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8 Must-Visit Montreal Bars

Montreal is well known for having a vibrant, exciting and eclectic nightlife. Whatever you are into, you can find it in this, quite possibly the most sophisticated, Canadian city. Here are eight bars worth getting off the tourist track for, and imbibing in.

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1. Baldwin Barmacie

This bar’s cool retro drug store décor is an homage to the pharmacy that the owner’s grandparents used to run (called Baldwins) nearby. Hipster waiters wear old fashioned aprons over white shirts with the sleeves rolled up and vests, and serve old fashioned cocktails that are just divine. This has to be one of the most beautifully presented bars in the city, and a very chic place to hang out for an evening. 115 Laurier Ouest, 514-276-4282

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2. Bílý Kůń

This dark and atmospheric bar is very popular with Montreal’s young creative types, and the walls are hung with original artworks, and rows of taxidermic ostrich heads. If you get there after 11 p.m., you’ll be unlikely to get a table and the music is too loud for conversation, but this is a very fun bar for those in the mood to party. (Bílý Kůń is Czeck for Cheval Blanc – which translates to White Horse – the name of another popular local bar owned by the same people.) 354 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est, 514-845-5392

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3. Plan B

This bar was opened to deal with the overflow from the very popular Bílý Kůń, but soon evolved into having a personality of it’s own and attracted a slightly older (but still hip) crowd. Bar Plan B is bright, airy and pleasant – a great place to go if you are meeting with friends to talk. There is also a covered and heated terrace out back, which is very popular with smokers. 327 Avenue du Mont-Royal E, 514-845-6060

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4. Baracca

This rum and tapas bar has more than 50 different varieties of rum (from pretty much every place in the world where rum is produced) and a very tasty tapas menu. The mojitos are fabulous, and deadly, and the bar has a friendly neighbourhood feel. Baracca is very popular with the Mediterranean population of Montreal, and has a fun, international vibe. 1134 Avenue du Mont-Royal Est, 514-525-7741

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5. Lab

For people that are serious about their cocktails, it doesn’t get much better than this. Mixologist Fabien Maillard opened this bar two years ago and says that he takes the cocktail culture, “very seriously.” This bar is a little away from everything else, but worthwhile if you want a drink that takes you aback in how delicious it is. The prescriptions are drinks specials centred around one ingredient (when I went it was fresh kiwi juice) and are a work of art in a glass. 1351 Rue Rachel Est, Montreal – 514-544-1333

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6. Dominion Square Tavern

Located in Montreal’s business district, this gorgeously lit and decorated vintage styled tavern is empty on weekends but packed during lunchtimes and after work (so packed that you may have difficulty getting a table). There are daily food specials and a popular happy hour Monday through Thursday. 1243 Rue Metcalfe, 514-564-5056

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7. L’Île Noire Pub

Although the L’Ile Noire is located in a very touristy street, it is very much a locals bar. It used to be located a few blocks away, but moved successfully a few years back and managed to get its regulars to come with it. This is as close to a traditional British pub as you’ll get in Montreal, and it has a fine whisky list. It isn’t loud, or posh, but it is a good place to sit and be the only English speaker in the room. 1649 Rue St-Denis Montreal, 514-982-0866 (Photo courtesy of Marco Campanozzi)

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8. Quai de Brumes

This bar has been a Montreal institution for the past quarter of a century. Named after a movie by the iconic French-Swiss director Marcel Carné, this has long been a haunt of the French Canadian literary set and is mentioned in many novels. There were a few years when the bar was ditched and fell into disrepair, but it has become popular again and is a great place to see a local band and sip on a pint. 4481 Rue Saint-Denis, 514-499-0467