Home Life Shake, strain and serve: A small, well-hidden gem

Shake, strain and serve: A small, well-hidden gem

by Andrej Ivanov January 19, 2016
Shake, strain and serve: A small, well-hidden gem

Open a hidden door to discover Montreal’s true Prohibition-style cocktail bar: Cloakroom

Maison Cloakroom is a tailor shop that makes ready-to-wear and made-to-measure suits on de la Montagne Street. Upon entering through the old-fashioned wooden doors, visitors face a mirrored wall and turn right to go into the clothing store. But after closer inspection, the mirrored wall holds a handle, which, once opened, leads into one of Montreal’s newest bars, Cloakroom.

At Cloakroom, bartenders tailor drinks to their customer’s liking, based on their preferred alcohol base. Photos by Andrej Ivanov.

At Cloakroom, bartenders tailor drinks to their customer’s liking, based on their preferred alcohol base. Photos by Andrej Ivanov.

Beautifully designed to enlarge the space, most of the walls of the bar are covered in mirrors. The bar itself is made of marble, coasters are replaced with cloth and drinks are served on top of small plates.

Seating only 25 people, the small bar is located in what used to be the storeroom of the tailor shop. Co-owner and head bartender Andrew Whibley said that he was inspired to create this traditional Prohibition-style speakeasy from various bars in London, England and especially Attaboy in New York City’s vibrant Lower East Side.

At Cloakroom, bartenders tailor drinks to their customer’s liking, based on their preferred alcohol base. Photos by Andrej Ivanov.

At Cloakroom, bartenders tailor drinks to their customer’s liking, based on their preferred alcohol base. Photos by Andrej Ivanov.

The two head bartenders, Whibley and Simon Lesperance bring their vast respective know-how to offer everyone an individual experience. Whibley has 12 years of experience in the restaurant business under his belt as well as award-winning cocktail creations. Whibley explained that aside from a planned menu, they want to offer cocktails to suit a person’s taste based on several questions, starting with: “What base alcohol do you like?”

Whibley has put in place a mentorship system where there are always two bartenders working. The second bartender proposes a cocktail based on the client’s likes and the head bartender has the final say on what a drink will be.

Don’t be fooled, though, the bar is reasonably priced: a cocktail will run anywhere from $10 to $13 depending on the base.

One thing that makes this bar unique is that everything is made fresh. An enormous bowl of fruit adorns the bar, all used for freshly squeezed chasers. The ice is also frozen in large trays, not in a machine.

When asked what he would recommend to new cocktail drinkers that come to his bar, Whibley suggested Corpse Reviver #2. “It’s a Prohibition-era drink that bartenders used to make the morning after a night of heavy drinking,” he said.

It’s a sweet drink made with equal parts gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, Kina Lillet—an aperitif wine—and a dash of absinthe.

At Cloakroom, bartenders tailor drinks to their customer’s liking, based on their preferred alcohol base. Photos by Andrej Ivanov.

At Cloakroom, bartenders tailor drinks to their customer’s liking, based on their preferred alcohol base. Photos by Andrej Ivanov.

As for the seasoned cocktail drinkers, Whibley recommends his own creation: Riviera.

The bar offers an experience unlike any other in Montreal. It’s done in the truest Prohibition-style to date. No gimmicks, no pretension, just cocktails.

At Cloakroom, bartenders tailor drinks to their customer’s liking, based on their preferred alcohol base. Photos by Andrej Ivanov.

At Cloakroom, bartenders tailor drinks to their customer’s liking, based on their preferred alcohol base. Photos by Andrej Ivanov.

Cloakroom is located at 2175 de la Montagne Street and is open from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

 

Riviera cocktail recipe

by Andrew Whibley

 

1.25oz Bacardí White

0.75oz Cocchi Americano (White Vermouth)

0.5oz Aperol

0.5oz Amaro Montenegro

0.5oz Lemon juice

4 dashes of Peychaud’s (Bitters)

Shake, Strain and Serve

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