Montreal’s Hidden Bars: Our suggestions to discover
Montreal is full of great bars! But they are not all as equally visible as others. Many bars have chosen to be discreet and to play hide and seek with their customers. Of course, many of them have fallen victim to their popularity as the word has spread among fans of hushed ambience and delicious cocktails.
Hidden bars are not new. In fact, they appeared, for the most part, during prohibition in the United States. For about 13 years, the transportation, sale and manufacture of alcohol was totally illegal. Of course, human nature could not do without, so some clever people managed to circumvent the system and sell alcohol anyway. This was not done legally of course, which is why these places were very discreet. They were called “speakeasies” or “bling pigs”, and most of them disappeared when prohibition ended. Nowadays, these terms are mostly used to designate backstreet bars, with a subdued atmosphere and, very often, offering excellent cocktails. Speaking of which, here is our list of the best cocktails in Montreal.
The hidden bar addresses on this list are intriguing for their mysterious character, as well as being appealing to both curious locals and tourists visiting the city. We love these spots for their cozy charm, which serve to help us get through our endless winters as well as celebrate late in the summer!
Here is the list of our favourite hidden bars in Montreal (if you can find them…):
(Back on March 2). Gokudo is a great new Japanese cocktail bar downtown, run by the same owners as Escondite, Habanera, Biiru and Koa Lua. The entry is indicated by a simple Chinese lantern and a facade of thin strips of wood. Once inside, we enter the small restaurant section which is called Ryōshi. It is only when we pass the black curtain in the middle of the small restaurant that we enter the Japanese cocktail bar Gokudo. To drink, there are delectable Japanese cocktails as well as a nice selection of sake. To eat, the bar offers small Japanese snacks. A unique place to have a drink in downtown Montreal! Photo Alison Slattery
Big in Japan Bar
From the outside, there are no clues to help you guess what’s behind the small red door on St-Laurent Boulevard. What it is, however, is one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful bars in Montreal. Opened a few years ago, Big in Japan bar is still the talk of the town and continues to be an address that impresses with every visit. With a stunning decor by Cabinet Braun-Braën, Big in Japan transports you with its utterly unique atmosphere; with its long labyrinthine bar, its bottles hanging from the ceiling and its hundreds of small candles, the place is timeless, intimate and original. We love it. Big in Japan is open every day from 5pm. Photo Dominique Lafond
Cloakroom bar is a chic and cozy speakeasy in the heart of downtown Montreal. Inside the stylish Maison Cloakroom clothing store is a wooden door that opens onto a corridor leading to one of Montreal’s most beautiful hidden bars. The “speakeasy” aspect of the bar gives it a mysterious and romantic feel that we really appreciate, in addition to the simple elegance of the space. We come here to try new cocktails and appreciate the know-how of the trained bartenders. The Cloakroom bar opens at 3pm from Monday to Saturday and is ideal for happy hour or an evening with a velvety atmosphere. Photo Tastet
Atwater Cocktail Club
The Atwater Cocktail Club (behind the restaurant Foiegwa), is another of the most beautiful hidden bars in Montreal. The original decor is designed by Gaulay Brothers: fuchsia pink banquettes, wooden floors, subdued lighting and a mirrored ceiling. All of these elements combine to make this bar a chic and unique place to have a drink out in the city. Speaking of drinks, the Atwater Cocktail Club offers a choice of a dozen exquisite cocktails by Christophe Beaudoin. Note that you can order items from the Foiegwa menu in the bar: tartares, burgers and other classics are available. The bar is now part of our list of the best places to eat in Montreal. Photo Atwater Cocktail Club
The Henden Bar is the hidden gem of the Birdbar. Whether you want to have a drink before your meal, a cocktail with a bite to eat, or for a nightcap, this Griffintown bar welcomes you with its impressive and surprising decor. This is a beautiful, unique and cozy hidden bar, reminiscent of the Playboy Mansion of the 1970s, with a mysterious and Moroccan touch. To drink, they offer the same wine selection and numerous champagnes from the Birdbar. The bar menu is in the same vein as the Birdbar, but revisited. It was designed for the space: easy to eat with your hands and pairs well with cocktails. Photo Alison Slattery
Le Mal Nécessaire
The Mal Nécessaire is the first bar to open in Montreal’s Chinatown! Considered a “Tiki-bar”, the bar is reminiscent of that hot intertropical zone. With a simple sign of the famous green pineapple in neon, you have to go down the stairs on St-Laurent Boulevard to get to this small and friendly bar. One could be in a hotel in Mexico or elsewhere: the decor is original and the space welcoming. One comes here for a good beer, impressive cocktails or for the establishment’s Drunken Masters competitions. Enjoy the experience after a Cantonese meal upstairs at the Fung Shing. Photo Le Mal Nécéssaire
(Temporarily closed). Flyjin is more of a nightclub than a bar, and it’s a Montreal supperclub that we love. Open for a few years now, the mythical place of the A5 Management group offers you unforgettable evenings and festivities. At Flyjin, we eat a menu developed by the renowned chef Antonio Park and executed by the bar’s kitchen. Around 11pm, the space is completely transformed into a club, and this basement in Old Montreal becomes a new space where people party until the wee hours of the morning. Open from Wednesday to Saturday, Flyjin is a must-visit supperclub that has won over many hearts over the years. Photo Flyjin
The Soubois is located in a favourite spot on Maisonneuve Street, where the Peel Pub and the Copacabana kept the party going for 15 years in succession. When you arrive in front of the door to the Soubois, you have no idea that you are entering an enchanted forest that is known far beyond Montreal. You walk down the steps to the reception area of this “forest”, then you are transported into a breathtaking decor designed by Alexandre Brosseau of the Speakeasy agency. The evenings here are very festive and the music is for dancing. Note also that behind the simple library of the living room and the first house hides one of the most beautiful Speakeasies of Montreal, called the Orangerie du Soubois. Photo Soubois
The King Crab is the hidden bar of Makro, the seafood restaurant owned by Grinder. Like Makro, the King Crab is really pretty. The talented Gauley Brothers designed the space. Carpeted walls, a “selfie” corner, mirrors, glittery banquettes, marble tables; this 75-seat space has an air of The Factory. The space is intimate, chic and elegant; the aesthetics of the bar is very successful, and this address is now part of our list of the most beautiful bars in Montreal. Photo Makro
Located in the basement of the Tiradito in the heart of the business district, Club Pelicano is a cocktail and natural wine bar that breathes summer. Inspired by the Piscine Molitor, the bar takes us on a summer journey to Europe. Thanks to the many references to public baths, we spend a lively evening sipping a drink by the pool, and you won’t be able to say no to the small Mediterranean bites offered on the bar menu. Photo Club Pelicano
Located on the second floor of the excellent Fugazzi, the Milky Way bar invites its customers to continue their evening in an atmosphere out of the ordinary. A cosmic-inspired staircase leads to this space-themed bar. The Milky Way’s appearance, by Gauley Brothers, is all about extravagant elegance, highlighted by lighting in mesmerizing colours. To top it all off, some of Montreal’s best cocktails are sipped here. Photo Elizabeth Gartside
Fleurs & Cadeaux
Located in the basement of this Japanese snack bar is Sans Soleil, a speakeasy that is sure to delight lovers of sake and vinyl! The well-hidden entrance is located in the adjacent parking lot. Inside, a subdued atmosphere with huge speakers and an elaborate cocktail list await you, ensuring a memorable evening.
Nhau Bar invites you to discover their signature cocktails in a space that evokes travel. Located on the other side of the big golden door of Hà in Old Montreal, this hidden bar offers a unique atmosphere, both warm and lively. The ceiling is dotted with hanging lanterns to give it a more intimate look. Although you head to Nhau Bar mainly for their cocktails, they also offer a snack menu in accompaniment. It’s the perfect place to sip a few drinks and feel like you’ve escaped for an evening!