Cocktailing was always something we were worried about being caught doing—in fact, we avoided it entirely. Having a few stiff drinks at home to take the edge off a long workday is one thing, going for Cosmotinis with the boys is quite another. Luckily, grey areas exist. Even luckier, Montreal’s cocktail scene is ripe with some seriously authoritative and inventive mixologists. Below, a glimpse into innovation and a much-needed throwback to convention.
Aviator @ Sardine Café
New to the bar-resto-coffee-donut scene is gem Sardine Café, and it’s now impossible to imagine the city without it. Coinciding with their spectacular menu, the drinks also showcase Quebec’s natural greenery: everything is handpicked along the St Lawrence River, and we admit a little taste of home is a little taste of heaven. The Aviator is gin, maraschino, a little fresh squeezed lemon, muddled violet and a splash of violet syrup. The result? A flavour we can’t exactly put our finger on, but can’t keep our hands off. Remarkable. 9 Fairmount Ave. E., 514-802-8899.
Raspberry Punch @ VORO
Resident bartender Gabriel Monnin-Johnson went on gut instinct with this one: basil and raspberries notoriously go hand in hand, and so he conjured up a drink that highlights the natural sugars in the berry. His Raspberry Punch is packed with gin, vodka, sliced raspberries, slapped basil, honey syrup—topped with a little white cran’ and soda water. Looks a bit hoity-toity, but this thing is strong, and the sweetness comes straight from the fruit, rather than the syrup. We’ll buy it. 275 Fairmount Ave. W., 514-509-1341
Old Fashioned @ Baldwin Barmacie
Finishing on a more traditional note, an Old Fashioned never fails to put hair on your chest. Baldwin serves up this drink with bourbon, sliced orange, bitters and granulated sugar, garnished with a maraschino cherry. While other more elaborate—albeit feminine—drinks are offered (“Bloodydirtymartini” or “Pomme”), Baldwin is renowned for quality across the board. A cocktail bar by definition, no one should overlook something a little on the classic side—especially when it’s done as well as this. 115 Laurier Ave. W., 514-276-4248