Home to more than 6,000 restaurants, a booming natural wine scene and a slew of food festivals (from Poutinefest to Diner en Blanc), Montreal is no stranger to serious food and drink. What’s more, the city is seeing big-time growth in cocktail culture, as evidenced by the cocktail-slinging drinking dens that have opened across town, all with their own take on quality Montreal nightlife.
And the fun is just beginning. “Montreal's craft cocktail scene is still very young, which is exciting for all of us,” says bar owner Kevin Demers. “It’s inspiring to see the number of motivated people in this industry who are eager to show off our city and the work we’re doing here.”
From a Cuban-inspired corner fixture to a lavish hotel lounge and a Victorian hideaway, these are five great spots for sipping cocktails in Montreal.
El Pequeño Bar
When Montreal gets frigidly cold, as it’s known to do, head to the coziest bar in the city to warm up with a good drink. El Pequeño Bar fits the bill, clocking in at a mere 160 square feet, hence its name (it means “the small bar” in English). Despite the diminutive space, it has earned one of the biggest followings in town for tropically inspired drinks like Pineapple Daiquiris and Mojitos (any of which match up magically with the venue’s only food item on the menu, a locally lauded Cubano sandwich). If you crave more space, head next door to sister bar Coldroom, a Prohibition-style speakeasy focused on Canadian whisky and bourbon.
Established in what was once the Royal Bank’s vaults in Old Montreal, this subterranean club draws on its original construction and longstanding history for a lively space that has stood the test of time—and it ushers in a new generation of Montreal to prove it. Marvel at wood moldings, brass fixtures and velvet textures while embracing energetic crowds and plenty of dancing here, thanks to a state-of-the-art light and sound system. That late-night draw assists in producing show-stopping entertainment well into the wee hours, as patrons take it all in while sipping unique cocktails, wines and sakés.
Well-heeled cocktail lovers congregate at this lobby-level drinking den situated within the Four Seasons Hotel. Montrealer Zébulon Perron designed the space, a striking sight of velvet banquettes, custom Mount Royal-inspired wallpaper, mirrored walls and the bar’s most eye-catching attribute, a wall made entirely of hand-cut crystal imported from Australia. Kick things off with drinks like the Old Gods (with Glenmorangie, verjus and honey) or the Golden Square Mile (a Vieux Carré spinoff served over a golden ice cube). When hunger strikes, rest assured you’re in the right place: Celebrated chef Marcus Samuelsson oversees the menu here, a seafood-centric presentation of everything from sashimi and crudo to tartare and whole fish.
The team behind Atwater Cocktail Club, Barroco and Foiegwa strikes again with this tropically inspired cocktail bar, which opened in the Pointe-Saint-Charles neighborhood in early 2019. A neon palette exudes a righteously ’80s vibe, but the music spans the decades. Settle in for standouts like the Bon pour le Moral, with coconut vodka, St-Germain, blue curaçao and pineapple rum, or the Dishbé Dios, a Penicillin riff with rye, mezcal and beet. Pair them with a variety of plates from sister restaurant Fugazzi, like the signature pizzas, which see toppers like wild mushrooms and thyme-infused honey.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
Parliament Pub & Parlour
Inspired by the Canadian Parliament building that once stood across the street, this bar shines a light on the nation’s Victorian era and the events and people that played into it. That age informs each cocktail, so ask your bartender for the story behind drinks like the Hook, Ladder & Hose, a rye and clove syrup concoction inspired by Montreal fire chief Alfred Perry, or The Young Queen, a melding of scotch, port and crème de violette honoring the indulgent dining habits of Queen Victoria. There’s much dining to be had here as well, by way of British-leaning bites like salmon gravlax with buckwheat crumpets and nasturtiums or brown bread ice cream with Marmite caramel and sponge toffee.