Montreal from A to Z: Sarah B. absinthe bar
22 Monday Apr 2013
S is for Sarah B.
Sarah B. is an absinthe bar in Montreal. I set a scene from my novel, Naked Montreal, in a fictional version of the bar, so I thought I would share that excerpt with you today. Please note that the following is most likely NSFW, as the subject matter involves sex (or at least the prelude to it) and the book itself is 18+, so proceed accordingly!
Chapter 3: Ladies at Play
When we finally arrive back at the W, where the girls have booked themselves a sweet-ass room with a view, I propose a round of drinks at Sarah B.
“Where’s that?” they ask.
“Just up the street,” I say. “It’s an absinthe bar. Super posh, very romantic, and very much guaranteed to free you from the pesky bonds of sobriety.”
“Ooooh,” they murmur.
“It’s so French,” Kelly sighs.
“Will there be any hot guys?” Jenny asks. She’s been missing her ex, which is never a good thing on a Girls Only weekend.
“I can guarantee at least three very hot guys,” I say, texting my friends Jean-Marc, Maxime and Luc with “URGENT: Sarah B. absinthe and lady-boners STAT!” The three of them party together most nights and love to entertain my female clients with their French accents, ripped bodies and ridiculously good looks, so they only need one reply between them: “OUI MON AMOUR!!”
“Anybody need the ladies’ room?” I ask, herding them back towards the door.
“Oh, wait, I forgot my lip gloss!” Kelly squeals, rushing back toward the bathroom to grab it.
“Ready? Good. Let’s go!” I say, leading the parade. We sashay past the front desk, and I wink at the bellhop who opens the door for us like the classy ladies we are. He tips his cap almost imperceptibly, unable to hide his grin. I’m pretty sure we’ve met before, based on his reaction, though I can’t place him. It helps to have a photographic memory in this town, but a quick trip through my iPhone’s address book, annotated with mug shots of everyone I’ve ever met socially, ought to do it. Oh yes, the cute musician whose band I complimented a few weeks ago. He thinks he’ll get lucky because we’re in his hotel, and he has some vague idea what I do for a living. Keep dreaming, mon ami.
Sarah B. is, as always at this time on a Friday night, swinging. Though the bar itself is buried in the Hotel Intercontinental, its reputation for excess is legendary and its patrons are willing to line up in droves. The green fairy is the drug of choice for all manner of would-be artists, much like its original, more lethal predecessor from the mean streets of the Sacre Coeur and its epicenter, the Moulin Rouge. Only nowadays, the bohemians are known as hipsters, they’re much better dressed, and they’re living off mommy and daddy’s money while they flirt with taking a music, acting or writing degree at McGill. Everybody loves a trust fund baby.
Especially when the trust fund’s paying for drinks.
Jean-Marc, Maxime and Luc are good salt-of-the-earth working-class types who earn their own cash, so I must admit I prefer their company to that of the hipsters, though money is money when business is business. Okay, so they usually earn their cash in unorthodox ways that would make their parents blush, but at least they work for a living and pay their own way. They’re also gentlemen, beneath their wild-child exteriors, always opening doors and pulling out chairs for their lady friends. You’ll never catch them leaving without the girls they came with, though they may also be leaving with many more. They’re perfect, professional dates.
And you can typically see their sweet asses shaking it on stage at La Cage Aux Follies or Solid Gold, because lord love them, they’re some of the finest male strippers in town.
I told you their bodies were tight, didn’t I? You don’t get washboard abs from lying around the house eating bon-bons.
Jean-Marc is your standard hustler, slathering on the French pick-up lines that make no sense in English like “Est-ce que tu laver tes pantaloons dans le Windex? Parce-que je peut me voir dans le reflexion!” (Translation: “Did you wash those pants in Windex? ‘Cause I can see myself in them!”) Cute, if you haven’t heard it all before, and most touristas haven’t, so he gets away with murder by flashing his winning smile. He favors black turtleneck sweaters in winter, black V-neck shirts in summer, and khaki chinos all year round. Looks like an angel, but turns into a real devil in the sack.
Maxime. Dark hair, dark eyes, a brooding poet with a penchant for quoting Rilke, he’s a favorite with gothic types. He’s rarely seen without a Moleskine notebook and fountain pen, copying down a few lines of poetry (along with his number) for his chosen prey. He’s full of pithy one-liners as well, but they tend to appeal more to the bookish types, and he’s been known to make love to women atop books of poetry, drunk on the sound of his own voice.
Luc is my favorite of the three. He’s a curly-haired dirty blonde that gives Justin Timberlake a run for his money. Thin and buff, he favors the typical French club gear of leather pants and black mesh shirts, but somehow he pulls it off and still manages to look très sexy despite the cliché. He’s an incredible dancer, and given my uncoordinated ways, I’ve always been impressed by his ability to talk dirty to even the most spastic of women while making them look like liquid sex on the dance floor as he quite literally charms the pants off them. Picture Dirty Dancing in a packed club full of 80s-night ravers and you’re getting warm.
Although these fine gentlemen are paid to entertain women, they’re also straight-up lady-killers in their own right. They may come off a bit cheesy at times, due to their constant hustling, but they’re also oddly sincere. They can’t really help it: they love the ladies, whether they’re paid or freelancing. Which is what makes them perfect for my business, since they’re up for anything, and sometimes even waive their fees.
As they say in New Orleans, these lads like to laissez les bons temps rouler.
When Julie, Kelly, Stacy and I finally make it past Sarah B.‘s green velvet ropes, the boys are already waiting for us in a private booth at the back.
“We hope you don’t mind,” Luc says, “But we ordered a round of their finest.” He kisses Jenny’s hand and she blushes furiously.
“I’ve never had absinthe,” she whispers. “Isn’t it supposed to drive you mad?”
“Mad as a hatter!” Maxime jumps in. He wiggles his eyebrows like Groucho Marx.
“It’s all lies,” Jean-Marc scoffs. “Probably made up by the British to squash our impertinent French desires.”
“Ah yes, the British plot against the French!” I say, feeding his separatist fantasies. “Everyone knows the Brits are a stodgy pack of puritans.”
I wink at the ladies to let them know I’m kidding. They giggle politely.
“But Ms. Parker, isn’t that why America broke away in 1776? To escape the tyranny of the Anglophone empire and their highly taxed tea?” Jean-Marc presses.
“Perhaps they just preferred coffee?” I reply, pinching his right nipple.
“Moi aussi. Tea is for stuffy English grandmothers.”
“So we are agreed: absinthe will not drive you mad. It will only set you free!” he proclaims as the drinks are delivered by a nattily attired waiter.
“Have you drunk absinthe before?” the waiter enquires.
“Bien sûr!” the boys chorus as the ladies shake their heads in counterpoint.
“A brief primer…” the waiter begins, showing them how to layer the special spoon, the sugar cubes and the liquor. He demonstrates and has them each build their own.
The ladies sip their drinks delicately, as the gents watch for their A faces. It’s almost as if they’re watching them orgasm. First the look of astonishment, then the look of sweet, drunken pleasure. The boys clap their hands and shout for more. The waiter shoots me a look of indulgence, and I slip him a twenty.
“Another?” I ask.
“More, more, more!” the boys chant. They toss their own drinks back hastily, as though they must burn through several rounds before they can afford to savor the sugary, licorice taste.
I sip a club soda and vodka, wary of getting hammered with my clients. It’s not something I can afford to do, as a drunken guide is an unreliable narrator, not to mention a danger to herself and her charges. Besides, I’m not here to party; I’m here to serve. I hail cabs, escort women to powder rooms and buzz off over-eager suitors in search of drunken prey carrying far too much American cash.
As the ladies get soused, Jean-Marc, Maxime and Luc make their moves. Soon Jenny and Luc are making out at one end of the booth, Kelly and Jean-Marc are quickly making their way to third base, and Stacy is allowing herself to enjoy the pleasures of Maxime’s hand on her thigh as he recites Leonard Cohen. When I finally catch her eye, I tap my wrist to indicate it’s almost time to make our way to El Greco’s. She whispers something in Maxime’s ear. He grins and looks at me with a questioning glance. I give him a wink. It’s on.
I herd the ladies like drunken, drowsy sheep and manage to get them all to stumble back to the hotel room in once piece. No one vomits, a plus. No one begins crying, another plus. The gentlemen allow the ladies to lean their heavy heads on their shoulders and help to support them as they trip over their own stilettos, and prevent them from wandering out into the crosswalk before speeding cabs.
I love these boys.
Want to learn more about Montréal’s Underground City? My book, Naked Montréal is now available at Amazon! Click here to download your copy now. (NOTE: This title is 18+.)