Montreal has plenty of places to grab a beer, a cocktail or a shooter or 6. But as any accomplished nightlife regular knows, it’s often not the bar that makes the evening memorable but the person working behind it…
What makes a bar special? It’s simple. A good bartender. And, what makes a good bartender? Well, it’s more than a heavy hand and an enduring belief in free drinks. You also need to know your drinks and your clientele. Montrealers love their bartenders, so much that I’ve even heard some refer to them as “nurse.” This isn’t just a term of endearment, it’s a testament to the bond between some Montrealers and their bartenders- and it’s proof that sometimes a good bartender is the best medicine. Here are some of the best Drink Doctors in Montreal:
1. Mike at Hurley’s: What makes this dashing Irishman special is that he’s exactly who you hope to see serving whisky behind the bar at an Irish pub. He’s got a thick Irish brogue, he makes a hearty Irish Car bomb and he’s so easy on the eyes that it looks like he’s not even a real bartender, he just plays one on TV. Go to Hurley’s, have a whiskey and see for yourself.
2. Luc at Romolo: If you’re in the mood for a watering hole that has a tranquil neighbourhood feel by day but a bar scene at night, try Mile End’s Romolo. It’s generally dark and quiet during the week, except of course when there’s a Hab’s game on. Whether it’s an afternoon coffee or a nightcap, the staff always make you feel welcome. If you’re lucky to catch resident barkeep Luc (Thursday or most weekend nights), you won’t be disappointed. Romolo is a no-frills affair, or in his words, “a beer and whiskey place- you’re not going to get a lobster bisque martini or anything.” Instead, you’re going to get a straight shooter who can make a mean Whisky Sour. Romolo is by no means a wine bar, but Luc can always recommend the best of what they’ve got and with ambience and prices like this, it’s more than good enough.
3. Racean at Blizzarts: Blizzarts can be casual and laid back but with the right DJ, the bar can spiral into dance party madness. To help with the transition from a nice sit down affair to a full throttle party is the lovely Racean. Not just a pretty face, but a nice pretty face who is known for her summertime Mojito’s and having fresh ingredients when they’re available. For refreshments during the St. Laurent Street Fair or if you just want to whet your whistle, she’s your gal.
4. Melissa or Filipo at the Baldwin Barmacie are tied. I just couldn’t choose between them. Melissa has great hair and her signature drink is called a Juicy Pussy, which is a drink that isn’t entirely made with all fresh ingredients, but she does what she can. Filipo’s signature drink is a bracing Campari Grapefruit Soda, but he also makes a killer Mojito. Drinks made by these two are always the gold standard of swank cocktails.
5. Kyle at Stogies: If you’re looking for a bar that has a great selection of drinks and a convenient location, try Kyle at Stogies. Stogies is a multi level downtown bar/club that even boasts a cigar lounge if you have a hankering for one. However, Kyle generally works downstairs where he can craft you a killer martini (from their selection of 101) and if that’s not your thing then you can simply enjoy a single malt scotch from their dizzying selection or perhaps, as the photo above suggests, 8 perfectly poured Guinness.
Guest Blogger: Sophie Naima Caird
Hurley’s Irish Pub, 1225 Crescent Street
Baldwin Barmacie, 115 Laurier Street West
Cafe Romolo, 272 Bernard West
Blizzarts, 3956 St Laurent Blvd
Stogies Cigar Lounge, 2015 Crescent Street
Photo Credit: Kyle at Stogies- Val Prudnikov