It’s been quite a few months in the works, and Snowbird Tiki Bar has finally arrived in the former Cafe International on St-Laurent in Little Italy.
The bar (soft) opened over the weekend, with a selection of tropical cocktails, and will buid up to an official opening at the start of May — by then, the cocktail list will be expanded, and a snack-focused kitchen will be in action.
There’s a number of backers on the project — Anthoni Jodoin has experience in the neighbourhood, as owner of Taverne Cobra and Bar Brutus, and Kaled Chaaban runs Das Bier in Petite-Patrie, and Mile Public House on the South Shore. Joining them are mixologists Manny Vides Jr, and Samuel Trudeau, Olympic snowboarder Sébastien Toutant, with Nicolas Gosselin and Zach Aller.
Montreal has been without a full-scale tiki venue since Jardin Tiki shut its doors in 2015 — while there are certainly places serving tiki-style drinks (Le Mal Nécessaire is a key one), nowhere embodies the total tiki package of kitschy décor that was big in the mid-20th century.
Snowbird principal Anthoni Jodoin tells Eater that although they’ll add a touch of modernity, this is the vibe he’s looking for.
“It’s definitely a mix of Polynesian and American influences — that’s what tiki is — rum-based cocktails, crazy garnishes — a very wide selection of rum, all around kitsch decor, and a summery, tropical vibe.”
“Back then tiki was bringing in tropical elements from abroad to people who either couldn’t travel, or who were unaware of it.”
Jodoin adds that the Snowbird team has even managed to get its hands on furniture and décor from long-gone Sheraton Hotel tiki bar Kon Tiki (closed since the 80s).
“Among tiki fans that’s the mecca in Montreal at least...ever since people have heard about this upcoming project we’ve had a lot of people who reached out privately.”
Jodoin says cocktails will be “the star” at Snowbird, including tiki staples like Mai Tais, Zombies and the punch-like Scorpion Bowl. But some options will get more elaborate — respected mixers Samuel Trudeau and Manny Vides Jr. are adding some creations to the menu, although they’re yet to be revealed.
When the kitchen gets going in a few weeks, the food will stay light and match the vibe — Jodoin says poke bowls, fish tacos, and chicken teriyaki are all possibilities.
In the absence of photos from inside Snowbird, take a look at some of the furniture and décor.