Drinking Age in Montreal

What's the Legal Drinking Age in Montreal?

The legal drinking age in Montreal is low compared to the rest of Canada and south of the border in the U.S.A.
••• The legal drinking age in Montreal is low compared to the drinking age set in most of Canada and south of the border in the U.S.A. Paula Bronstein / Getty Images

IWhat Is the Drinking Age in Montreal?

Like in all of the province of Quebec as well as in the provinces of Alberta and Manitoba, the legal drinking age in Montreal is set at age 18. It used to be age 20 until legislation changed it to 18 years of age in July 1972. The rest of Canada has the legal drinking age set at age 19.

Does That Mean I Can Frequent Any Bar, Strip Club or Other Alcohol-Serving Establishment in Montreal as Long as I'm 18?

In practice, yes. However, a minority of nightclubs set admission age at 21 so just be on the lookout for house rules. But in the vast majority of cases, yes, you can absolutely frequent alcohol-serving establishments -or in the case of restaurants, order any beverage on the menu- in Montreal as long as you're 18 years of age.

What About Public Drinking? Can I Drink on the Street in Montreal?

Believe it or not, there is a legal way to drink outdoors in Montreal. But it's not exactly straightforward and if you don't do your research, you could end up with a nasty fine. Nonetheless, it's a nifty little loophole as long as you know how to work the bylaws.

What About Blood Alcohol Levels? What's the Maximum Allowed for Drivers?

I'm glad you asked. I cover that critical question here.

Why Is the Legal Drinking Age So Much Lower in Quebec Than in the United States?

Perhaps the question should be rephrased as "why is legal drinking age so much higher in the United States than in Quebec?" given that most countries with legal drinking ages set them at age 18 or 19, not 21. Nonetheless, the United States' legal drinking age is 21, which invariably leads select Americans to periodically express concern that youth between the ages of 18 and 21 visit Montreal and the province of Quebec for one reason and one reason only: to drink.

Ironically, most of the world's population likely consider that same concern an overreaction. In 2016, the only other countries in the world apart from the United States to outlaw the purchase of alcohol prior to age 21 were Côte d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Iraq, Kiribati, Micronesia, Mongolia, Nauru, Oman, Palau, Samoa and Sri Lanka.

But for some Canadians, the debate over what is the most appropriate age to allow alcohol consumption rages on. In 2013, psychologist Russell Callaghan attempted to revive the question of whether Canada should standardize the legal drinking age across the country, suggesting that ”raising the drinking age to 19 years of age in Alberta, Manitoba, and Québec would prevent seven deaths of 18-year-old men each year.”

That conclusion was calculated based on correlational findings collected by Callaghan and a research team led by the University of Northern British Columbia which reported a significant increase in deaths among young men within the first year of being allowed to legally drink alcohol. Ladies, on the other hand, seem to handle their liquor a little better. According to the same study, no significant correlations were found between young women reaching the legal drinking age and increased mortality within the first year of law permitted alcohol consumption.

Of Drinking Age? Here's Where to Go in Montreal

Aching for a brewski? Head to Montreal's best brewpubs for tasty craft beers, or Montreal's top izakayas for choice sake. Or keep it simple with the classics at Montreal's Irish pubs.

Sip on a martini in the highest restaurant in Montreal.

Chinatown also has a couple of Tiki-inspired spots. And in warmer months, the city's best terraces are the place to be to enjoy cocktails with a side of people-watching.

Live music with that drink? Go with Montreal's best jazz clubs or find the kind of music you like, from indie to hip hop or EDM, with this list of recommended Montreal music venues and clubs.

Sports? Get thee to Montreal's sports bars.