There seems to be a trend building on Notable.ca that has us pointing thirsty YPs in the direction of one of Montreal’s more eclectic neighborhoods. The Plateau has been described as “up and coming” for a few years now, and today the once alternative-style area is in full swing, buzzing with artsy and YP crowds alike. As with most of the best bars in the Plateau, an unassuming exterior has become the telltale sign of a good time inside. This could not be more true for Le Lab, located on the corner of Rachel East and Lanaudiere across from Parc Le Fontaine. From the street, Le Lab’s simple black and red exterior invokes expectations of perhaps light radio tunes and a cold Quebec beer. Once past the narrow, dark entrance, however, patrons are immediately transported to the lively era of prohibition and speakeasies, when drinks were served in underground bars just like Le Lab. If you make it to Le Lab before the crowds (they open at 5), labtenders dressed in Al Capone-like duds quickly welcome you with a smile, an instant glass of ice water, and limitless personal recommendations.
All themes aside, the main attraction at Le Lab is their inventive, and often peculiar cocktails. Sure, most bars have signature drinks, but Le Lab has 12 pages of them, which they update every six months. Before making your way through the extensive (French) drink menu, considering the monthly specials (made with the fruit of the month), or simply handing over creative control to the Le Lab’s creative mixologists, your best bet is to pony up to the bar to take a front row seat for the creation of your cocktail. Using vintage style apothecary tools, blow torches, and many curious ingredients, the mixologists produce small works of art that are sure to intrigue you, your coworkers, and your clients.
One of Le Lab’s most popular cocktails is the Jerky Lab Jack, made with Jack Daniels whiskey, Contreau triple sec, a secret barbeque flavoring that includes ignited liquid smoke, and garnished, believe it or not, with a big chunk of beef jerky. Since cocktails at Le Lab are so intricate, expect to wait. If you are looking for a more prompt option, or something a little less daring, Le Lab also carries a wide selection of unique beers and wines.
Since opening in 2008, the once anonymous cocktail bar has risen to fame and has become popular with varying crowds. While weekends at Le Lab yield a busier student-friendly atmosphere, weekdays are calmer and geared more toward Montreal’s YPs.