Montreal’s drinking culture has a long and storied reputation that lives on with its best bars. There are watering holes aplenty in this town, but only so many go the extra mile when it comes to dives, beers, cocktails, wine and everything else in between. There’s a lot to dive into, as the city’s bars have stepped up their wine options, embraced a burgeoning cider and craft brew scene, and incorporated a variety of cocktail ingredients that’ll make your head spin—in the best of ways. These 25 essential Montreal bars are all solid bets, focusing on a range of offerings and vibes.Read More
The 25 Essential Bars in Montreal
Head to these spots for first dates, boozy nights out, and everything in between.
This wine spot billed as a Nordic wine bar with central and northern European bottles in Petite-Patrie comes from sommelier expertise care of Nikolas Da Fonseca (ex-Petit Mousso), and it shows: The menu’s built with different flavour profiles such as juicy, mineral or “punk”, meaning that there’s something for just about any palate.
Bar St. Denis
You wouldn’t know by looking at it that this was once a local dive that didn’t have much going for it beyond video lottery terminals and tall bottles of beer, but this is one of the more accomplished Montreal bars in the city. Specializing in small plates and natural wine alongside beers and one of the city’s longest cider lists, this restaurant and bar from ex-Au Pied de Cochon chefs Emily Homsy and David Gauthier excels in just about every category.
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Snowbird Tiki Bar
When it comes to tiki-style drinks, few can hold a candle to this bar in La Petite-Patrie. Yes, it has all the trappings with its bamboo seating and kitsch, but it’s really about the stupendously boozy classics—from zombies and mai tais to jungle birds and painkillers—as well as party-sized vessels best shared with friends. Don’t believe how high-proof it gets here? They categorize their drinks by the following categories: I work tomorrow, I’m calling in sick, I’m texting my ex, and I lost my cell phone.
Le Rouge Gorge
For a casual glass of wine or two after work, Rouge Gorge has an almost overwhelmingly extensive selection to choose from. Drinking with friends? Go for any of the large format bottles to keep the party going.
Dieu du Ciel!
This Mile End microbrasserie has obtained a major following for its local brews and hyper-snackable nachos. With 20 different beers to choose from, there’s something for everyone from beer nerds to casual drinkers.
Having conquered Verdun, the people behind Verdun’s Bar Palco turned their attention to giving the Village a neighbourhood bar, and super-friendly Renard is the result. It’s a little heavier on the cocktail side — get an Aperol spritz and take in the pedestrian street life on the terrasse at this LGBTQ-friendly spot.
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Buvette Chez Simone
Perfect for 5 à 7 sips or date night drinks, Buvette Chez Simone keeps the fun flowing with a notable selection of by-the-glass pours, although stopping at just one can be difficult. The charcuterie and cheese plates are also solid.
Big in Japan
Blink and you might miss the entrance to this speakeasy-style cocktail bar in the Plateau where attentive and smartly-dressed servers pair drinks with highly attentive levels of hospitality. Unique cocktails and wine lists are the name of the game here, as are the hanging bottles of whisky available for rent that guests can return to throughout a year’s time.
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Part high-end snack spot, part wine and cocktail bar, Majestique has pushed all the right buttons for Montrealers since opening a couple years back. For hungry drinkers, the hot dog comes highly recommended.
Le 4e Mur
Created by teachers from L’Ecole du Bar de Montréal, a local bartending school, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think that the mixology at this speakeasy bar is on point. As are the theatrics: Press on the right brick in a wall, and the door to a bar inspired by the 1920s reveals itself to customers, where high-concept drinks come paired with mysteries to solve.
It might be a beer bar, but Pamplemousse skips the standard woody pub trapping in favour of something peachy and fun. It has a seriously wide-ranging beer selection running from sours to milk stouts, and intriguing snacks that draw influences from the Caribbean and India. Despite the beer focus, cocktail and wine options here are certainly not neglected.
This wine bar at Parc and Sherbrooke was one of Montreal’s first, and has been pouring wine for well over a decade. Prices can be steep, but bottles are half-price on Sunday, making them even more palatable.
Follow the duck to this Old Montreal speakeasy, where an illuminated duck is the only signage hinting to the location of the doorbell that lets customers into this establishment. Once inside, saddle up at the bar for well-made cocktails with a menu that changes seasonally. Be warned: it can get very busy, but the person working the door will take your number and text you when a table’s available.
El Pequeño Bar
Known for its combination of small stature and exceedingly skilled bartending, this Cuban-influenced institution has garnered a lot of accolades. It all comes down to its tidy menu of classics like mojitos and pina coladas in addition to some creations that play on Caribbean notes.
Tucked beneath Peruvian-Japanese restaurant Tiradito is Club Pelicano, which draws its inspiration from a French art déco swimming pool. Despite the historic reference point, it feels distinctly modern, with a fun crowd, solid cocktails, tasty snacks, and some of the most interesting decor in town.
Don’t be fooled; despite its location inside a massive chain hotel, Nacarat makes some of the most thoughtful, well-executed cocktails in the city. Bartenders spend months testing recipes before they make the menu, if they even make the cut at all, making for long menus that are equal parts classic cocktails and personal inventions.
Located on de la Montagne behind a menswear store of the same name, the Cloakroom serves up high-end cocktails without a menu. Bartenders will suss out your spirit or flavour preferences, and hand you a drink you didn’t even know you wanted until you taste it.
Live bands, cold beer, and good company: That’s the menu at Grumpy’s. While most pubs in downtown Montreal tend to lean either corporate or strictly Irish, this one is wholeheartedly by and for the city. Run by locals, it’s a watering hole for every walk of life, drawn in by the low prices and well-kept secret of a terrasse out back in the summer. Bonus: This was a popular haunt for Montreal writer Mordecai Richler.
Little Burgundy is home to Burgundy Lion, the neighbourhood’s favourite British pub (and maybe the most popular in the whole city). Come for a pint of inexpensive Burgundy Lion ale and stay for the fish and chips. Plus, there’s always a football (read: soccer) match on the telly.
Milky Way Cocktail Bar
It wasn’t the first to serve up cocktails in Pointe-Saint-Charles, but it certainly set the bar higher: Milky Way Cocktail Bar is the latest from the Barroco Hospitality Group — known for spots like Atwater Cocktail Club — but here, cocktails get turned up a notch further in every way, from the flavours at play to the glassware. Come for the drinks, and stay for the jungle terrarium skylight and vaporwave accents.
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Bar de Courcelle
Somewhat of a raucous party spot on weekends, yes, Bar de Courcelle (or BDC) is St-Henri’s go-to neighbourhood bar with classic cocktails, decent wine, and beers ranging from Labatt 50 to a few St-Ambroise brews.
Saint-Henri’s bar Löic is the neighbourhood hotspot for oenophiles looking to enjoy their natural, biodynamic offerings. The food is also on point, with local small plates and a concise selection of desserts — enjoy it all on the leafy terrasse in summer months.
Sud-Ouest has been on the microbrew map ever since this brewery opened, specializing in as many hoppy beers as they do smoothie sours and other flavours of the week. The menu tends to change frequently, and that means repeat visits are always interesting—while a residency kitchen with Mitch Deli keeps thirsty patrons well-fed.
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This Irish pub in NDG features live music, cold beer, and a sense of community that’s difficult to find in many modern-day drinking establishments. For a knock-off drink with friends after a long day, Honey Martin is as close to Cheers as you’ll get.
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For years, Verdun was a bar-free zone due to archaic liquor laws — those were finally lifted in 2014, allowing for some stellar neighbourhood drinking options like this eclectically-decorated venue. The owners of Little Burgundy’s Drinkerie Ste-Cunégonde are involved, meaning cocktails are a forte, but it’s just an all-round great hang spot, be it for a plate of roasted chicken, or occasional live music.