Montréal’s award-winning bars
It is well agreed upon that Montréal is a great eating city with a vast variety of award-winning establishments making their way to the top of several prestigious lists. Montréal is also a great drinking city, with many of its bars distinguishing themselves on Canada’s 50 Best Bars list or enRoute Magazine’s list of Canada’s Best New Bars.
Atwater Cocktail Club
No. 5 on Canada’s Best 50 Bars
To get to the Atwater Cocktail Club entrance, you have to walk through a back alley that may make you hesitate, but we promise it’s well worth it. This little hidden bar is a trendy yet cozy gem decorated in warm wood tones and elegant velvets. The cocktail menu is inventive and uses fresh ingredients, some of which are unique, like truffles and cigar smoke. The hand-shaved clear ice cubes and meticulous garnishes are also a plus, as is the food menu by sister restaurant Foiegwa.
No. 6 on Canada’s Best 50 Bars
The Coldroom hides behind an anonymous black metal door in Old Montréal. Follow the house rules listed on its website and you’re guaranteed a good time. The space is classy and counts some classic Old Montréal elements such as grey stone walls and low wood ceiling beams. The cocktail menu is inventive and holds a selection of seasonal drinks as well as the Coldroom crew’s riff on the classics. This bar is shrouded in mystery, including an absence of address anywhere online, but #followtheduck on its social media channels and you may just find it.
No. 7 on Canada’s Best 50 Bars
Montréal’s Golden Square Mile’s Cloakroom Bar is an intimate space decorated in dark tones that infer an elegance and sophistication to this 25-seat speakeasy. The Cloakroom Bar has no menu and all drinks are tailor-made by the talented bartenders, guided by the customer’s tastes and cravings, essentially crafting a bespoke cocktail for every customer. Ice blocks are made in-house, then carved to fit individual drinks. Sophisticated and unique.
El Pequeño Bar
No. 11 on Canada’s Best 50 Bars and No. 8 on enRoute’s Canada’s Best New Bars list
Old Montréal’s El Pequeño Bar invokes sultry summer nights strolling around Havana and lingering in one of its street bars for a mojito or two. As its name indicates, the tiny bar can only accommodate a dozen guests, but what it lacks in square footage, it more than makes up for in charm. The marble-topped bar, dark wood paneling and ornate light fixtures, molding and tchotchkes are an invitation to disconnect and the wide collection of rums will help transport you to Cuba.
No. 14 on Canada’s Best 50 Bars
Nacarat is the Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth Hotel’s bar. Its name alludes to electrifying shades of oranges and reds, which are reflected in the décor, a mix of glam rock and trendy contemporary aesthetics. Nacarat’s signature cocktail menu is organized by flavour (sweet, bitter, umami, etc.) rather than spirit, which makes it brilliantly intuitive. Order a Nacarat is the new black from the Umami section or a Tiki Cobbler from the Spicy section and enjoy your cocktail in the plush bar or on the trendy third floor Nacarat Terrace.
No. 34 on on Canada’s Best 50 Bars
Located in the heart of the Plateau, Le Royal’s underground location is decorated in chic jewel tones and opulent fabrics that invite cocktail lovers to sit down and enjoy the moment. Inventive craft cocktails, an emphasis on local spirits and pretty garnishes contribute to make this bar one of the best in Montréal.
No. 4 on enRoute’s Canada’s Best New Bars list
Located under popular Asian restaurant Hà in Old Montréal, Nhậu Bar has become one of the city’s most lauded drinking establishments. An abundance of interesting Asian-inspired items share the space with dozens of dimly lit oversized paper lanterns floating above in a whimsical dance. The cocktail menu is replete with exotic ingredients and spices such as Lapsang souchong, tonka and soju. Order a pandan sour or share a Kokachin, an exquisite floral libation made with sake, elderflower, jasmine and bergamot and served in a Buddha statue for two. Bonus: the Hà kitchen crew is behind the creative food menu and it is delightful.
Mayssam Samaha, blogger
Mayssam Samaha is a food and travel writer and blogger and the founder behind the blog Will Travel for Food. She travels the world in search of the next culinary discovery. From Iceland to South Africa, she’s already visited over 30 countries and there’s nothing she enjoys more than wandering around a farmers’ market in a foreign city. She is also the founder of the SAISONS intimate dinner series highlighting Québec products and chefs.