From an old website, Alien in Montreal
I don't normally date reviews as I like them to be, ahem, timeless, but in this case, I think it is important, as this bar has just opened. Otherwise, if you read this in six months time you might wonder what on earth I'm talking about. It is August 2004.
So, down a side-street, next door to the 3 Brasseurs in the Latin Quarter is L'Ambassade, a new bar which hasn't even gotten around to mounting a sign with the name of the bar yet. To glean this information you have to peer at the chalkboard outside.
You can tell it's a bar though, as rather loud techno music is blasting out and people are cheering and whooping inside. There is also a crusty looking chap balanced on the chalkboard, doing yoga type postures, rather shakily. He's either calmly drunk, or excitedly stoned. Somehow he manages to not break an ankle, as we walk by and inside to meet Mary and PVC.
The pub is long and very thin. There is a walkway on one side with some tables on the other. The absence of tables opposite the bar signifies the area where people jump up and down and shout (dancing, I think it's called), and on the bar itself, next to a lot of pint glasses and water, is a pair of decks and a DJ spinning his stuff.
The music is great, kind of funky, very danceable techno. It is busy inside, however, and very loud. The girls can't spot Mary and PVC, so they beckon me to return outside with them. We stand on the street.
'What are we doing?' I ask.
They don't know. Shall we wait inside? Will we stay? Is it too loud? Where are Mary and PVC?
Eventually we go back inside and buy drinks after a bit of a battle and wait.
As I wait for the wife at the bar, I roll a cigarette. A man walks by, then pauses and looks at my half-rolled fag.
'Is that weed?' He says.
'No, just tobacco.' I tell him, and wave the drum packet at him.
He frowns, 'Because if it was weed, I'd have to arrest you!' He laughs, too loud.
I smile and make a ha-ha noise.
He hasn't finished - this is a joke, it seems: '... Arrest you to smoke it with you!' He laughs again and walks upstairs to where another floor will be next month (so we're told).
We take a position near the door, in the walkway. I look around. The décor is still unfinished. The walls are bare and new plaster is visible in places.
Ah, Mary and PVC arrive. The look instantly unhappy at the venue. PVC spends less than a minute inside before going next door to the 3 Brasseurs. Mary stays whilst we finish our drinks, and is set upon by an odd man:
He holds out his hand and says, 'Weigh my ring.'
'Go on, weigh my ring.'
She does, lifting his hand lightly. He seems happy.
'Heavy isn't it?' He says.
'Oh, yes.' Agrees Mary.
He wanders off.
Tina turns to me and tells me that this place used to be a water bar.
'A what?' I ask.
'A water bar.'
'What the hell is a water bar?'
'A bar that just sells water.'
I think about this, then ask, 'Did it work?'
Well, obviously not, as the place is now a beer bar. What an idea - a bar selling only water. Perhaps in a desert, but not in Montreal.
1660 Rue St-Denis, Montreal