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Best Nightlife in Montréal

Montreal's Hottest Nightlife: Stepping Out in Montreal



The well-known Montreal music scene entails more than just the music of her famous ones such as Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion, Corey Hart, Arcade Fire and A Simple Plan. The contemporary scene includes more than 300 local bands that often get their start in Montreal then show up later in Toronto and New York. 

Montreal offers a wide range of good dance clubs and bars. Here you will find our favorite Montreal venues. For an authen­tic Mon­tréal bar expe­ri­ence com­plete with good, local music, search out the hole-in-the-wall places with old wooden floors and tin ceil­ings. Some of these more intriguing locales that exude that "Joie de vivre" are found on the French side of town, roughly St. Lau­rent and points east.

Drink specials abound before 8 pm all over the city and regardless of what language you speak, bars for the most part, are laid back and friendly - if a bit loud - but that's all part of the fun. Whether you're craving a warm pub experience or an alternative dance workout, Montreal will not disappoint. The older crowd will appreciate the city's upscale but never pretentious wine and cocktail bars and various jazz clubs too. 


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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 Best Nightlife because: It's a true craft beer bar with new brews appearing regularly.

Sherel's expert tip: The popular patio seats offer a top people watching experience in a cool 'hood.

Read more about Brasserie Artesenal Dieu du Ciel! →


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

Winnies is a cozy living room-like bar - just as the original owner intended and it's part of a pub complex of two other spaces including a dance bar on the upper level called Katrina's that specializes in cocktails and DJ music. Winnies is a great spot if you're traveling alone as the other patrons are quite chatty and friendly as you would expect for a neighborhood pub, an old favorite of Montrealers including the writer, Mordecai Richler. The bar offers two for one specials from 4:30 pm until 8 pm and pitchers of cocktails are $20.00 on Wednesday evenings.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Winnies is a Montreal staple in the friendly, local pub genre.

Sherel's expert tip: Watch for the happy hour specials daily from 4:30 to 8pm. and cocktail pitcher special on Wednesday evenings.

Read more about Sir Winston Churchill Pub Complex →


Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill
Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Upstairs Bar & Grill

This intimate spot complete with candle-lit tables and vintage records adorning the walls is a favorite of jazz fans across the country who can hear seasoned pros as well as up and coming musicians. There are enough bar seat too so those traveling solo will fit right in. The excellent bistro-style food and drinks-including good wines by the glass are reasonably priced to match the cover charge, which rarely tops $12.00. It's also serves Spanish tapas dishes and good scotch. The crowd includes jazz fans from mid-college age to seniors. The staff are pleasant and helpful. The room can get a bit stuffy but an outdoor patio provides relief. You can also sit there and enjoy the music without paying cover charge especially if you arrive without reservations. The club is conveniently located near the downtown business hotels.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: The Upstairs Jazz Bar and Grill is recognized as a top jazz club in Canada for the quality of the performers.

Sherel's expert tip: Best to make reservations but the second shows are less popular than the earlier shows and sometimes the cover is waived after 11 pm.

Read more about Upstairs Jazz Bar & Grill →


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Billy Kun is the more sophisticated sister bar of Le Cheval Blanc, easily identified by the signature stuffed ostrich heads adorning the walls running the length of the barroom. It serves the same great brew as Le Cheval Blanc but the location is more accessible on Mont Royal near St. Denis around the corner from the Mont Royal Metro station. It's also a great spot to relax, drink absinthe and take in a jazz quartet. It's more popular with the 30 plus crowd of professionals and successful artists and most of the conversations seem to be in French. Its low light setting is perfect for date night although the music can get a tad loud for conversation.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Billy Kun exemplifies the sophisticated Montreal bar scene while maintaining a fun and casual atmosphere.

Sherel's expert tip: Come early and try some of the international cocktails that are hard to find elsewhere

Read more about Bily Kun →


A favorite beer-drinking spot, Le Chavel Blanc is a bit out of the way on Ontario Street in Montreal's east end and off the beaten tourist track . It's a small, casual, semi-chic upscale 50's retro kind of place with sparkling tile and intimate low lighting that's perfect for a night out talking with friends. The best beers are those that are brewed on site - particularly the smooth and rich cream ale. The prices are very reasonable for craft beer too. The crowd is mostly mixed French English but predominantly French - particularly the mostly bilingual staff and the ages range from early 20's to early senior.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Le Cheval Blanc is THE best brew pub in the city, if not the nation.

Sherel's expert tip: Try to visit on a weeknight when it is not so crowded or come earlier on weekend nights.

Read more about Le Cheval Blanc →


Foufounes (slang for electric ass) is a lively and eclectic spot at 185 east Ste. Catharine, easily recognizable by the huge spider sculpture attached to the wall of the main entrance. It has been a downtown staple since the early 1980's. Foufounes is pretty happening all year round but the patio strewn and hung with oversize metal sculptures and cartoon figures set against a graffiti covered wall define the hip urban summer patio experience. The three floor club and bar regularly features top local bands and has hosted well-known acts like Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana. The crowd is quite mixed but the vibe is always friendly and laid back.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Foufone Electrique is Montreal's top alternative spot in the heart of lively Ste. Catherine Street east.

Sherel's expert tip: Foufone Electrique translates literally to Electric Buttcheeks promising both indoor and outdoor fun

Read more about Foufounes Electriques →


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The Village

Stereo is hot on the international club scene with DJs and musicians who come for its true, old school sound system and blasting house in all it's glorious forms.The place was specially built for dancing featuring acoustic walls within walls and a dance floor on springs and shock absorbers to keep your legs and feet moving for hours. It's also a bar and after hours club. One of the best places to come and hear DJs from around the globe spin their tunes and meet up with other party people from all over Montreal who've spent the earlier hours in various other venues. The true early morning after party place.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: A reliable place for late night, early morning dance sounds every night of the week

Sherel's expert tip: Buy tickets early online

Read more about Stéréo →


Club-Soda
Photo courtesy of Photo Courtesy of Club Soda

Club Soda's medium-sized, 800-seat concert space sits in a great downtown location and is perfect for performances of all stripes from the "Just For Laughs" comedy fest to name acts from the International Jazz Festival to Burlesque shows and everything else in between. The second floor of the two storey spot offers the best views and more private seating. It's often possible, with a little elbow jostling, to get close to the band on the first floor. The space tends to be a bit on the narrow side but high ceilings allow for half-decent acoustics. The light shows are well done too.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: A popular spot to take in big name shows in a good location.

Sherel's expert tip: When possible, best to buy tickets directly through the club as seating is unreserved

Read more about Club-Soda →


If you want to meet regulars and check out the latest Montreal sounds this ultimate dive bar (in a good way) is where you want to be. But just because it's a dive doesn't mean it's cheap - cover charge can hit 10.00 and pints of beer top $6.50. Try to time your visit with your musical preferences i.e. Sunday nights are best for Bluegrass fans, while Swing junkies will want to show up on Wednesdays, but check first. Sometimes the bands start late - around 11 pm. Like many of Montreal's best spots it's a bit on the small and crowded side with a real arty, original decor.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: A real Montreal staple featuring intersting bands you may not find elsewhere.

Sherel's expert tip: Can be tricky to find as it's a small venue on the second floor on the west side of St. Laurent - look up as you approach

Read more about Barfly →


Vegetarian restaurant/coffee shop by day, happening indie music venue by night. Casa Del Popolo's (people's house), offerings vary widely from playwrights doing spoken word to a soloist on acoustic guitar to new country. It's popular with the hipster/neo-hippie set and quite laid back too. Its claim to fame is the launching spot for well-known bands other indie music and draft beer in an intimate 55-seat setting. Mixed drinks are available but best to stick with the excellent beer and good deals on scotch. The reconverted cigarette machine sells mini music cds. Be sure to check out the intimate back patio in between sets - perfect for smokers.

Recommended for Best Nightlife because: Great food and tasty draft beers to go with the indie music - a real local favorite!

Sherel's expert tip: Get here early as the small venue fills up fast depending on who is playing.

Read more about Casa del Popolo →


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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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