The most heavily populated city in the Canadian province of Quebec, and the second-most populous city in the entire country (after Toronto), Montreal is a brilliant, clean and very beautiful city that offers a countless number of sights and attractions.
A wonderfully diverse and cosmopolitan metropolis, Montreal was recently named “Canada’s Cultural Capital” by Monocle Magazine, and the city is the undisputed hub for the country’s French-language media and theater industries. Montreal hosts several cultural events, fairs and music festivals each year, and its nightlife scene is considered one of the best in North America. This nightlife includes hundreds of great bars, cocktail lounges and nightclubs, all designed to give the Montreal people (and tourists) a place to relax, party and let loose, if only for a while.
In the following article we have shined a light on several of these great Montreal drinking establishments, and provided a brief description of each—a description that includes each bar’s atmosphere and vibe, usual crowd, food and drink offerings, and the amenities/diversions available to customers.
Dieu du Ciel
Situated at 29 Avenue Laurier Quest in Montreal, the bar known as Dieu du Ciel, or “Good Lord” in English, is a quaint, yet exotic bar and lounge that is very popular among local residents. Although a bit pricey, Dieu du Ciel offers a full menu of house microbrews, domestics and unusual imported beer selections, from stouts that are infused with chocolate malts to spicy red ales with peppercorn accents.
The interior of Dieu du Ciel is sleek and sophisticated, and the well-dressed bartenders rarely miss a drink order (in English or French). The signature cocktail menu is as exotic as the selection of microbrews, including their Aphrodisiac Cocktails, whose ingredients are mainly secret, yet no less delicious.
Attracting a mostly affluent collection of local clientele, the Whiskey Café is an upscale and classy drinking establishment that should definitely be experienced at least once. At the Whiskey Café, it’s very rare to see people actually gathered at the bar, but rather perched in the high-back and very comfortable arm chairs that populate the bar, taking advantage of table service, some great reading material and perhaps even a rich, dark Cohiba cigar. Top Shelf spirits and aged wine are available for customers to sip on, including over 100 varieties of single malt whiskey and scotch.
The stark, yet tasteful bar provides a guest book in which patrons are free to sign in as they enter, and a car service will take you home should you find yourself too inebriated to safely drive. There is also a wonderful café adjacent to the bar, from which many customers order caviar to go along with their libation (s).
Dominion Square Tavern
Located at 1243 Rue Metcalfe, in the heart of downtown Montreal, the Dominion Square Tavern is perhaps the antithesis of the Whiskey Café—a laidback hotspot with affordable drink and grub prices and a simple, welcoming décor. Modeled after a Prohibition-style saloon, the tavern, which is situated just one street away from the decadent temptations of St, Catherine’s Street, boasts nearly 40 varieties of draft beer and ale, and a food menu that includes a number of the French-styled snack foods that are so popular around Montreal.
The Dominion Square Tavern has a long, wooden bar, behind which the two bartenders effortlessly mix up the drink orders that are shouted over the loud jukebox music. Absinthe fountains are perched on the tables that surround the bar, so be careful—just a couple sips of this potent liqueur can go a long way.
A great bar by evening, which transitions into a chic after-hours club come to 2 AM, Stereo is one of the trendiest nightspots in the city, located on the aforementioned Saint Catharine Street. Recently named one of the Top Ten nightclubs in the world by Muzik Magazine, Stereo boasts a state-of-the-art sound system and amazing swivel lighting, which together keep happy revelers dancing into the light of the day. On weekend nights, live performers take the stage as the dancers cheer them on; and on the more subdued weekday nights, DJ-spun tunes and jukebox music is always blaring.
The drinks at Stereo include a full lineup of foreign and domestic beer, and a refreshing array of house-invented cocktails that are always fresh and fruity.
Located at 300 Rue Ontario East, La Distillerie, or “the Distillery,” has a well-known reputation for cocktails that are both large and extremely potent, not to mention fairly reasonably priced. This combination makes it a very popular spot among the city of Montreal’s younger crowd—a group that has perhaps yet to learn their limits.
Both beer and cocktails at La Distillerie are served by the liter (if requested); most in an old Mason jar that is representative of the 1920s. The décor at the bar is glitzy and bright, with both gold and silver accents spread throughout the space. No (main) food service is offered at this bar and nightclub, but there are peanuts and goldfish crackers to nosh on while you sip your favorite drink.
Modeled after some of the bar’s in its namesake city in Japan, the Tokyo Bar is a split-level bar and dance club that truly comes alive on Friday and Saturday nights after 10:00 PM. The small, yet posh club, located in Montreal’s Saint Laurent District, was recently renovated to reflect some of the modern trends in the city. The main room hosts a bar that resembles an old-time saloon, with walk-up service to the long wooden bar and a spattering of rustic tables and benches dispersed neatly around the room. The upstairs area of the tavern is home to a stage area, DJ booth and a fairly small dance floor that is usually jam-packed. The music genres featured at the bar range from rock to indie to hip hop tunes, and the live music is performed mostly by local acts, although occasionally a touring group will stop in for a set or two.
The drink menu is very diverse at the Tokyo Bar, ranging from bottled and draught beer, to fruity cocktails to martinis, of which there are over 80 varieties.
Montreal cityscape by Unsplash/Pixabay CC0 license