Big in Japan is one of Montreal’s most beautiful bars, if not the most beautiful. It is an extension of the same-named restaurant. A magnificent cocktail bar is popular in Japan. It was once a traditional Portuguese bar with poker machines. André Nguyen, Julie Bisson, and designer Bruno Bran designed a new space that is both modern and intimate with the surroundings. It has a ‘speakeasy’ vibe, and you enter a perfect intimate ambiance once you pass through the heavy curtains. So, just looking at all those whiskey bottles hanging in their proper places confirms you’ve arrived. The velvet curtains, a U-shaped bar, fabulous house cocktails, and Japanese whiskeys and shakes make the atmosphere distinctly speakeasy on the corner of Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue Rachel.
Set the scene—where are we now? This Big In Japan, on the corner of Boulevard Saint-Laurent and Rue Rachel, is a high-class drinking den with a near-missable sign and door. Do not confuse it with the popular izakaya of the same name (and same owners) down the street. The atmosphere here is decidedly speakeasy, thanks to velvet curtains, a long, shiny, U-shaped bar, tea lights, and hanging fixtures made from old Japanese whiskey bottles. So, how is the crowd? Without trying too hard, she is stylish and well-dressed. Do the drinks live up to the name of the establishment? Suntory Toki, a Japanese whiskey worth trying, is among the sakes and Sojus on offer. The house cocktails are also fantastic. The Tokyo Mule is a snappy, Mojito-esque concoction of sake, ginger syrup, soda, lime, and mint, and the Rum Sour is a delectably sweet blend of rum, lime, and tonka bean syrup.
Classics like Champagne cocktails, Negronis, and Manhattans are expert-level, and the punch (a pitcher of cider, cognac, and local honey) is an instant party starter. And what if we get hungry? Snacks are limited to chips, kimchi salsa, soya-roasted pecans, pickled vegetables, and tuna tataki. How is their customer service? Even when the crowd grows, the bartenders remain calm and collected and know how to work the U-bar like a boss. To summarize: why are we coming here? This is an excellent location for a romantic date, an intimate conversation, or a fun night out with a few friends (in that case, order the punch). So, Big in Japan Bar is one of the best bars in Montreal for you and your loved ones.