Since 2013 La Champagnerie bubbles bar in Montreal’s Old Port has melded the allure of Barcelona’s cava bars with the classic French cavalry tradition of sabrage—or, the practice of opening of a champagne bottle with one swift strike of a sword. While, back in the 19th century, Napoleon is said to have been the first to smoothly break off the tip as villagers handed him bottles of champagne to celebrate his army’s safe return, sabering is now a thrill for all patrons visiting La Champagnerie (one of the only bars in Canada where guests are allowed to perform the act themselves).
Theatrics aside, the restobar can be described as a cozy spot offering a variety of colourful dishes derived from chef Jacques Coutu’s Chinese and Québecois background, where the inexperienced champagne drinker and the connoisseur are both equally welcomed. With a staggering selection of bubbly from around the world, including some vintages from Dom Pérignon, Piper Heidsieck, Krug, and now their very own Cuvée Sabrée Blanc de Blancs Brut, there is an endless list of possible drinks with which to toast.
Pleasantly, the staff consists of not only masters in the ancient art of sabering, but also seasoned mixologists, ready to offer recommendations. Death in the Afternoon, a mix of champagne or sparkling wine of your choice with absinthe, and Baie et Bulles, a St-Remy brandy mixed with raspberry purée, fresh lemon juice, and added bubbles, are some of their most popular.
Creating a cool and comfortable vibe where bubbly takes center stage, La Champagnerie, now holding another location opened this past fall in Quebec City, is a place where you do not need an excuse to celebrate. The eclectic menu and sparkling cocktails are reason enough. As Napoleon himself once said, “Champagne! In victory one deserves it; in defeat one needs it!”
La Champagnerie, 343 St Paul St E, Montreal, QC H2Y 1H3, (514) 903-9343.
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