NHÂU BAR

Air Canada enRoute - - MONTRÉAL -

MON­TREAL ISN’T EX­ACTLY HURT­ING FOR SEXY DRINK­ING SPOTS, but Nhâ.u still feels damn spe­cial. The base­ment bar, lo­cated un­der bustling South­east Asian restau­rant Hà, is dimly lit by dozens of over­size pa­per lanterns sus­pended from the ceil­ing. My friend and I snag a seat at the bar next to a cou­ple shar­ing a com­i­cally large tiki drink packed with sake, jas­mine and berg­amot. I re­sist the urge to su­per­size and order a Pan­dan Sour; the vanilla-ish South Asian herb lifts the sour notes and the egg-white top­per makes it light and fresh. The Indo China Punch is its sweeter foil, with hints of honey and car­damom over a tea-meets-gin base, and my friend and I en­joy them both from our dark and mys­te­ri­ous peo­ple-watch­ing perch on the deep side of the bar. The place is loud with­out be­ing ob­nox­ious, full with­out feel­ing claus­tro­pho­bic. Our cheeky, flirty bar­tender checks in just enough for us to dish about him in his ab­sence, and de­liv­ers a tangy salmon tartare, which I scoop up with deep-fried crab chips while my veg­gie pal digs hard on the salty kick of a crunchy tofu dish. We could stay all night, but we move an inch and a clutch of fes­tive lo­cals rushes in to snag our spot.

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