A new trend in Montreal’s bar scene takes you back to the 1920s Prohibition era with hidden venues, entertainment, and fully stocked bars. Prohibition era in Montreal was a spirited time when nightlife, including cabaret and burlesque, flourished. Unlike the rest of North America, liquor wasn’t banned in Québec and consequently, Montreal became a hotspot, drawing some of the best entertainers of the time to the city. Vestiges of this rich history remain and in the past few years a new trend towards “speakeasy” style bars has emerged, giving rise to a whole new nightlife scene that should not be missed.
Big in Japan Bar
Hidden on St-Laurent boulevard behind an unmarked door and down a small alley, Big in Japan is a Japanese-style whiskey bar that sweeps you back in time. Hundreds of flickering tea lights, soft jazz, and an Asian-inspired cocktail menu contribute to an intimate environment with the rich, classy, vibes of a bygone era.
Where: 4175 St Laurent Blvd
The Coldroom is a true speakeasy. First you must find the unmarked door on the corner of St. Vincent and St. Amable in Old Montreal. Ring the buzzer beside it and wait for a waiter to come get you. As you’re ushered down an unremarkable set of warehouse-style stairs to the building’s basement, you might begin to hear lively sounds of the hidden bar. Step inside and you’re transported back in time to a rowdy Prohibition-style watering hole. A fully stocked bar, high tables, brick walls, candlelight flickering off of mirrors and glassware, and a lively drinking crowd, allow you to drop back in time for several enjoyable hours.
Where: Corner of St. Vincent and St. Amable
Le 4e Mur
On rue St-Denis, in the Latin Quarter, the exact location of 4e Mur is a well-kept secret, but if you email the bar, they’ll give you the instructions you need (hint: you have to find the hidden brick that opens the door). This clandestine hotspot has early 20th century glamour, live music, and a impeccable cocktail list that features many twists on old classics.
This 25-seat cocktail bar is hidden in a men’s barbershop in the heart of downtown. With an award-winning bartender/bar manager, this is the place for true cocktail lovers. There is no menu and each drink is an individual creation—simply tell the bartender which alcohol and ingredients are to your taste and let him prepare a drink you’re sure to love. Served with a fresh squeezed chaser and hand chiseled ice.
Where: 2175 rue de la Montagne
Montreal’s Great Gatsby themed bar in Old Montreal takes you back to the roaring twenties with it’s rich decor, burlesque shows, and themed drinking rooms. The two mezzanines house a whiskey parlour and a champagne parlour, while the gin bar is located on the main floor. There’s also a full food menu with options from small bites to a full meal. Around 11pm, the tables are pushed back and the main area becomes a hopping dance floor with DJs spinning modern pop and dance hits.
Where: 390 St Jacques St. W.