Montréal is a city that likes to party.
Even in the dead of winter, we have events like Igloofest where revellers congregate around ice bars and DJs bundled in parkas pump out night beats. We always want to go out, and are drawn to spectacles, music or liquor. Whether it is in the dead of winter or a beautiful summer day, Montréalers love their cinq à sept (5 to 7, or “happy hour”), and fill watering holes that the city offers: bars, pubs, breweries, and wine bars. And of course, the city loves clubs — both music clubs and strip clubs, but this bachelor/bachelorette party series has only music clubs to recommend. (A little bit of background on the city’s strip clubs can be found in the first post of this series found here.)
First: Some tips for bar-hopping or clubbing in Montréal
1. Legal drinking age is 18 years old.
2. Bars and clubs in the city close by 3 am.
3. Last call is typically around 2:30 am.
4. There are a few after-hours clubs in the city that run from around 2 am to 10 am (more on that below).
5. Ordering bottle service for your table may make sense if you are a relatively large group. With the right number of group members and by ordering bottle service, you may also not be charged cover. Call the club or bar ahead for pricing and details, and be prepared to show up a bit early for a club night to secure your table.
6. Check music listings in websites such as Nightlife.ca (mainly in French) and Montreal-Nightclubs.com (English) to see see if your favourite DJs and musical acts are in town, and other club events in the city.
7. Clubs are mainly found around Crescent street (downtown) or Saint Laurent street (Plateau).
8. Bars are found mainly around Crescent, Saint Laurent, Saint Denis Street (Plateau), and the Old Port.
9. For LGBT bars and clubs, hit the Village located on Saint Catherine street between St. Denis and Papineau.
10. Make sure you check the dress codes for each venue and if in doubt, no running shoes and wear clean, tailored clothing to secure your way in.
So with these tips in mind, here are some of the bars and clubs recommended by flashbracket for bachelor and bachelorette party planning.
Do you like thumping music and dancing amongst crowded, drunken revellers? Do you want to hit on club patrons, or want to get hit on? Do your pre-wedded friend and their friends want the same? Well, this only means you need to hit a club, and good thing this city has a lot to choose from. If you want to try one of the most popular clubs in Montréal, Le Rouge Bar located off of Saint Laurent street, will probably fit your bill. You can order bottle service for you gang, reserve a booth on one of the two floors, and get sandwiched by sweaty men and ladies in their 20’s and 30’s on the dance floor. Dress code is in effect.
Want to go somewhere a bit more tacky, but in a good way? Candi Bar, also located in the Plateau but at the north east end of the neighbourhood, is candy themed as expected with appropriate decor and drinks (gummy bear drinks anyone?). The space is a lot smaller than Rouge but the club is an experience, especially if you are a visitor to the city. Expect the same kind of Top 40’s music like Rouge and same age group, and perhaps a bit more French as Montréal becomes more francophone the more east you go on the island. You will also need to dress up for Candi Bar.
If your group is less about hitting clubs blasting Top 40 hits and dress code requirements, you will love Blue Dog Motel located on the Saint Laurent street strip in the Plateau. The scene is grimy-but-cool with notable DJs at the helm for the young, perhaps hipster, crowd. Do not expect bottle service at a casual club like this, but expect to start dancing to the latest hip hop and electro mixes blasting through the night.
The Old Port is a beautiful place to visit, and the bars and restaurants here have a classier, if a bit more expensive, feel. The roads are cobblestone, horse-drawn carriages tow tourists through the side streets, and old buildings are renovated into beautiful and modern interiors. For a place that is more relaxed than a club, Suite 701 at the Le Place d’Armes Hotel invites bar hoppers in their 20’s and up. The interior is classy, the music is trendy, and the food is decent. I would say Suite 701 is a mix of stylish and fancy, akin to other bars and restaurants in the Old Port. Dress like you belong there.
Baldwin Barmacie is on Laurier Avenue in the Mile End in the location of an old pharmacy back in the day. However, any remnants of a staid interior has disappeared and you will find instead a hip, party-loving crowd in the ages of 20’s to 40’s. A bouncer fronts the door, music is loud, space is tight, and the bar seems almost like a club minus the dancing. Make sure you leave your running shoes and casual T-shirts at home as this bar is stylish, if a bit flashy at times, and you need to dress the part.
Le Lab is located off the main roads on Rachel in the Plateau, just at the top of Parc Lafontaine. This cocktails bar is not as hip as Baldwin Barmacie, but they are serious about their mixed drinks and you will find an impressive array of cocktails to choose from. Prices can be steep — many drinks are around the $14 range, and can be expensive as $28 for the Zombie — but for the mixed drink connoisseur, this place is a must.
La Distillerie is younger than the predecessors, but the cocktails list is impressive and I am sometimes willing to put up with this loud, brash atmosphere because I love the drinks. The menu is large and graphic, and new drinks are often introduced each season, with fun names such as “Manly Muppet” for past drink concoctions. A bouncer mans the front, but no dress code is in effect. Patrons tend to be in their 20’s or younger, finding a large table may be a challenge, and expect very long line ups during the weekends. Both locations — one in the Latin Quarter, the other in the Plateau — are always busy.
Montréal loves wine — French Canadians, like the French, love wine. So you will find a few decent wine bars in the city, including my favourite, Buvette Chez Simone. This wine bar bears a non-descriptive front with a small patio in the summer, and a long interior sitting bar inside. The crowd is chic, in their 20’s and 30’s, cradling their wines while noshing on the array of excellent tapas that the bar offers. Be prepared for long line ups on a weekend night for table.
Pullman is another wine bar that is closer to downtown, located at Parc and Sherbrooke. The snazzy bar has a very modern interior, dim lights, and like Buvette Chez Simone, serves small plates with your glasses of wine. The crowd is a little less funky than the previous option, but the flirtatious scene is just as strong.
Philemon, in the Old Port, is a stylish, but unpretentious bar, with DJs helming out electronic tunes and patrons surrounding the horseshoe-shaped bar. The crowd here is mid-20’s and up, service is pretty decent, and everyone is giving each other googly eyes across the bar. Dress well so a pair of googly eyes land on you.
My first option for a chic brewery is Reservoir, located on Duluth street in the Plateau. This brewpub is larger than Dieu du Ciel (option number two, below) with a second floor and open terrace in the summer, and offers small plates like many wine bars in the city. The crowd is 20-something and up, and quite hip. If you arrive late on a weekend evening, be prepared to wait long hours for a table or be turned away.
If you have a smaller group, say six people or less, I would recommend you head over to Dieu du Ciel (“God of the Sky”) in the Mile End. The brewpub is located off of Saint Laurent street on Laurier, and the space is rather small that cannot accommodate large tables. Also, this place is super popular so it is best to come early and grab a table when you can, though a few tables are set up on the terrace in the summer. Dieu du Ciel is super serious about its brews and serves various exclusive concoctions with specials rotating regularly.
The Three Brewers landed in Toronto and elsewhere about a year ago, but for Montréal it has always been a city-based chain originally named Les Trois Brasseurs (it sounds so much better in its original French name). Even though this is an ubiquitous chain around the island, for visitors it is an alright place to land in, especially for large groups and if all other options fail. Their beers are brewed at each location, and you can order various meals and snacks with your pint. Prices are decent ($11 to $15 per burger combo) and outlets dot all around the city, so Les Trois Brasseurs may be a convenient and decent, if generic, pick.
Two decent pubs located downtown are located on Bishop street: McKibbin’s and The Irish Embassy. McKibbin’s Irish Pub’s original location is downtown, but it does have a second location on Saint Laurent street in the Plateau, and a third location in the West Island (which is far from the natural habitat of tourists). The food is nothing too special unless you are a lover of Guinness, and in that case you have four Guinness-based food choices: Irish Onion Soup, Guinness Beef Nachos, Guinness Wings, and Guinness Burgers ($7 to $19). Pubs, being pubs, can include a wider age range so be prepared to see anyone from university kids to those forty and up. Also keep in mind that pubs usually have more male patrons than female, so it is perfect for ladies who want attention from heterosexual males, and otherwise a bro-connecting spot for men.
The Irish Embassy is also like McKibbin’s with a location on Bishop in downtown Montréal, but this pub also have musical acts on selected nights as well as a nice patio, great for people watching. Food items and prices are similar to McKibbin’s, as well as its demographic — more men than women, and a wide range of ages.
For a pick off the beaten road, try The Burgundy Lion, located in St. Henri. The public house is located west of downtown but is very accessible by metro by taking the Green Line to Lionel-Groulx. The Burgundy Lion is very British, serving twelve draft beers in addition to wine and cocktails, and includes an excellent food menu that makes the commute out of downtown worthwhile.
FOR THE DISTINGUISHED PARTY GROUP
If the above listings seem too young for you and your group, there are some options for the more distinguished set. Ristorante Cavalli, located downtown, is a restaurant and bar for the business type, with correspondingly steep prices and a nice, sidewalk terrace to flash your expensive garbs. Bradley Cooper has been spotted here during Grand Prix weekend (the snitch? My old boss!), and this is where Québec minister, Maxime Bernier, met his highly controversial, and gang-related ex-girlfriend Julie Couillard. Hence, the venue is high on pretentiousness, but you may not care when you are surrounded by beautiful and rich people. If you plan on going, dress the part.
For a place more clubby, Newtown on Crescent street attracts both the young partygoers and the more mature business crowd. The restaurant and club is owned by Formula F1 racer and Québecois hero, Jacques Villeneuve, with the name “Newtown” being a literal translation of his last name. The food may be nothing to crow about and the prices are steep, but the terrace is beautiful and the interior spacious for breaking out the dance moves. Dressing well is mandatory.
AFTER HOURS CLUBS
Are you still wired at 3 am and need a place to party? Head over to Montréal’s after hours night clubs, the two noteworthy picks located in close proximity on Saint Catherine street. Stereo and Circus are located in the Village, and while there are many sweaty, shirtless men dancing to trance and techno at these clubs, the clubs include various demographics — young, old, English, French, gay, straight, men, women. However, expect to pay a handsome fee to get in ($20 to $30 cover fees), and the sun to be up by the time you stumble back to your hotel.
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Other posts on bachelor and bachelorette party planning: City events, fast food choices, brunch spots, and more.
Published Posts in the Series:
The Montréal Bachelor(ette) Party Planning: Introduction and Hotels
The Montréal Bachelor(ette) Party Planning Guide: Restaurants, Part One
The Montréal Bachelor(ette) Party Planning Guide: Restaurants, Part Two
The Montréal Bachelor(ette) Party Planning Guide: Activities