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Aug 27, 2010 03:24 PM

Speakeasy type bar in Montreal?

Four of us will be in Montreal on a Saturday night in a couple weeks, and I was hoping to find a place that serves real old-fashioned cocktails.

Something like The Violet Hour in Chicago: the kind of place that has different types of ice and serves each drink in a different type of glass. I've heard of Velvet, but I've also heard it has a $10-15 cover. No thank you. Anyone have any other cocktail bar recommendations?


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  1. If's the Velvet I'm thinking about, then it's a big LOL (sorry 'bout that), it's a swanky club.

    You best bet are hotel bars, but I'm not even certain where in montreal you can find such a place, maybe at the "Queen Elisabeth" ? or one of the newer "Boutique" Hotel ?


    1. I've been to the Violet Hour as well as places like Death&Co in nyc and unfortunately we don't have places of that caliber in Montreal. The best, that I can think of, that use fresh ingredients are Plateau Lounge at the W, Distillerie and Lab. I like Lab but I find their drinks too weak.

      Does anyone know of any fine dining restaurants that have creative cocktail menus? I know cities like Vancouver and nyc do but we're lagging behind. Perhaps it's because of our love of wine.

      1. I always had a soft spot for a properly prepared cocktail, especially the classics. I guess its a nostalgia thing and a seemingly lost art, but it seems to be making a comeback.
        There was an article in the Montreal Gazette awhile back about this very subject;
        Rereading it, there isn't much mention of specific places, but click on
        The cocktail hour: recipes
        which shows where the drinks were sampled.
        Not necessarily a cocktail bar (a restaurant with a bar), but they were doing innnovative drinks last time I was there, Barroco in Old Montreal
        Their website is speakeasyish... Nice cocktails, however, somewhat expensive.

        2 Replies
        1. re: porker

          ... the sunday lobster shack menu sounds interesting especially since sundays not always appealing in restaurantland, might give this lobster menu a try

          i think jellybelly is right, montrealers are more into wines

          1. re: wilmagrace

            And beer too!

            La Distillerie has great drinks but it's not swanky. What about the Baldwin Barmacie? Drinks are good, prices are fair (more so that Le Lab). The decor is not really 'speak easy' but it's got it's own charm.


            Baldwin Barmacie
            115 Avenue Laurier Ouest, Montr, Montreal, QC , CA

        2. Oh well it was worth a shot, thanks for the info! Lab looks like a strong possibility, so thanks for that one!

          1. Hi all - Sorry to revive an old thread, but I'm planning a trip to Montreal and would love to find some great cocktails. Are there any newer recommendations or is the above conversation still the case? Thank you in advance!

            7 Replies
            1. re: addiez

              Options for quality cocktails are still rather lacking in Montreal, but if you're looking (as was the OP) for a speakeasy/1930s vibe, we're starting to see some options in town:

              -Emerald Hotel aka 5295 Parc Ave (I've had good albeit pricey cocktails here)
              -Le Mal Necessaire: just barely open but has that "unmarked-staircase-above-a-chinatown-restaurant" feel in spades. Dave who opened the place previously served up some of my favourite cocktails in town at Chien Fumant, and has also done a good job in curating drinks at Sparrow/Cafe Sardine/Mais, etc etc. All are good places to check out.
              -Dominion Square Tavern: Not always stellar cocktails, but at least there are dedicated bartenders who appear to know what they're doing. Room is great too.
              -Ludger: Overpriced for the neighbourhood, IMO, but I've had great conversations with some of the servers about their cocktail creations. At the very least they might be able to serve you something interesting, even though I've not been particularly impressed with their versions of classic drinks.

              Or check out this list ( for a general survey of the scene, but keep in mind that in Montreal I haven't tasted anything close to the cocktail innovation that's been happening in NYC & Toronto for years. I've actually been to all the establishments listed by Eater except 123 and can confirm that each has redeeming features of one sort or another.

              1. re: Fintastic

                Thanks Fin for the recs; I love the name Emerald Hotel and the "unmarked-staircase-above-a-chinatown-restaurant" feel description. Looking forward to checking them out.

                As others said, maybe not stellar cocktails, but at least a dedicated bartender, Wiggle Room across from Schwartz. Definitely a speakeasy vibe going on. At least one bartender (handlebar moustache guy) is from Dominion Square Pub.
                Small space, burlesque shows, fills up.

                1. re: porker

                  Agree on the Wiggle Room one. Saturdays they usually have burlesque shows so expect a cover price, but I've had some good cocktails there as well.

              2. re: addiez

                Cocktails are something this city does very poorly. The cocktail scene sucks. Other cities (Toronto, New York, on and on) all do it better.

                This doesn't answer your question but truly, honestly - instead of searching for a cocktail bar like one you love wherever you're from, you'll probably have a better time by exploring one of the city's great wine bars. Wine bars we do well.

                1. re: nikkori

                  Thanks for the tip - are there any specific ones you recommend?

                  1. re: addiez

                    Pullman (the food they make is pretty good too)

                    1. re: addiez

                      Vin Papillon, SAT Foodlab, Le Comptoir, Philemon, Buvette Chez Simone!