The legal age to purchase alcohol in Québec is 18 and the Quebecois are usually not very rigid in enforcing this age limit. All retail alcohol sales stop at 11PM and bars and clubs stop serving at 3AM.
Quality wine and liquor (but only a small selection of imported beers) can only be purchased at SAQ shops, most of which are open until 6PM Su—W and 8PM or 9PM on weekends; the smaller SAQ Express outlets are open daily from 11AM to 10PM. Beer, and a small selection of lower-quality wine, are also sold at convenience stores (dépanneurs) and grocery stores (usually the same selection as the dépanneurs). Wine sold outside of the SAQ, known as "piquette" by the locals, has been imported in bulk, bottled, and sometimes blended in Quebec —not the best choice to bring to a dinner party.
Montrealers are largely unaware of how blessed they are by the selection of beer to be found in the humble corner store. Two local breweries in particular are world-class: McAuslan (brands include St-Ambroise and Griffon) and Unibroue (Belgian-style ales such as Blanche de Chambly, Maudite, and La Fin du Monde, etc. The U and U2 lagers are rather ordinary). Boréale also makes a good, if unspectacular range of brews.
Bars / Nightlife
Montreal has three main strips for bar-hopping. Rue Crescent, in the western part of downtown, caters mostly to Anglophones and tourists. It tends to be trendy and expensive. On the edge of the bar-heavy Plateau, Boulevard Saint-Laurent gets extremely busy when McGill and Concordia students are back in town for a new session. Between rue Sherbrooke and avenue des Pins you'll find trendy clubs and bars with more of a Francophone clientele. Farther up St-Laurent, it's relatively downscale and linguistically mixed. Rue St-Denis, between Sherbrooke and de Maisonneuve, is the strip with the strongest Francophone feel. There are also many good bars away from the main strips. You should never have to line up to go have a drink, because there's virtually an unlimited choice.
Dance clubs can be found all over the downtown area, with hotspots on St. Laurent and Crescent St.
After hours clubs, for those who aren't tired out by 3AM, are open 2AM-10AM. They don't serve alcohol.
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