Montreal Drinks: Explore the City's Late-Night Gems

In reaction to complaints that the crowds streaming out of Montréal’s bars and nightclubs at about 4 a.m. could get too rowdy, the mayor proposed pushing “dernier appel” (last call) up to 6 in the morning – a liberal solution, indeed. His plan was quashed by the provincial liquor authority, but it goes to show just how enthusiastic Montréalers are about their legendary late night scene.

Whisky Café
With over 150 whiskies gracing the back bar of the gorgeous Whisky Café, it’s no wonder this late-night haunt has won international nightlife awards. Although the cigar lounge feels more like a private member’s club, the Whisky Café, itself is elegant, nicely-appointed, yet approachable. With its duck-heavy snack menu, interesting happy-hour specials, and absolutely first-rate wine and food pairings, it’s popular with a range of patrons, not just the bachelor parties that you might expect. Open late Thursday through Saturday; a little earlier the rest of the week.   


5800 Boulevard St-Laurent, 514-278-2646

Club Unity
Don’t go to this multi-level Montréal institution too early since the party doesn’t really get revved up until at least after 11, when people start pouring in to see the late-night drag shows. Dubbed one of the Gay Village’s most friendly clubs, Unity is chock full of welcoming patrons and staff members who just want to keep the party going. Selling points include the cheap cover, pop music, flavoured shots, and free candy given out by strangers (not a metaphor, actual candy) to keep you wanting to pry your way onto the packed dance floor.


1171 Rue Sainte-Catherine E, 514-523-2777

In a city with an open love affair for all things Latin, there is no shortage of great salsa clubs. But, Montréal’s oldest, Salsatheque is still a popular standout. With palm trees, disco balls, and loud music the vibe is hot, hot, hot, something most patrons cope with by quaffing back tropical drinks – often on special if you get there early enough. By late night, the joint is jammed with seasoned dancers and novices alike, the latter often taking advantage of dance lessons both formal and informal. Some nights feature big bands that play merengue and bachata; others are hosted by Latin deejays who know how to keep the rhythm alive.


1220 Rue Peel, 514-875-0016 

Big in Japan
As with all good speakeasies, it’s pretty easy to miss the good times on the other side of the inauspicious red door at St. Laurent and Rachel in the Plateau. But try not to miss this late-night hidden gem since it’s home to some of the city’s best cocktails and possibly the best Japanese whisky selection in the country, all served up in a smart, candlelit lounge. Food isn’t the focus here but some small plates are available. Late at night, small parties of in the know cocktail enthusiasts bask in the dim light enjoying laid-back instrumental music ‘til the wee hours.


4175 Boulevard St-Laurent, 438-380-5658

Baldwin Barmacie
This bright, modern bar is set up in a former pharmacy (hence the name) and carries its apothecary theme over to the drinks list and decor. Looking for a prescription for what ails you? They’ve got a section on the menu for that. Packed with Mile End young professionals who appreciate the chic, stark atmosphere and the helpful medical advice, this bar can be a real scene. It’s also the perfect place to sneak in a late-night last call and savour a Dark ‘n Stormy made with house-made ginger beer alongside an oozing, potentially life-saving grilled cheese.  


115 Avenue Laurier Ouest, 514-276-4282

Published Saturday, August 1st 2015

Header image credit: Courtesy Whisky Café



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