salon badin

Salon Badin is the basement bar and listening lounge of our dreams

Downstairs from Little Burgundy restaurant HENI is an intimate, elevated cocktail bar with DJs spinning vinyl.

We love a basement bar. We love being guided through the rich tapestry that is Restaurant HENI (an emerging city favourite, highlighting elevated recipes from the SWANA region (Southwest Asia and North Africa). We love trailing down a set of stairs, pushing through a seemingly not-there door, only to discover a dimly lit intimate space. The entire Salon Badin experience feels special, yes, but truly in the sense of feeling like it’s just you. While my date and I both immersed ourselves in a beguiling cocktail experience, I barely noticed the other guests there.

Alongside the booze, the bar offers a vinyl-only experience curated via a select crew of DJs — a kind of commitment that ensures an authentic and immersive musical journey for guests who appreciate the true essence of vinyl. Finally, Little Burgundy’s own version of Sans Soleil? 

Salon Badin DJ menu

This evening, my companion and I are handed a long and slim menu, with a selection of six cocktails highlighted on its first page. We opt for the first, the Shitake (Bar Hill, honey, port, shiitake, corn, coffee), having been recommended this the most. Unsure, really, of what to expect, our server brought us each a glass: vibrant pink in colour, unveiled with a smoky charred finish, and floating in the middle was in fact said shiitake mushroom. It was unexpected. The bitterness of its smoky odor cut right through its saccharine tang. 

An elevated cocktail bar like this often carries its own kind of pretension, but I was delighted to peruse the menu’s pages, only to discover Badin’s literary spin: Guests are offered small blurbs that divulge the true “story” of each cocktail, written out in both French and English. Émile Archambault, creative director at Badin (Île Flottante, Cabaret l’Enfer), goes on to share the journey of discovering “the best cocktail of my career.” It’s a story that finds its protagonist (Archambault) with a determined desire to unsweeten an initial concoction. Thus, the mushrooms and coffee. One can’t help but read on. What happened to result in the Pomodoro (featuring both tomato and zaatar)? Why add mustard and jalapeño to the Left Field? Bardin invokes a culinary curiosity to your beverages, answering the two questions most foodies find themselves facing: where did this come from, and why does it taste this way?

A glance at the menu at Salon Badin

These cocktails deviously lack in alcohol flavour, focusing on a more complex palate. You almost question if you can ever really get a nice buzz going at a place like this? You can, assures the service. Before placing our first order, we were brought over welcoming shots: tequila, bergamot, grappa. And well, of course, you can get your basic requests in, too. My date, an old friend, abides heavily by a truly perfect dirty vodka martini, and with her own expertise in this arena, we are happy to confirm Badin respects the “truly perfect” part.

Alongside Archambault, HENI’s Noah Abecassis serves as Badin’s general manager, complemented by bartender Jonas Kempeneers from Cloakroom Bar. Together, they enrich the cocktail program with diverse influences and high-concept mixology expertise. Sip away. ■

For more on Salon Badin and to make a reservation, please visit their Instagram.

For more on the food and drink scene in Montreal, please visit the Food & Drink section.