IT SURE WAS A CLASSY BAR: Fare thee well, Hotel de la Montagne
Photo by Heather Lewenza
A farewell to Thursday’s Bar ran in last weekend’s Gazette. It seems many Montrealers are sad to see it go. Not the Montrealers I know. We’re weeping for its sister property, another sort of downtown hangout: Hotel de la Montagne (also owned by Ragueneau father et fils). Not the 100-plus hotel rooms — even after a decade, I’m not sure what they look like. And not the rooftop bar — it had gorgeous views, but the crowd was as questionable as the swimming pool’s water quality. No, we’re mourning the closing of the downstairs bar and lounge, officially called Le Cabaret but known to us as DLM. Here’s what we’ll miss the most.
1. Double-fisting drinks (aka the booze)
Though there was no 5 à 8 on DLM’s last Friday in business (the bar staff feared they’d run out of booze before closing), the drink specials were what drew most newcomers to the place. You’d pay for one whiskey sour and two would arrive at the same time. If you accidentally ordered two, you’d get four. Tabletops were thick with glasses after a single round, and it was always a race against time to down your drink before the second (or fourth) reached room temperature.
2. Cheese ‘n’ pickles (aka the food)
At DLM, you could watch the city’s biggest food snobs stain their fingers with baskets of greasy, home-fried potato chips. Why? Because they were there. Though the menu was rarely consulted, let alone ordered from, a plate of baguette, mini pickles and a cheese log paired perfectly with the aforementioned drink specials. Not the fancy kind of cheese log you may be thinking of (rolled in herbs and nuts around the holidays), but a long, thin slab milder than string cheese.
3. Rococo-nuts (aka the décor)
Long before Instagram was a glimmer in a developer’s eye, DLM indulged our love for uncanny photo ops and faux nostalgia. The off-white moldings and goddess frescoes that did not quite stand up in the daylight; the nude fountain pixie proved a more reliable greeter than the doorman; the neon red coat check hanger, glowing like some sort of modern art pro-choice emblem. When you really sat back and looked around, you felt like you were on the set of a movie — sometimes Saturday Night Fever, sometimes The Shining.
4. Disco inferno (aka the music)
It took a while to figure it out. You’d hear everything from Soft Cell to Shakira, and it would all be background noise (even while streaming into the washroom) until it hit you: It was live, each song performed by the same versatile singer-keyboarder pair. When they weren’t competing with the hum of blind date small talk and lotto machines, there was salsa music and local disco legends like Pierre Perpall aka Purple Flash “DJing inconspicuously for the after-work crowd” (at least according to my music nerd friend, Chris).
5. All the lonely people (aka the crowd)
Like I said, the roof was strictly for amateurs. Anyone worth watching was down below, from the piano man (beamed in from another era) to the fabulous gaggles of women with hair streaked red to match their power suits. If you went on a Friday, you’d have to navigate your way through tables of 40-something singles, there for a monthly meet-and-greet. You watched them nurse their drinks and make small talk, and you pitied them a little, in spite of yourself. Until about an hour later, when they’d be tearing up the dance floor while you and your friends were figuring out where to go for Chinese. I always thought I might end up there, looking for love, one day.
We should have mingled while we still had the chance. We should have danced. We should have ordered two more drinks.
So long, DLM, and thanks for all the pickles. ■