Old Montreal restaurant Venice isn’t done expanding quite yet: principal Charles Manceau has now added a plush mezcal and tequila bar named Clandestino, beneath the original Venice and its adjoining bar on St François-Xavier Street.
Although it’s tucked beneath Venice’s new-ish cocktail bar Boho (and its entrance is attached to Boho), the vibe is distinctly different: Boho is bright, cocktail-oriented, and as Manceau explaned when it opened. Boho was conceived as something of a neighbourhood bar for an area that’s heavy on nightclubs, hotel bars and other high-end drinking establishments, but light on more casual and accessible options.
Clandestino, meanwhile, is more refined and particular. It’s fairly strictly focused on tequila and mezcal: according to food blog Tastet, over 100 varieties (mostly private imports) are on hand, and it looks to be a destination for tasting cactus-based liquors in the city. Flights of three tequilas or mezcals are on offer, and they can be ordered individually by the ounce, or even by the bottle, for those looking to splash (the most expensive runs close to $900).
Tequila and mezcal cocktails are also on offer, with original creations and a whopping 15 different kinds of salt to accompany them.
There’s a distinct ambiance to the cavern-like space: plush, warm-coloured couches and antiquities give a high-class den feel to the completely underground space. Some might call it a “speakeasy” (but given that this is not Prohibition era United States, that’s not quite accurate), but with just 30 seats it does have a certain exclusive, private club atmosphere.
Clandestino rounds out Manceau’s big year of expansions — first came a new Venice location, followed by Boho — Clandestino was the final step in the plans, which seem to have firmly established Manceau’s place in Old Montreal.
STATUS — Clandestino is open at 436 St François-Xavier, Wednesday to Sunday from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m.