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Backdoor Bars

Four tucked-away watering holes.

Big in JapanBig in Japan (Photo by Dominique Lafond)

Big in Japan

Blink and you’ll miss the red door nestled between a beloved burger joint and a watch repair shop on Saint-Laurent Boulevard, in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood. A long, velvet-curtained corridor sets the speakeasy tone for this soft-jazz locale, where dapper bartenders mix Negronis under the glow of tealights reflected in Japanese whisky bottles magnetically suspended from the ceiling.

4175 boulevard St-Laurent, 438-380-5658


A quiet Covent Garden juice bar’s 18-seat basement drinkery does a brisk business despite not stocking liquor. At Bring Your Own Cocktail, patrons duck behind a counter before heading down the cellar stairs with a favourite bottle in tow. The £20 cover gets you a two-hour table reservation, during which time the mixologist relies on the contents of his well-stocked vintage Italian bar cart (fresh-pressed juices from upstairs, herbs, homemade cordials and bitters) to concoct custom drinks.

28 Bedfordbury St., 44-20-7871-6733

Metamatic TafMetamatic: Taf

Metamatic: Taf

Hidden behind tumbledown neoclassical buildings in the flea market neighbourhood of Monastiraki, the courtyard bar of this art gallery and cultural centre is a magnet for Athenian creatives. Stop by for the ever-changing exhibitions and daytime cappuccinos, then return for a nightcap to rub shoulders with the artists and socialites who enjoy the subdued lighting and garden-party atmosphere.

Normanou 5, 30-210-3238-757

Mulberry Project

New York
Never mind the knockoff-handbag vendor’s wares upstairs: this underground resto-bar in Little Italy is definitely the real deal. Down a staircase and behind an unmarked door, brick walls and tufted leather booths are the only constant in this subterranean den: the graffiti-chic decor, like the drinks, is ever-changing (a chalkboard announces the day’s fresh fruit for the bespoke cocktails).

149 Mulberry Street, 646-448-4536



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