After seeing my cohorts down 5 Shots at 5 Bars and 5 Beers at 5 Bars, I knew I had to get in on the action. So I called up fellow Montreal Insider Sophie to hold my hand through our tour of 5 Cocktails at 5 Montreal bars…
Here, I’ve narrowed down this city’s finest drinking establishments to a choice handful. This list works well for (a) Little Miss Thang who needs a little ambience with her boisson and (b) any guy looking to please his lady—or looking for a lady to please. Either way, come dressed to impress.
PULLMAN straddles both Downtown and the Plateau, so I never really can pinpoint or predict the crowd. It’s definitely older one, except for the few McGill kids that stick out like sore thumbs. Pullman is a wine bar, a fact that is artistically represented by the wineglass chandelier over the main bar. Sommelier Gabriel served us a COIMBRA, a sangria-ish drink named after its namesake city in Portugal. A refreshing mix of porto blanc, lime and tonic, this refreshing glass has sunny-day-on-the-beach written all over it – mind you, sunny-day-on-the-beach wearing an Armani Collezioni caftan, oversized DVF shades and a floppy hat.
Next stop was SUITE 701 LOUNGE in Old Montreal. As the bar is connected to chic boutique hotel Place d’Armes, we entered a jet-setter hangout frequented by young professionals staying at the establishment. Housed in a former bank (St-Jacques, the street upon which the bar sits, was the Wall Street of Montreal way back in the day), you can still smell money in the air, and I’m not referring to the fancy-schmancy shoes of the fashionistas present. Behind the bar, Julien from France is the resident mixologist. He made us something he calls Le Royal Sour, which is a “Montreal version of a whisky sour.” Julien chose Crown Royal (a Canadian bourbon) and instead of sugar poured in maple syrup. In went some Grand Marnier and lemon juice, then a little bit of shaky-shaky, and out came drink number two. Nowhere close to the female-favourite Cosmo or Singapore Sling, but definitely sweet (read: girly) enough to sip through a straw. (PS- there’s is a nearby elevator that beams you up to one of the sexiest, scenic rooftops in the city.)
Happy Hour (a.k.a. the 5-a-7) at VAUVERT inside the swank Hotel St-Paul draws a lot of young suits and sexy-taries from the surrounding office buildings who come here to bitch about their bosses at the long window-lit bar that is artfully balanced by dripping black paint and Tinkerbell lights suspended from the ceiling. Some settle in and stay for dinner, this being a supperclub – an ideal situation if you like your dinner music coming from an electro DJ. Hakim, our bartender, has worked all over, including the private parties for Montreal hot shot Guy Laliberté (Cirque du Soleil founder/owner/gajillionaire), and therefore knows the delicacy of a Champagne mixer. He muddled for us some Grey Goose La Poire and lemon, topped it up with bubbly, and tossed in a few basil leaves. At the time the drink still had no name; Hakim was thinking of calling it Garden Party, but Sophie and I decided to baptize it the HICKEY. Why? Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.
By the time I navigated my five-inch heels to PHILEMON on St-Paul Street, there was a line-up! Luckily I caught my friend Daniel Notkin, oyster king about town, who was in the midst of a delivery. He made the necessary calls to let us skip the line. Inside—it’s worth the queue, believe me—our bartender Lucas served us each a Tequila Old Fashioned: tequila, agave syrup, bitters, and lime zest. Said the cutie (girls, he’s a looker), “I thought of making a typical girly drink, but I thought this would be way more interesting.” Not sure if it was my current state of mind, the bitters, or the high school tequila flashback, but it hit me like a ton of bricks. That’s a good thing, although five minutes later I was suddenly regretting my choice in footwear.
I’d organized the evening of gallivanting to end at Baldwin Barmacie in my own ‘hood. That way, I could just walk home. At my home-away-from-home (only with nicer furniture), I buddied up to big bro bartender Filippo who always looks Old School spiffy in his black vest and white shirt. Sophie has friends who work at Baldwin’s, too, so it was like one big family hangout. The final drink of the night was a Bourbon Punch, a tangy blend of cranberry juice with a shot of bourbon – hello! – and a sprig of fresh mint. Delicious—with a zing! But now I think I know where the word “punch” comes from. Yep, five cocktails can hit you hard. (Truthfully, I’m not counting all the little drinks in between. This I learned from Sophie: Ask—flutter your eyelashes—and you shall receive). Let’s just say, the last word I managed to mumble that night was “Taxi!”
Pullman , 3424 Parc, (514) 288-7779
Suite 701 Lounge, 701 côte de la Place d’Armes, (514) 904-1201
Vauvert, 355 McGill, (514) 876-2823
Philemon, 111 St-Paul West, (514) 289-3777
Baldwin Barmacie, 115 Laurier West, (514) 276-4282