Choice Montreal Bars, Pubs, and Bistros by Neighborhood
But for a proper pub crawl, you need to know your way around a few Montreal neighborhoods. Keep reading to discover Montreal's best bars, pubs, and bistros by general location.
For years, Montreal's downtown core left cocktail hunters wanting. Apart from Irish pubs, Crescent Street, and a handful of dives, the downtown "scene" was meh at best. But the area cleaned itself up nicely over the last decade.
Private gentlemen's club turned upscale hotel Le Saint Stephen opened its repurposed doors last spring and with it came Bar George, a modern British bar with distinctively English flavors. Pimm's, gin, and whisky top the cocktail ingredients list.
Contrast and compare Britishness with nearby Taverne Dominion Square. Try their Ploughman's platters and sip on a gin and homemade tonic.
Then drop by Japanese cocktail bar Gokudo. It's hidden behind a "fish shack." Just make a beeline for the curtain.
For your basic down-to-earth bar/bistro with decent happy hour specials, head to NYK'S. And order a poutine. Its house foie gras sauce and reasonable price all ingredients considered earn it a spot among Montreal's best poutines.
In summer months, Hyatt's Six Resto Lounge is glorious if only for the view on its hidden sixth floor belvedere terrace.
On the edge of Quartier des Spectacles is Quartier Latin, a small end-of-downtown district chock full of back-to-back terraces and bars.
Favorites include Bar le Lab, the ultimate stocked bar. A dozen plus brands of absinthe, over 20 different gins, and a brilliant lineup of original cocktails are on offer.
On the edge of Quartier Latin and the Plateau, Le 4e mur's secret location isn't quite so hush anymore. But you still need to sign up as a member on the website and say the password to get in. One of the best places in Montreal.
La Distillerie proposes great cocktails, complimentary board games, and you can even bring your own food.
And shout-out to Bar à Jojo, Montreal's blues bar par excellence located in the heart of Quartier Latin on St. Denis, not too far from Le Saint-Bock.
Named the eight most beautiful restaurant in the world by Business Insider earlier this summer, Arcade Fire-owned Agrikol brings its Haitian sensibilities, tropical vibe, and rum-based cocktails to its neighboring sister bar, Ti Agrikol.
South of Chinatown is Old Montreal and its brigade of swank nightlife destinations. If in doubt, stand around and watch where the pretty people go.
In-the-know clubbers head to Velvet, an underground venue located inside Auberge St. Gabriel.
Even more off the riff raff radar is the Coldroom, an unmarked, sign-free cocktail bar on St. Vincent Street. If you can figure out how to get to the bar, you'll love it.
If you don't mind that it's a restaurant, if you can, get a table (or spot at the bar) at Le Bremner. The cocktails and food are amazing. Better yet, reserve. No room? Hop over to its bubbly neighbor, La Champagnerie. They'll even let you saber a bottle of champagne if you buy from a special selection.
From a past riddled with abandoned buildings and industrial grit west of Old Montreal to today's chic condos and some of the city's finest restaurants taking up residence in the area, including Joe Beef and Liverpool House, Griffintown and parts of Little Burgundy have changed beyond recognition within the last ten years.
Owned by the guys behind Joe Beef, Le Vin Papillon is a small but extremely popular wine bar that doesn't take reservations. Intent on nabbing a table? Get there by 5:30 p.m. and you should be good to go. Any later is a toss up.
The always lively, toujours hopping Burgundy Lion put British pubs (and whisky worship) on contemporary Montreal's map. You'd have to drink a different whisky every day for close to a year to get through their menu.
As for secret bars, try Le Henden, if you can find it. There are only 25 seats and a 45 standing capacity in the Playboy and '70s Morrocan speakeasy styled basement below upscale fried chicken joint Le Bird Bar.
Next, go to hidden bar Atwater Cocktail Club. It's in a back alley behind Foiegwa, a French bistro and haute diner open late and worth its own drop-in. Both are run by the same people behind Old Montreal's Barroco.
So many bars on the Plateau. Where to start.
Play pinball and drink cheap booze or upscale drinks — it's your price choice, they've got two menus — at North Star higher up on St. Laurent.
Keep walking north and you'll hit hidden speakeasy Big in Japan and its swank candlelit interior. Keep going to make it to live music dive Divan Orange.
Take a right on Rachel and walk to Mayfair. Boozed up tea cocktails, assorted drinks, pretty folk, and British finger foods await. Current hot spot.
And experience L'Express, the ultimate Montreal bistro. Open late, sit at the bar and order rillettes or a hangar steak to go along with something off their extensive wine list.
Love Harry Potter? You might like Lockhart. It's not die-hard Harry Potter themed though. Let's say mildly inspired.
Or kick it with the locals at nearby L'Barouf or Le Boudoir on Mont-Royal. The former has a great beer menu and the latter a fantastic scotch selection, decent screens to watch the game, and the prices are right, so right you can bring your own food and staff won't care. They'll even give you flyers if you're not sure where to get takeout.
For years, the Emerald Hotel was — and still is — the bar with no name, its tuxed-up bar staff serving elegant cocktails in a cross between a scene out of Marrakech, '50s Havana and a '20s speakeasy.
Brush up on your hipster ping pong (if you can score the table) with a glass of vino at Ping Pong Club.
Want beer over wine and cocktails? Walk another block to Dieu du Ciel, Montreal's top brewpub.
Mile-Ex and Little Italy
Declared ''Montreal's hippest new neighborhood'' in 2016 by the likes of Vogue, Mile-Ex is a small, scruffy patch of blocks north of still-cool Mile End and one block west of Little Italy, a teeny neighborhood beside Jean-Talon Market.
Closed in the winter, Alexandraplatz rolls up its industrial garage door in warmer months to serve microbrews, choice wines, and crafty cocktails. People typically spill out onto the parking lot. Popular place.
Snowbird Tiki Bar keeps it real with umbrella drinks, garish decor, and Hawaiian shirts. Theme nights — Archie, Beach Boys, Elvis — are de rigueur.
With craft beer and a kitchen open til 2 a.m., Brasserie Harricana satiates hungry patrons all night long with a varied menu including roasted veggies, monkfish burgers, and char-grilled meats. Haute comfort.
And Notre Dame des Quilles mixes LGBT, drink specials, and bowling. Fun.
La Petite Patrie
It's not as easy to stumble on nightlife gems in La Petite Patrie –Little Italy's eastern neighbor– as it is in the Plateau, Mile End, and Mile-Ex. But with premier restaurants like Montréal Plaza altering the landscape, change is in the air.
Idole plays with the concept of secret society which gels rather nicely with its gothic grotto of a basement.
Indulge your inner luchador at Nacho Libre, a goofball taco bar and neighborhood favorite.
And rub shoulders with locals at Medley, a neighborhood pub that's been on Plaza St. Hubert for years. Full every weekend night, it seems. Features regular open mic and swing nights.