seeds (yes), lemon and Tai basil.

Cocktail lounge in the middle of it all

Blocks away from the Quartier des Spectacles, this spot straddles the Plateau and downtown. Mme Lee is a live music club where sushi-inspired snacks and Asian cocktails rule. Order the sushi pizza topped with salmon and tuna tartare, with a Honey Dew cocktail on the side, mixing white rum, St-Germain, basil syrup, melon and orange juice.

Bubbly fun awaits in Old Montréal

Celebrate life with champagne and cocktails on Montréal’s cobblestoned streets. It’s a constant party at Maison Saint-Paul, where the glittering crowd clinks glasses of every sort of bubbly imaginable. Explore the delectable AND hilariously named cocktail options, like the Michael Bubbly (vodka, Lillet, sesame syrup and bubbles) or the Salty Pampam (gin, Aperol, grapefruit syrup, salt bitters and bubbles).

Here’s to a night on the Canal

The Canal Lounge is a 45-year-old moored riverboat on the Lachine Canal at the foot of Atwater that’s been retrofitted into a chic cocktail lounge. Get into the mood with a Malibu Seabreeze (coconut rum, pineapple and cranberry) and a sharing plate of tapenades, then let the atmosphere wash over you.

Take a Charleston down memory lane

This glamorous Old Montréal boutique bar and eatery revives the burlesque era. Relive the Roaring Twenties at Bord’Elle, the glittering spot where Montréal’s financial district lets its hair down. The cocktails are retro-modern like the décor, offering boutique flavours that include a whole selection of gin & tonics (try the girly Pour Elle, with notes of elder flower, black pepper and strawberries).

A taste for history

Dominion Square Tavern is a restored 1920s pub whose impeccable period vibe features rich woods, caramel-leather seats, terrazzo flooring, fantastic British food and house cocktails that straddle the line of old school and newfangled. A perennial favourite: the Creamsicle, a delectable mix of gin, orange juice and egg-white froth.

St-Henri’s favourite neighbourhood hangout

Find your home away from home in this shiny speakeasy on Atwater. All brass, glass and green marble, the handsome Atwater Cocktail Club in the alley beside the restaurant Foiegwa is the type of place you won’t want to leave. A big part of that is the cocktail list – you’ll want to try every one, starting with the Smoke Show (it comes under its own smoke-filled bell jar).

Hot drinks at the Old Port

Steps away from Place Jacques-Cartier, The Coldroom is a subterranean enclave redolent with gentlemanly grace and stunning cocktails. Mine the inspired seasonal menu, or the house spins on classics including the sharing drink, Granpa’s Cough Medecine: Jagermeister, Johnny Walker Black, clementine, eucalyptus, lemon and vanilla bitters.

Tea never tasted so good

This posh lounge on the Plateau serves spiked teas and sultry cocktails. From the tufted banquettes to the Art Nouveau light fixtures, Mayfair sets a Victorian tone with fancy, English-inspired drinks like the King Richard: whisky, sherry, Kusmi Gyokuri tea, lemon juice, ginger-apple syrup and soda. To go with it, why not order tea sandwiches or bacon-loaded sausage rolls?

Cocktails and tacos, olé!

The warm atmosphere of Escondite says take a load off, order some nosh (the truffle-spiked quesadillas are satisfaction itself) and settle down to a drinkable taste fiesta. On the cocktail menu, the signature drinks serve up mezcal, rum, bourbon and more Mexican-style – like the El Chingón, featuring Wild Turkey, chamoy syrup and fresh-squeezed lime. 

Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal's ecclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.

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