A Montreal after-work tradition, the cinq à sept is meant to fill the hours between employment and dinner; of course, it’s also just an excuse to go for an early evening drink. The concept is familiar enough: “happy hour” or and “wine and cheese” mean nearly the same thing. (Although, rumour has it cinq à sept is derived from the timeframe that Frenchmen would visit their mistresses.) Whatever your vice, we’ve sought out a few bars that excel at early entertaining.
Outdoorsy: Buvette Chez Simone (pictured)
With winter finally over, patio season is in full swing. Buvette Chez Simone has one of the most sought-after terraces in Montreal: spectacular people watching, attractive clientele and it’s always abuzz. If you like finger food, be sure to give their tapas menu a shot — it’s one of the city’s best. 4869 Parc Ave., 514-750-6577
Else’s is a neighbourhood staple for Plateau locals, but the welcoming ambiance will have out-of-towners feeling right at home. It’s a quiet and hip joint tucked off the main, boasting hot and cold ciders as well as a wide variety of ales and Scotches. They also have comfort food such as chili. An ideal place to decompress.
Youthful: Casa del Popolo
Sibling bar/café to renowned Sala Rossa, the premise of Casa del Popolo is quite simple. A tight selection of beers on tap, including a cider and conventional bar rail drinks (all on discount between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.) makes things a little easier for the indecisive. With a back terrace, burritos and nachos, and an eclectic mix of music, Casa is great for stopping in for a pint on your way home.
Drinks-Only: Le Local
A place known for its excellent wait staff and atmosphere, but ho-hum food, Le Local is the perfect bar to go to with the sole intention of drinking. Trendy with a knockout terrace — you’ll be hard pressed to find a better alternative in the beautiful Old Port. 740 William St., 514-397-7737
On Trend: Philemon
Gathering attention from yupsters and suits alike, Philemon became Montreal’s “go to” in 2011 for all the right reasons. No-nonsense class, extensive wine list, low-key vibe — what’s not to like? It also has the rep of being one of the hottest pick-up spots, so bring your A-game, boys. 11 St-Paul St. West, 514-289-3777
Image courtesy of mediafury.