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Le Royal
Photograph: Le Royal / barleroyal.ca

The best speakeasies and secret bars hidden in Montreal right now

The best speakeasy and secret bars hidden in Montreal are the best at serving superb drinks in covert settings.

Written by
JP Karwacki
&
Amie Watson
Contributor
Tommy Dion
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UPDATE, August 2021: With their tight corners and intimate vibes, the best speakesy and secret bars in Montreal hidden from view have had a bit of trouble meeting social distancing measures in the city. That means that several have yet to reopen until more favourable conditions come about, so we've taken stock of the ones open and available right now.

There’s nothing like the thrill of discovering hidden addresses of the city’s best speakeasy and secret bars. Knowing which unmarked door leads you to award-winning mixologists and incomparably cool settings is unlike anything else in the city. We're talking hideaways that act as the best cocktail bars in Montreal with murder mystery-themed evenings and classy vibes to try on for size before going to a romantic restaurant or making an adventure of it as you explore the full range of nightlife in Montreal.  

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in Montreal

Where to find the best speakeasy and secret bars in Montreal

Pointe-Saint-Charles’ first speakeasy is a psychedelic clash of concepts. Behind a leopard skin door connected to the Fugazzi pizza restaurant, walk up the stairs between a rainbow of neon-lit walls and stroll into a jungle-tiki cocktail bar where drinks come in disco ball glasses, Easter Island Moai statues and shiny flamingos. With its connection to the pizza restaurant, it doubles a great place to snack as well. There are no reservations except for groups, so come early or expect a wait.

A prime date destination, this bar brings romance to cocktail descriptions with seasonal specialties. Most recently that included the effervescent “Fall’s Mist” made with artisanal gin, aged grappa and sherry; spins on classics like a Bottled Negroni with Barolo Chinato; or a $58 sidecar for big spenders. To find the bar, look for the duck below the exit sign next to El Pequeño Bar, and enter a world where the bartender rules. Seriously, that’s #1 on the official house rules. There are several more where that came from, but each rule leads to a single purpose: Keeping it classy.

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The retrofitted diner Foiegwa turned a lot of heads when it opened its doors in Saint-Henri, but the real line-ups are found in the alleyway behind it. Pass through the steel door at the end of the passageway to find this French disco-themed bar with one of the most spectacular liquor selections in town, all of which is doubly impressive when tasting the cocktails that Christophe Beaudoin Vallières makes with them. No style or presentation is too wild here to try out—that is, if you can grab a seat.

This classy subterranean spot upped the Plateau’s cocktail game when it opened in 2017. Located below reputed wine bar Le Rouge Gorge, it’s a 65-seat secret designed by Montreal’s own Zébulon Perron, the brains behind innumerable beautifully designed projects in the city. With an oysters/spritz and ceviche/margarita happy hour special until 9 p.m., DJs from Thursdays to Saturdays and bartenders willing to go off the script of the menu, it makes for a perfect date or late night party destination. Above all, head cocktail creator Manu Ruiz is among the city's current masters.

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If you don’t want to spend time walking up and down Saint Denis Street in search of this cocktail bar, go to the 4e Mur website first and fill in the contact form to be emailed the location. The Google Maps address will lead you astray, as will the clues of the murder mystery which thematically frames the cocktail program here. Come with a crowd, since each of six drinks that shift monthly gets you a clue, all of them gradual steps closer to solving the puzzle and winning more drinks.

With a couple of romantic nooks, some tables and a few coveted stools numbering in at a total of 25 seats, this bar is one of Montreal’s most intimate cocktail speakeasies. Tell the bartender what you like in terms of flavours and let them make something to order, carving an appropriately sized cube of ice to match. Don’t like what they made? No problem, they’ll try again. If only it were so easy at the adjacent barbershop and bespoke.

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The Asian speakeasy below Vietnamese restaurant Hà in Old Montreal is no joke: Drinks come in shells, buddhas and coupes as classics are reinvented à la tiki, like the Pandan Sour and the Dji, a riff on an Old Fashioned with tequila, mezcal, pineapple, hazelnut bitters and chanterelle mushrooms. The dancing to deep house starts around 11 p.m., so come early or reserve if you want a seat. Otherwise, join the crowd trying not to spill their buddhas-for-two.

If you're looking for a place that's cozy, intimate, and a little sexy, this is the one. Sporting a look that's similar to a grotto in the Playboy Mansion, a trip to Henden's downstairs hangout below the fried chicken and champagne restaurant Bird Bar in Griffintown has just about everything you need to help you unplug from the day to day. Bubbles, caviar and blinis help start the evening just as well as the cocktail menu, but the homemade pogos and oysters ain't too shabby either. 

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The only real clue for the entryway is a neon sign pointing downward to take a dive: Club Pelicano has got to be one of the only places in the world where it's possible to spend a full evening in a pool. It's through table-like diving boards, "No Diving" warnings and lifesaver decorations that you'll settle into a pool corridor and wade through your cocktails. We also enjoy the delicious Nikkkei-style cuisine of its nieghbour/associate Tiradito. A ceviche-pisco pairing is just as good at 5 p.m. as it is at 10 p.m., after all.

King Crab
Photograph: King Crab / restaurantmakro.ca

10. King Crab

If you can't find the entrance to King Crab's hidden bar, know that all you need to do is try asking someone working at the Makro seafood restaurant. They'll point a thumb over their shoulder to the cobbled alleyway next door, and you'll head down through a mirrored hallway to a place where evenings never seem to end. The place is dark, chic and elegant, with the added bonus of a wood-fired oven that churns out some pretty decent pizza to go with your popped bottles and signature cocktails.

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Fashioned as a 1930s Prohibition-style restaurant and bar that's found through a door at the back of a sandwich shop in Old Montreal and inspired by institutions in New York City, Le Speakeasy MTL's name may not inspire a whole lot of mystery, but it's got all the right trappings of a speakeasy: Good vibes, drink flowing, popped oysters, and constantly and endearingly convivial. The cocktails—epseically when they're set on fire—deserve a lot of attention, but don't skip on the menu either when you visit.

At its most active, Soubois is an active nightclub in the heart of downtown Montreal, but you can pay a visit to its bar-within-a-bar speakeasy-style bar L'Orangerie for calmer vibes. Things can still get as wild in here as they can during a cabaret or on the dancefloor here, but the bonus is being able to spend time with the bartender to watch their head-turning mixology at play instead of seeing bottle service with sparklers cross the main room.

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Tucked away out of view on Rachel East in the Plateau in a way that keeps things dicreet, A Bar has a small terrasse and indoor space engenders calm and collected vibes earlier in the evening while—occasionally—getting a little more raucous later at night. Super casual and personable with a BYOF policy (bring your own food), it's just the kind of place you want when you're looking to escape and rub shoulders with (other) locals.

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