The task was simple: 5 shots in 5 Montreal bars. What could possibly go wrong?
In a city like Montreal, anything can happen. You might accidentally light your hand on fire (like I may or may not have), but you also might stumble across your favourite bar of all-time. We chose bars in 5 different neighbourhoods to showcase the diversity of Montreal’s nightlife scene and to prove that on any given Saturday night, no matter where you are in the city, somebody somewhere wants to party too.
Hurley’s Irish Pub: When I asked the Irish bartender at Hurley’s if he wouldn’t mind talking about car bombs on camera, I was relieved that he immediately agreed and understood that I meant nothing other than that famous shot made so popular by Irish pubs. The disarming Irishman kindly poured us some genuine car bombs that were dark and warming, much like this authentic Irish pub.
Le Saloon: This is a gay village hot spot where you can opt for a nice meal or simply enjoy their fully stocked bar when Le Saloon morphs into a supper club at night. We arrived around 9:30, which by Montreal standards is painfully early, but the bar was packed anyway and the staff was so professional that, in spite of the hectic atmosphere, they poured the drinks with a smile and the shots were just as sweet.
El Jumelji: This bar’s decor is as if that 13-year-old kid who talked about opening the “the best bar ever!!!” grew up and actually did it. El Jumelji is safari-themed, has jungle murals, poker nights, zebra print painted hallways and countless pool and Foosball tables. It’s no coincidence that the bar’s name is basically how a drunk person would pronounce the title of that 90’s movie starring Robin Williams where for some inexplicable reason a jungle bursts out of a board game. I’m talking about Jumanji, or Jumelji depending on how many drinks you’ve had. Regrettably we only had two.
Lab Comptoir a Cocktails: Nestled across the street from Montreal’s beautiful Parc La Fontaine, this seemingly unassuming tavern actually assumes quite a lot. For instance, the bartender assumes you know how to do a flaming shot. The only instruction he offered after pouring the flaming drinks was “don’t light your hair on fire.” I didn’t light my hair on fire. Just everything else. Aside from that, this dark and cozy bar feels like one of the city’s best kept secrets.
Sparrow: New to the scene, but associated with some of St-Laurent’s nightlife pillars, Sparrow is frequented mostly by youngish anglophone regulars donning their finest. The decor is reminiscent of a turn of the century Parisian salon, but maybe it’s just the wallpaper and ennui. Regardless, this lovely bar’s martinis are among the best in the neighbourhood and the drinks are reasonably priced and creatively paired with fresh ingredients, like their signature gin and and cucumber shot which is my personal favourite.
Hurley’s Irish Pub, 1225 Crescent St, (514) 861-4111
Le Saloon Bistro Bar, 1333 Sainte-Catherine East , (514) 522-1333
El Jumelgi, 3350 Ontario East , (514) 522-0905
Le Lab Comptoir a Cocktails, 1351 Rachel East, (514) 544-1333
Sparrow, 5322 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, (514) 690-3964
Guest Blogger: Sophie Naima Caird