As I set out on a chilly Thursday evening to Montreal's new Hiverside ice bar, my mind was filled with scenes from the James Bond movie Die Another Day. In this classic early aughts spy romp, our hero, Mr. Bond, is invited to the villain's ice palace (which is somehow also a diamond mine) and hijinks ensue. And though I lack the martini-fueled charm of Pierce Brosnan, I was about to feel like Bond himself at this quirky Montreal ice bar.
What the movie didn't show you was that under that tuxedo, James Bond was wearing several layers of thermal underwear. Me, on the other hand? One measly layer of pants. I was shaken. But despite my lack of longjohns, Hiverside definitely stirred me up.
Now, many of you might be thinking, "c'mon, just how different can this be from any other themed bar?" Believe me, this is like nothing you've ever seen before in Montreal.
As you walk into the massive inflatable igloo, the first thing you'll notice is how remarkable the sculpted ice really is. From the tables and benches to a literal piano, the ice has been carved to absolute perfection.
It should come as no surprise since the ice was sculpted by the renowned Julien Doré, the artist behind Quebec's Hôtel de glace.
Flanking both sides of the bar are two sets of tables with enough room for about six people per table. The benches are covered in recycled furs that after a prolonged sit-down, don't do much to keep your butt from going numb. Luckily, at the back of the bar is an open area with heating lamps that got packed really fast.
With the music pumping and people spilling in, my friends and I were lucky enough to nab one of the last remaining tables. First up on the drink menu was a sort of vodka spritz made with cotton candy. While I'm not big on sweet drinks, the cocktail managed to strike a good balance and wasn't overpowering.
Next up was the hot chocolate cocktail. Now, I'm no mixologist, but mixing alcohol with hot chocolate is kind of a strange idea. At first, the drink was tasty but quite heavy on the alcohol. Unfortunately, hot drinks don't do too well surrounded by ice and what started out as a tasty drink became an abhorrent swirl of alcohol and cold hot chocolate. But maybe that's your thing?
I was so glad the next drink, the hot toddy cocktail, redeemed the hot chocolate. On the first sip, I forgot all about my numb bum and was whisked away to a planet made of warm duvets. It was classic, delicious, strong but not destructive, and the perfect thing to drink while sitting on an ice bench.
If you're looking for a fun night out to get drinks with friends in a mesmerizing environment, this is the place for you. My only advice is to layer up!
Is Hiverside worth it? Most definitely.
Hiverside Ice Bar
Price: $60/person for a reservation; Hiverside also accepts walk-ins
Where: Riverside bar, 5020, rue St-Ambroise, Montreal, QC
Price: $60/person for a reservation; Hiverside also accepts walk-ins
When: Thursdays to Saturdays
Where: Riverside Bar, 5020, rue Saint-Ambroise, Montreal, QC
Why You Need To Go: The cold will never stop Montrealers from enjoying the things we love, like a night out for drinks. Riverside's transformation into Hiverside, a bar carved from real ice, is the perfect example.
Why You Need To Go: Montreal's new supper club, 212, now serves Sunday brunch so the good times keep rolling straight through to your favourite meal of the week. There are some fancy dishes on offer like eggs benedict with cognac and caviar hollandaise and frittatas dusted with actual gold powder.
Tired of going to the same old bars in Montreal? Hiverside, which opened the doors of its giant inflatable igloo on December 10, offers a one-of-a-kind (and super Canadian) nightlife experience because it's crafted out of actual ice.
Between the glacial furniture, festive drinks and magical entranceway full of fairy lights, Hiverside — which you may know as Riverside St-Henri when it's not frozen over — has transformed into a true winter wonderland.
"The cold winds of winter have frozen Riverside, the lush greenery has been enrobed in ice and snow. Amongst the frozen landscape of the sud-ouest and the Lachine Canal, a winter-wonderland has emerged," reads the Hiverside website. It notes that the pop-up is a partnership between Riverside, Grey Goose Vodka and Cointreau.
You may be expecting a bar made from ice to be cold and, well, you'd be right. But Narcity Québec's Françoise Goulet-Pelletier, who visited Hiverside, said, "as the evening progressed, I felt more and more comfortable and my body gradually warmed up." Goulet-Pelletier said the Hiverside team provides blankets and hand warmers for all clients, plus there's a heated section at the back of the bar where chilly patrons can warm up.
As I walked into Tiramisu, I was floored by how gorgeous the space is. With its lush greenery (the bar is decked out in cascading vines) and gold detailing, the ambiance screams laid-back sophistication.
We sat down at a super cozy yet cool-looking booth and began tasting a range of dishes. On the appetizer menu for the evening: burrata, sushi arancini, endive with stracciatella, and tuna tataki. Some dishes leaned more Japanese and others more Italian, but the combination of flavours worked beautifully together.
Moving onto mains, we obviously had to dig into some pizza. We tried a classic Margherita, which is always my baseline test for whether or not a place makes good pizza and this one definitely passed! Then we tried the Mamma Mortadella, which is made with béchamel, mascarpone, pistachios, honey and mortadella.
Of course, the perfect pairing with pizza is pasta. We tried seafood spaghetti with fresh squid ink, scallops, clams, shrimps, salmon and ikura as well as Tonkotsu Lasagna made with béchamel, fior di latte, miso, white wine and pork.
Next, it was time for dessert and I know what you're thinking: "How was the tiramisu?!" A place named after this iconic dessert has a lot to live up to. Tiramisu's version of tiramisu did not dissapoint. It's made with Japanese whiskey as opposed to the traditional Marsala wine and rum, which gives it a really unique flavour. It's also served with burnt marshmallow on top — a tasty touch.
We capped off the night with espresso martini cocktails. After all, Italian culture dictates that one should enjoy an espresso after a night of eating delicious food, drinking delicious drinks and laughing with friends — and that was our experience in a nutshell.
Why You Need To Go: Located in the new Hampton Inn Hotel where Chinatown meets Old Montreal, Tiramisu is the perfect example of cultures colliding to create something totally unique extraordinary — and delicious — in the city.
Montreal's Riverside bar is transforming into a "winter wonderland" — with drinks!
Courtesy of Riverside
What do you do during the winter when you run a popular outdoor bar? Well, you turn it into an ice bar, of course!
Montreal's famous Riverside St-Henri has frozen over for the winter months, transforming into 'Hiverside,' a terrasse covered with a giant, 40-by-20-foot inflatable igloo, and, inside, a bar and furniture made of ice.
"Amongst the frozen landscape of the sud-ouest and the Lachine Canal, a winter wonderland has emerged," a statement shared with MTL Blog reads.
The bar itself is the work of ice sculptor Julien Doré "of Hôtel de Glace fame," according to Riverside.
Hiverside will have chairs, benches and tables carved from ice and covered in recycled furs. There will also be a heated section at the back of the bar in case you catch a chill.
The folks behind Riverside St-Henri have partnered with mixologist Max Coubès to offer a spin on favourite seasonal drinks. The menu will feature both hot and cold cocktails such as their hot toddy, chocolate martini, cotton candy spritz, eggnog and mulled wine.
Hiverside will be open to the public on Thursdays from 7 p.m. to midnight. The bar will also be accepting reservations on the weekends for 1.5-hour blocks of time. Patrons can reserve time slots from 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays only. Walk-ins will be accepted during the weekend too.
Hiverside will have its official opening on Friday, December 10.
The bar promises Montrealers will be "equally amazed by both the beauty and intricacy of what awaits you."