Sure there’s lots of bars in Montreal, but since closing time is at three and nobody gets to the bar until midnight you’ll probably want to pre-drink first. The depanneur (or dep) is your local convenience and beer store. If you’re a first year (and especially if you live in residence) you’ll probably be getting acquainted with the 40. Over a litre of alcohol for under six dollars, it comes in various strengths from five to ten per cent, avoid the Colt .45 and stick with Blue Dry, it doesn’t taste great but it’s better then the rest and it’ll do the job. There’s a lot of local Quebec beer (Boriale, Griffon, Unibroue), they’re usually pretty cheap and taste pretty good. While you can buy wine at the dep it’s usually overpriced and tastes like shit. Avoid the dep wine unless you’re at the gas station and buying it for the novelty value of buying gas station wine. There is one exception, Porte d’enfur (gates of hell) the white is disgusting but the red isn’t that bad and for just over $10 a litre, this 14 per cent does the trick quite nicely. According to the bottle it’s a good wine to “share with friends” and “goes well with almost every meal.” The only downside is that 11 o’clock is last call, but with a dep on every corner if you havn’t stocked up by 11 you really have no excuse.
The grocery store is a step up for wine. Nicer stores generally have better quality, while others carry the same stuff as the dep but almost always at lower prices. For beer it’s pretty comparable to the dep but some of the big chains (like Provigo) have their own store brands of beer, Presidents Choice is the best tasting beer you can get for a dollar a bottle. Like the dep, grocery stores aren’t allowed to sell beer after 11.
If you’re going for the hard stuff, or a bottle of decent wine you’ll have to hit up the SAQ, Quebec’s government run liquer stores. There’s several different types all with different selections and different closing times, though none are open past 10 and your local SAQ might close eairlier. Besides all the standard liquer the SAQ also has wine starting at around nine dollars. Not only can SAQ wine be the cheaper than the dep or the grocery store, even their cheapest bottle is better than the best thing you can get at the dep (and even most grocery stores). Of course you can pay a lot more and get something even better, if you want. The SAQ also has a small beer selection of, mostly, less common imports.