These 4 Speak Easies Should be Your Next Stop
Hidden doors, secret passwords and old-fashioned drinks — modern speakeasies recreate the clandestine bars of the Prohibition era with brio, right down to the thick veil of secrecy.
From outside, it would appear this Montreal speakeasy buried at basement level along Saint-Denis Street likes to play coy. But once inside, it’s clear that this throwback of an establishment is one memorable spot. Dim lighting, brick walls and plush seating take it back, way back, while gravlax-style salmon tartare, Mademoiselle Chanel (Gaston de Lagrange cognac, Bailey’s, crème de cacao and milk) and smooth contemporary R’n’B gives this spot a modern twist.
Asian-inspired cocktails and dim sum: Lopan is where Torontonians in the know come to enjoy Eastern-flavoured libations in a quaint, sophisticated atmosphere. Located on the second floor of Little Italy’s celebrated DaiLo restaurant, this speakeasy’s menu is as rich and lavish as the gilded markings on the walls. Case in point — Asian confit duck wings and truffle fried rice, as well as drinks that beckon like a perfectly tart Lemongrass Gimlet and Wo Shing Wo, which melds Pike Creek rye, dry vermouth, lemon and cherry-anise syrup.
Hidden inside luxe Halifax desserterie and bar The Middle Spoon, this erstwhile boiler room turned clandestine boîte — complete with velvet curtains, tufted-back chairs and exposed ceilings — has all the makings of a classic 1920s-style speakeasy. Still, award-winning mixologist Jenner Cormier’s cocktail menu mixes the old with the new — think Manhattan on one side and the class favourite, Adam’s Apple, which melds aged amber rum, ginger wine, aperol, sweet vermouth and orange bitters to delectable effect, on the other. Entry into this exclusive bar requires a password, sent out every Thursday by mailing list, if you can manage to get on it. (Hint: examine The Middle Spoon’s website!)
The Staff Roof
Ottawa’s Union 613 serves up proudly Canadian Southern cuisine out of an eccentric resto pub on Somerset Street West. And while unsuspecting patrons feast on marinated mackerel and grilled bavette upstairs, an intimate, rustic-style speakeasy, accessible through a door masquerading as a bookcase, calls below. Made entirely of reclaimed wood, this old-timey shack serves intricate cocktails and international whiskeys including selections from Japan, South Africa and the Netherlands. Care for a Cypress Swill (rosemary-infused Tromba tequila, Grand Marnier, pineapple juice, lime juice, gomme syrup, grapefruit bitters and chili oil)? You’ll have to unearth the secret bookcase (and pull the right book) first.