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Speakeasy type bar in Montreal?

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abco Aug 27, 2010 03:24 PM

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?

Thanks!

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  1. m
    Maximilien RE: abco Aug 27, 2010 04:38 PM

    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 ?

    M.

    1. j
      jellybelly25 RE: abco Aug 27, 2010 04:56 PM

      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. porker RE: abco Aug 27, 2010 07:03 PM

        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;
        http://www.montrealgazette.com/life/n...
        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
        http://www.barroco.ca/
        Their website is speakeasyish... Nice cocktails, however, somewhat expensive.

        2 Replies
        1. re: porker
          w
          wilmagrace RE: porker Aug 27, 2010 07:55 PM

          ... 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
            t
            The Chemist RE: wilmagrace Aug 28, 2010 07:59 AM

            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.

            http://baldwinbarmacie.com/

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

        2. a
          abco RE: abco Aug 28, 2010 07:18 AM

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

          1. a
            addiez RE: abco May 17, 2014 11:59 AM

            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
              f
              Fintastic RE: addiez May 17, 2014 02:08 PM

              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 (http://montreal.eater.com/archives/20...) 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
                porker RE: Fintastic May 18, 2014 06:10 AM

                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
                  p
                  pkzilla RE: porker May 18, 2014 06:25 PM

                  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
                n
                nikkori RE: addiez May 17, 2014 03:17 PM

                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
                  a
                  addiez RE: nikkori May 18, 2014 01:45 PM

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

                  1. re: addiez
                    k
                    kpaxonite RE: addiez May 18, 2014 04:24 PM

                    Pullman (the food they make is pretty good too)

                    1. re: addiez
                      n
                      nikkori RE: addiez May 19, 2014 09:49 AM

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

                      Enjoy!

                2. m
                  mrm_ch RE: abco May 17, 2014 03:00 PM

                  Speakeasy type? Made in Japan.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mrm_ch
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                    Fintastic RE: mrm_ch May 18, 2014 08:00 AM

                    Big in Japan Bar (the one at St. Laurent and Rachel, not Des Pins)

                    1. re: Fintastic
                      m
                      mrm_ch RE: Fintastic May 19, 2014 05:01 PM

                      Thanks for the fix. I was subconsciously hoping they wouldn't find it. Now we'll have to line up for longer!

                  2. c
                    CaptCrunch RE: abco May 19, 2014 01:22 PM

                    Never went to The Violet Hour in Chicago but I understand and love the same type of bars.

                    Your best bet is the Big in Japan Bar (be careful not to mistake it for the Big in Japan restaurant which is something else).
                    http://www.yelp.ca/biz/big-in-japan-b...

                    One of my favorite place in MTL. Its basically one big long bar with velvet drapes and candles (there is a couple of table but not many). The playlist is a mix of old Chanson Francaise, Bossa Nova and Crooner era classics.

                    My favorite alcohol there is Umeshu, a very sweet plum liqueur (about 10-15% alcohol) with a fragrant cherry aroma. They rotate the cocktail drinks but you can order off the menu if you want (we tested old fashioned, sazerac, vieux carrés among other classics and they came out great).

                    Like all bars of this type, it gets full quickly. Space is limited too. 4 people is probably the maximum possible.

                    No cover.

                    ----

                    There are also mixologist type bars but they focus more on new creations than serving old classics. La Distillerie on Ontario is one of those.
                    http://www.yelp.ca/biz/la-distillerie...

                    ---

                    Another place you might enjoy is Sarah B. Not as nice as Big in Japan Bar but its one of the only absinthe bar I know. They have absinthe fountains, a selection of green liquors and a couple of alcoves divided by curtains which offer a measure of privacy. Its a hotel bar in the old montreal, a bit hidden and not as much of a bustle as other bars I know but getting drunk on absinthe is pretty unique!!!
                    http://www.yelp.ca/biz/le-sarah-b-mon...

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                    One last "old fashioned" place you might enjoy (your distance will vary on this one!) is a classic burlesque cabaret called wiggle room. I never went there but its high on my list. There are shows so there is a cover but its a rare place that tries to capture a version of Montreal everybody forgot (where people came in by train and Lily St.Cyr and Jazz ruled the day!).
                    http://wiggleroom.ca/

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: CaptCrunch
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                      lawyergirl77 RE: CaptCrunch May 20, 2014 07:28 AM

                      I can vouch for the Wiggle Room's cocktails. They make the best Old Fashioned I've ever had (important caveat: In Mtl).

                      It is, however, a tiny room. Seats maybe 200 people. Maybe. Fills up fast on the weekends when they have bigger headliner shows.

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