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Mix, shake, sip: an English pub with a twist

by Andrej Ivanov January 12, 2016
Mix, shake, sip: an English pub with a twist

Discover the creativity and art of cocktail making in the cozy atmosphere of Pub Bishop & Bagg

With a recent renaissance of sorts in cocktail culture, making simple drinks has evolved into creating complex concoctions combining a plethora of flavours. Newly emerging cocktail bars are changing the game by adding their unique twist on an age-old tradition.

The pub has over 90 different kinds of gin, 15 types of amaro and 15 types of vermouth. Photo by Andrej Ivanov.

The pub has over 90 different kinds of gin, 15 types of amaro and 15 types of vermouth. Photo by Andrej Ivanov.

With this resurgence, many cocktail bars have opened around Montreal. Some are well known while others have yet to be discovered.

With its traditional exterior, it’s easy to miss Pub Bishop & Bagg or dismiss it as just another English pub. But this neighbourhood bar, located in the Mile End on the corner of St-Viateur Street Ouest and Clark Street, offers much more than meets the eye.

The pub was created as a continuation of the very popular Burgundy Lion in Little Burgundy. Bartender Sean-Michael McCaffrey said the pub was opened with the intention of having a smaller scale, more traditional cocktail bar in a completely different neighbourhood.

In came its three bartenders: McCaffrey, Drahos Chytry, and Sabrina Mailhot. Combining their years of diverse experience and their knowledge in cocktails and service, the three were able to create a diversified, easily accessible seasonal menu of high-end cocktails ranging between $10-$13.

The bar stocks 90 different kinds of gin, 15 types of amaro and 15 types of vermouth, making the possibilities for variations and tastes practically endless.

McCaffrey was eager to recommend some cocktails, which both beginner cocktail drinkers and seasoned veterans can enjoy. Newcomers should stick to the classics, but keep it diverse.

“Try a bitter cocktail and sweet cocktail,” said McCaffrey, listing the bitter Negroni, made with gin, Campari and sweet red vermouth and the sweet bramble, a classic English cocktail with blackberry liqueur, gin, lime juice and sugar as examples.

“Then try an old fashioned or a manhattan. Stick to the classics to gain knowledge about where cocktails come from,” he said.

The little secret specialties of the bar will vary between bartenders. Each bartender has their specialty drinks, said McCaffrey. Chytry’s specialty was also his claim to fame: a pisco sour. The cocktail is traditionally South American and mixes pisco, egg white, lemon juice and sugar.

When asked what his favorite drink to make is,  McCaffrey answered without the slightest hesitation: “Daiquiris. They are simple and there is a variety to them.”

From its humble beginning as a traditional English pub, Bishop & Bagg has since grown and incorporated themed nights into their repertoire.

McCaffrey said the most popular event is their Sunday night pub quiz, allowing people to compete in teams of six through two rounds of a variety of pop culture and general knowledge questions. The prize is $50 off the winning team’s bar tab.

For a less traditional experience, the bar holds a cocktail competition every Tuesday. The idea is simple: bartenders from different bars need to create a twist on a drink that is announced the same day. The crowd judges—whoever gets more orders wins. McCaffrey said that there is a three-month waiting list of weekly bartenders who want to participate.


Pub Bishop & Bagg is located at 52 St-Viateur and is open from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. on weekends and 11:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. on weekdays.

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