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Get Your Drink On in Montreal's Best Bars



Montreal bars are so relaxed that even as a solo drinker, you'll feel right at home in any of these establishments. Bar tenders are professional, chatty and filled with insights into the workings of their city. Montreal is one of the best drinking cities around. The patrons are generally convivial and the venues offer great food and drink specials and no two of them look the same. With many unadvertised specials - as per a weird provincial law -  be sure and ask especially during the  5 to 7 cocktail hour known locally as the "cinq a sept". Generally speaking, west end bars cater to an English speaking crowd while those venues east of St. Laurent, the dividing line in the city, are usually French but that shouldn't deter anyone from visiting bars on both sides of town as the emphasis here is on everyone having a good time. For a culture that usually prefers wine, there are an impressive number of quality brew pubs with the signature good food that Montreal is famous for. Most bars stay open late so the party usually doesn't get going until well after 10 pm and in some venues even midnight. With a huge array of night life choices, it's no wonder that Montreal is Canada's party town


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Sir Winston Churchill Pub Complex
Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Winnie's

This complex has been a mainstay on Crescent Street since 1967, and has helped usher in the nightlife for which the area has become famous. In addition to two outdoor terraces overlooking Crescent, there are three floors, each with its own distinct personality: the cozy Sir Winston Churchill Pub, the more upscale Winnies Bar and Restaurant, and a stylish dance club/lounge called Karina. In the pub, enjoy a pint of your favorite beer, a pitcher of sangria or a cocktail. If it's food you're after, try Winnies Bar and Restaurant, where you'll find a great selection of traditional and international fare (the same menu is offered in the pub). Finally, there's Karina, a sleek space where world class DJs keep the grooves coming into the wee hours.

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POP! bar a vin


Pop features a wonderful wine list with several organic choices, live jazz, comfy mod décor in shades of orange, green and brown that recalls the late 60s â€" what more could you ask from a wine bar? Well, Pop! Also has some cute but tasty "Poptails" and even offers olive oil tastings. Patrice Demers, formerly with the much-lauded Laloux, is the chef, which elevates the place to dining-destination status. The food menu is well balanced, creative and fun, with small-plate options like chorizo with roasted peppers and caramelized onions, sardines with greens and preserved lemon, and platters of charcuterie or cheese.

Recommended for Bars because: This chic wine bar features Danish Modern decor and high end snacks.

Sherel's expert tip: This is a great spot for wine drinkers looking for an upscale night out.

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Brasserie Artesenal Dieu du Ciel!


About a dozen craft brewed beers are on tap at any one time at Dieu du Ciel! (loosely translated as "Oh my god!"), ranging from an amber hemp beer to a hoppy IPA to a chocolaty stout to a seasonal absinthe and fennel ale. The place has a neighborhood bar atmosphere (friendly and casual) with a brewpub philosophy (lots of unique, excellent beers). The downside is that it is so popular it's not unual for patrons to grab their drinks from the bar then wait for a table to open up - come prepared to stand up during the busy late evening hours.

Recommended for Bars because: It has some of the best selection of stouts and a notable scotch ale.

Sherel's expert tip: It's popular so be prepared to grab your beer at the bar and stand around waiting for a table.

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Café Campus

Although the name suggests a student hangout, it's more than that as the club has been a solid feature in the east end neighbourhood conveniently located near other drinking establishments. This venue features great live concerts from top independent bands and performers. Depending on the night, you'll find blues music or a variety of other genres. The decor isn't elaborate, but the music more than compensates. It's a fantastic place to come with friends, nurse a beer, and enjoy the sounds of the talented performers. The club also offers great DJ-mixed dance music that's popular with locals and tourists alike.

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A three-floor brewpub with a wide fan base, Brutopia keeps five year-round beers on tap and three seasonal options. Among the year-round options are a classic IPA, a nut brown ale and a raspberry blonde; seasonal brews range from porters and stouts to Scotch ale and cream ale. The malts are sourced from within Quebec and these are recycled on local farms. Live music several nights a week, plus trivia night on Mondays and Montreal's longest running open Mike night keep folks entertained, while a lively menu of tapas and sandwiches keep bellies from grumbling including vegetarian and gourmet options.

Recommended for Bars because: There is entertainment every night at 10 pm until closing.

Sherel's expert tip: Happy hour extends all day and night every Monday.

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Le Vieux Dublin


More than a dozen beers on tap, tasty and filling pub grub and a convivial atmosphere make the Old Dublin one of Montréal's most popular hangouts. It's been around since 1978, so it obviously does something right! There's live music every night of the week, and the warm, woody atmosphere makes it easy to lose a few hours here. Along with good beer, the pub stocks a great selection of single malt scotches.If you're traveling solo, hang out at the bar to chat with the witty bartenders who know most everything about their city and are pleased to share their insights.

Recommended for Bars because: This is a great spot for the solo drinker as you'll make new friends in no time.

Sherel's expert tip: If you're looking for information on the city these bartenders are very knowledgeable.

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Irish Embassy


There's a saying that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day. It's not a stretch to add "and in an Irish pub" to that statement. At the Irish Embassy, the mood is always cheerful and the Guinness is always poured just right. Live music is scheduled Thursday-Sunday. Food is a bit more upscale than you'll find at most pubs and with a little more of a global approach, but it's satisfying and tasty in a way only pub food can be. Fun and lively, especially on weekends.In summer, try to score a seat on the outdoor garden patio for a more lay back vibe.

Recommended for Bars because: It's a popular Irish pub with a patio - which is not typical of these establishments.

Sherel's expert tip: If you want a spot on the garden patio in summer - get there before the after-work crowd.

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McKibbin's Irish Pub


Given the name, it's no wonder that McKibbin's is the perfect place for St. Patty's Day. This Irish pub, located in the Crescent nightlife sector on Bishop St., sports an an old, Victorian-style exterior. Exposed wooden beams and dim lighting inside give the place an authentic, "pubby" feel. Offering several televisions throughout the bar, enjoy watching the game while grabbing a bite to eat from their long list of pub grub, including the popular fish and chips. To wash it all down, choose from a wide selection of Canadian and European brews on tap such as Guinness (wouldn't be Irish without it), Kilkenny and Molson. If you're feeling particularly green, try a pint of the house stout or house cream ale. There is live music and karaoke throughout the week as well, so head on down for a great evening.

Recommended for Bars because: Here you'll find an authentic pub experience with live music and karaoke on week nights.

Sherel's expert tip: It's best for those who love to sing as week-night karaoke is very popular.

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This pub has been unchanged for more than half a century and brews its own beer on site. A great place to listen to the latest music and discuss art, philosophy or politics with the interesting locals. If you arrive before 7 pm you may be able to score a table on the small patio. But even in the later hours,the place is still relaxing making it perfect for those looking for a calmer drinking experience. If the very professional bartenders suspect you're not happy with your beer choice, they'll happily exchange it free of charge - talk about service and dedication to the micro brew expericnce!

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Whisky Café
Photo courtesy of JF Galipeau

Located on St-Laurent Boulevard, the Whisky Café, functions as both a bar and cigar lounge decked out with impressive columns and leather chairs.The Whisky Café carries an over-whelming choice of over 150 scotch whiskeys and dozens of ports and wines.You can do a tasting flight or order a la carte at one Montreal's best happy hours. Whisky Bar is well known as a top spot for a first date. It's also won the Top Appeal Nightlife Award from the Zagat Survey Montreal Guide. And don't leave without checking out the unique washrooms at this high end Montreal bar, particularly the waterfall urinals.

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Meet Sherel Purcell

Sherel Purcell is a travel writer who specializes in golf, Montreal and Quebec, contemporary art, cycling and food and wine. Her articles appear on USA Today's 10Best, About.com, Aol, Matador,...  More About Sherel

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