Get us in your inbox

Bisou in Paris
Photograph: ThatsronanBisou in Paris

The 28 coolest bars in the world right now

Join us in raising a glass to the world's hottest watering holes – from Paris to Cape Town to Chicago

Morgan Olsen
Edited by
Morgan Olsen
Written by
Time Out editors
Advertising

What makes a bar cool? Is it the magnetic vibes, the curated playlist, the next-level cocktail menu or the jaw-dropping design details? For us, it's all of the above – and then some. The world's coolest bars go above and beyond the call of duty. They're welcoming community spaces that highlight local talent and flavors. They're experts at their craft, but they aren't pretentious about it. They turn out mind-blowing drinks that have us asking, 'What's in this one again?' 

Simply put, they're the kind of places that you can't wait to tell your friends about. And in 2021, we found that some of the coolest bars in the world are also some of the kindest to our planet – whether they're sourcing ingredients from local makers or repurposing food scraps into tasty cocktail ingredients. Just take a look at what's happening behind the bar at Penicillin in Hong Kong (No. 15) or Zest in Seoul (No. 23). 

So, how'd we curate the list? We enlisted the help of clued-in Time Out editors, bartenders and experts from around the globe to wax poetic about the coolest bar in their city. They delivered with wanderlust-inducing picks that'll send you bar-hopping from Paris to Hong Kong to Los Angeles (if only virtually for now). It's just one way we're raising a glass to bars around the world this month.

Looking for the perfect pairing? Dig into the best new restaurants in the world.

The world’s coolest bars

  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

All aboard! This 70-seat bar – designed to emulate a conservatory with tiny terrariums and mirrors flooded with natural light – gets its name from the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts, who sailed on the ship called Argo in search of the Golden Fleece. Inspired by the tale of journey and discovery, the namesake bar aims to serve as a vessel for innovation and challenge the way we think about drinks, highlighting novel spirits including the world’s first AI-created gin and a lab-made whiskey. The cocktail menu – titled ‘Here Today, Gone Tomorrow’ – spotlights six staple ingredients facing an uncertain future because of climate change: coffee, honey, rice, cacao, vanilla and apples.—Tatum Ancheta, editor of Time Out Hong Kong

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Hong Kong

https://d32dbz94xv1iru.cloudfront.net/customer_photos/8a92ae77-254a-4cc3-a1f6-d59c41f737a6.jpg
Tatum Ancheta
Editor-in-Chief, Time Out Hong Kong
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars

The ‘bless your heart’ tile entryway promises warm hospitality on the edge of Historic Filipinotown and Echo Park, and this Southern-inspired bar delivers in every possible way. Thunderbolt is the kind of place where you can sink into a leather sofa over an on-point playlist or chat with friends at a picnic table on the pupper-friendly patio – both best enjoyed over the P-Town Boxing Club, an ode to the nabe made with pandan and coconut-washed rye. On the food front, the Southern-meets-Filipino menu comes from the BBQ aces behind next door’s the Park’s Finest, so you can soak up all of that rum and bourbon with some tamari-glazed chicken lollipops, biscuits and a seasonal cobbler. Thunderbolt opened only a few months before… you know. But it’s managed to find ways to keep things fresh ever since, be it through smashburger and noodle pop-ups, an izakaya takeover or an AAPI fundraiser.—Michael Juliano, editor of Time Out Los Angeles

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Los Angeles

Advertising
  • Bars and pubs
  • Collingwood

A wine bar and digital radio station operated out of a creative arts precinct housed inside a defunct school – it doesn’t get more Melbourne than that. Nestled within the Collingwood Yards community, Hope St Radio is helmed by power duo (and vino-loving friends, naturally) Pete Baxter and Jack Shaw. The bar and radio station headquarters aims to bring people together over a mutual adoration of local musicians, produce and natural wine. Punters can expect Melbourne DJs mixing vinyl throughout the night; expansive outdoor communal tables and fire pits; a 60-strong wine list highlighting the best of the new-age natty stuff; and a seasonal, Italian-leaning menu helmed by chef Ellie Bouhadana. Everything you need for an epic night out.—Rushani Epa, Food & Drink editor of Time Out Melbourne

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Melbourne

  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Le Marais
  • price 2 of 4

Situated in one of Paris’s coolest nabes, Bisou will catch your eye and lure you in, thanks to its pastel-pink storefront. Once inside, you’ll find smiling servers, an R&B-heavy playlist and not a menu in sight. That's because the bartenders behind the marble countertop take care of everything upon request, whipping up bespoke cocktails for your every whim. Want something fruity but not too sweet with a hint of glitter? Done! Craving something dark and boozy to set the mood? Coming right up. Beyond flattering your taste buds with exquisite sippers, Bisou is committed to an eco-friendly approach with 100 percent French organic seasonal products. Cheers to that!—Houssine Bouchama, editor of Time Out Paris

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Paris

https://d32dbz94xv1iru.cloudfront.net/customer_photos/4f9aa895-b787-449f-b3b9-f8e299bed18e.jpg
Houssine Bouchama
Rédacteur en chef, Time Out Paris
Advertising
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars

For famed mixologist Luca Corradini, bartending is an artform – and Mariposa Negra is his gallery. In a workshop above the bar, he creates his own custom ceramic glassware designed to optimize the drinking experience. Downstairs, he’s distilling some of the spirits himself (including a must-try orange liquor). All of this would just amount to primo marketing material if the drinks weren’t next-level amazing. You won’t find any gimmicks or Willy Wonka-esque drinking devices here – just 20 signature cocktails that are balanced and imaginative. Start with the namesake Gimlet, crafted with a delicately refreshing cordial made in-house.—Ricard Martin, Food & Drink editor of Time Out Barcelona

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Barcelona

A quick jaunt up a black-lit wormhole of a staircase will deliver you to Milky Way’s galaxy. With its jungle terrarium skylight and vaporwave accents, this surreal bar specializes in the unexpected, keeping guests guessing at every turn. Milky Way’s arrival on Montreal’s scene is the latest in a hot streak from the Barroco Group, a hospitality cohort that’s equal parts cool and kind. The drinks here are out of this world, with cocktails (and mocktails!) that sport curious ingredients, like a champagne reduction and toasted sesame oil. No matter what you’re sipping on, a menu of homemade pizzas and pastas will bring you back down to earth before it’s time to close out your tab.—JP Karwacki, editor of Time Out Montreal

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Montreal

https://media.timeout.com/images/105817993/image.jpg
JP Karwacki
Editor, Time Out Montreal
Advertising

Cape Town is brimming with amazing bars, but when it comes to pure coolness, nothing compares to The House of Machines, an upmarket dive with serious biker vibes. Its wide, metal-topped bar and unpretentious stools beckon, while its indoor-outdoor flow onto Shortmarket Street makes it all too easy to while away an evening with an Old Fashioned in hand. Mostly, though, it’s the staff that makes this place feel like a second home – especially head bartender Charné van Heerden and bouncer Alex Duru. The House is a special place, much adored by loyal regulars who inevitably become friends.Leah van Deventer, drinks writer, educator and consultant in Cape Town

  • Bars and pubs
  • Chelsea

When the pandemic hit and bars were forced to take it outside, we wondered what would become of NYC’s coziest underground speakeasies. Reassurance came in the form of La Noxe, which transformed 600 square feet of the 28th Street subway station into a cocktail lounge with room for no more than 35 imbibers. (Have you ever heard of anything more quintessentially New York?) To enter, locate and ring a discrete buzzer on 7th Avenue and descend the staircase into a rich, sumptuous drinking den unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Once you’ve sipped a gin-based Kiss & Tell cocktail or a tequila-infused Continental, you’ll slip out the back door and right into the MTA.—Amber Sutherland-Namako, Food & Drink editor of Time Out New York

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in NYC

https://media.timeout.com/images/105817978/image.jpg
Amber Sutherland-Namako
Food & Drink Editor, Time Out New York
Advertising
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cedofeita

To passersby, it’s just an old 19th century chapel. And when you step inside, you’ll realize it is indeed a place of worship – but to Bacchus, the god of wine. This vino bar’s beautifully restored interior is painted red and anchored by an opulent wood altar that’s often adorned with flowers and candles. Overheard, gold chandeliers hang from the original wood-planked ceiling. You might be tempted to take your glass of wine to the serene patio, but who could resist letting your eye wander in a bar like this?Time Out Porto editors

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Porto

  • Bars and pubs

The elephant in the room? Minority culture is still largely underrepresented in the bar scene. So this local drinking hole hopes to shine the spotlight on Little India in Singapore – one of the country’s most colourful and vibrant districts. The space, fronted by mix master Yugnes Susela, is unlike any other out there. It is a personal ode to his Indian heritage – one where he distills the sights, sounds and memories of growing up in the historic neighbourhood into novel concoctions. The menu boasts some 14 cocktails, each rich in spices and history if you’re willing to listen.—Fabian Loo, Food & Drink editor of Time Out Singapore

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Singapore

Advertising
  • Bars and pubs
  • Hackney Wick
  • price 2 of 4

The UK’s first dedicated tank bar takes inspiration from the way that the Czech Republic has traditionally served beers – by pumping fresh unfiltered, unpasteurised hoppy goodness direct from the source and into glasses. The first thing thirsty hopheads will notice at this converted Victorian warehouse beer hall is a row of ten colossal shiny silver tanks featuring an ever-changing range of bold, characterful, uncompromised beers with bags of flavour. They’ve recently expanded their covered outdoor seating area to fit in more sunny pints with mates and takeaway cans and growlers are also available to take home.—Angela Hui, Food & Drink writer of Time Out London

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in London

https://media.timeout.com/images/105819646/image.jpg
Angela Hui
Food & Drink Writer, Time Out London
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Sydney
  • price 2 of 4

If there wasn’t a hulking bodyguard out the front checking IDs, you might never find Double Deuce Lounge, a ’70s ‘porno chic’ cocktail bar from the same team that dreamed up Ramblin’ Rascal, located just around the corner. The intimate lounge is outfitted with blood-red leather booths, wood paneling and a handful of perfectly placed mirrors. The crew, too, look every bit the part – rocking bowling shirts, booty shorts, tennis socks and slick quiffs, all too eager to hand you a VHS case with a risqué cover that turns out to be the drinks menu. Spring for a dealer’s choice and let the bar team work its magic.—Elizabeth McDonald, Food & Drink editor of Time Out Sydney

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Sydney

https://media.timeout.com/images/105818048/image.jpg
Elizabeth McDonald
Food and drink editor, Time Out Sydney
Advertising

Best known for its show-stopping Japanese fare (hello, beautiful, buttery black cod), this globetrotting big-hitter is a star the world over. In Dubai, its outpost is in the gastronomic hub that is DIFC – and you’re absolutely missing a trick if you don’t stop into the bar for a post-lunch, pre-dinner, any-time-you-like drink. There’s a cute outdoor terrace and a lively bar area, which is always buzzing. The drinks menu is impressive, while the innovative cocktail list has Japanese twists at every turn (think yuzu tonic and rhubarb-infused sake). Service is as slick, and it’s a bar that draws in accolades from around the world, so whether you’re a resident or visitor, it’s one to firmly plant on your next-night-out radar.—Amy Mathieson, managing editor of Time Out Dubai

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Dubai

How’s this for cool? El Copitas is an agave-fueled speakeasy hidden below the bustling city streets of St Petersburg. But wait, that’s not all – guests are invited to belly up at a massive communal table to enjoy a cast of cocktails that’s swapped out week after week. Once your eyes have adjusted to the dark basement bar and you’ve downed your complimentary cup of tequila, locate the blackboard menu to peruse a list of specialty drinks and plot out which tacos you’ll order after a few rounds.—Alyona Kovalchuk, head bartender of Tagliatella Caffe

Advertising
  • Bars and pubs
  • Central

Bar buffs will recognize Agung Prabowo and Roman Ghale as the founders of Hong Kong heavy-hitter The Old Man, consistently named one of Asia’s best bars. The duo is back at it with Penicillin, which prides itself on being the first eco-conscious bar in Hong Kong. True to its name, this new drinking den aims to shake up the bar industry in the same way that the antibiotic revolutionised the world of medicine back in the 1940s. The cocktail menu focuses on locally sourced, upcycled ingredients that remain loyal to the flavours of Hong Kong. By creating drinks with a ‘closed-loop’ promise, the bartenders here are curing your everyday cocktail cravings and solving some of the industry’s biggest sustainability quandaries.—Tatum Ancheta, editor of Time Out Hong Kong

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Hong Kong

https://d32dbz94xv1iru.cloudfront.net/customer_photos/8a92ae77-254a-4cc3-a1f6-d59c41f737a6.jpg
Tatum Ancheta
Editor-in-Chief, Time Out Hong Kong
  • Bars and pubs
  • Gastropubs
  • Downtown
  • price 1 of 4

This sliver of a bar in downtown Miami proves that good things are worth the wait. Over Under took about three years to open and, once it did, the timing was still a bit of an issue: The city wouldn’t get to meet it for a few more months, at the height of a global health crisis. Over the past year, Over Under has operated as a takeout-only spot, introduced streetside seating (which owners Brian Griffiths and Lenny Rodrigues, chef James McNeal, and their buddies built themselves), given brunch a whirl and pivoted mightily as often as these weird times called for. With each shift, the irreverent Florida-inspired bar held onto its sense of humor, reliably poking fun at its muse with its kitschy thrift decor, a rotating list of ‘worst coast classic’ cocktails and unmatched tropi-cool vibes.—Virginia Gil, editor of Time Out Miami

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Miami

https://media.timeout.com/images/105820378/image.jpg
Virginia Gil
Editor, Time Out Miami
Advertising

The Portuguese word ‘tesouro’ translates to treasure, an apt name for this jewel of a drinking den in South Goa helmed by renowned barmen Arijit Bose and Pankaj Balachandran. The energy level here is always cranked up to a 10 – and the creativity behind the bar is just as exciting. To see that ingenuity in action, order a round of Midnight Brekkies – a gin-based drink that mixes bianco vermouth, peanut butter, strawberry compote and watermelon for a mind-bending play on a classic peanut butter and jelly. The chow goes above and beyond your average bar food, too, with seabass in beurre blanc, hummus with chouriço oil and the hangover-curing beef and shiitake stew over warm, buttery mashed potatoes.—Yangdup Lama, co-owner of Sidecar in New Delhi

While Istanbul’s historic Cihangir neighborhood has lost some of its coolest tenants to the greener grass of Kadıköy in recent years, it still counts the likes of Orhan Pamuk and Nuri Bilge Ceylan amongst its residents and is home to Istanbul’s coolest hangouts. By day, Cihangir’s Geyik is a third-wave café offering coffee from El Salvador to Honduras, and by night, it’s one of the finest cocktail bars in town. If you’re early (or lucky), you might just be able to snag a cosy seat inside the brick-walled and wood-paneled bar, but then standing elbow-to-elbow alongside a cast of regulars out on the curb outside is half the fun. Once you’ve sipped your way through a round of Geyik’s signature cocktails, try their take on classics like the Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour, with the latter being our favourite of its kind in the city.—Deniz Huysal, editor of Time Out Istanbul

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Istanbul

Advertising

Piano is a tale of two bars: Come summer, the verdant patio pulses with insatiable energy; but when the weather turns, guests happily cozy up inside the ancient castle cellar. No matter the season, you’ll start by padding your belly with an assortment of sushi rolls – all of which are made using hyper-local ingredients (the parmigiana is a must, with fried eggplant, tomato pesto, mozzarella and basil). The bar’s decor and drink menu work in tandem and often revolve around a theme. The bartenders here go all out, using the latest toys and technology to craft interactive cocktails that engage and delight.—Camilla Bosatelli, bartender at Iter in Milan

When it comes to melding old and new, no bar does it quite like The Bellwood, a timeless Tokyo watering hole inspired by the kissaten (old-school Japanese coffee shops) of the early 1900s. Many of the cocktails here – dreamed up by founder and head bartender Atsushi Suzuki – are a twist on kissaten coffee and tea beverages. So instead of your run-of-the-mill espresso martinis, you’ll find playful tipples like the Udabura made with barrel-aged rum, café con leche and sesame, or the Genmai Truffle Sazerac with shochu, truffle and raw honey. Before your visit, it’s worth booking a session at the bar’s private backroom – a space reserved for experimental pop-up events that range from blind cocktail pairings to modern omakase sushi.—Emma Steen, writer for Time Out Tokyo

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Tokyo

Advertising

Blending style and substance, Casa Prunes is shaking up zero-waste cocktails inside a remodeled 1920s home that’s dripping with art deco style. Like hanging at an uber-cool friend’s house, no two rooms are the same, allowing for a unique drinking experience with every visit. And thanks to Casa Prunes’s artisan fermentation program (aka the beverage laboratory), every drink is wildly unique, too. The seasonal Fantasma, for instance, blends oolong tea-infused rum with kumquat liqueur, beet shrub, raspberry vinegar and barley water foam. Whether you’re geeking out about the mind-blowing cocktails or the Instagram-friendly photo opps, there’s something for everyone at Casa Prunes.—Andrea Vázquez, Food & Drink editor of Time Out Mexico City

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Mexico City

Bambino in Paris
  • Bars and pubs
  • Wine bars

It seems fitting that Paris’s godfather of pizza has opened a bar that specializes in natural wines and turntable beats, creating the ultimate holy trinity. Fabien Lombardi (Faggio Osteria, Pizzeria and Salumeria) has accounted for every last detail – including the brushed concrete bar, the stacks of records behind it and those beautiful speakers that crank out Deniece Williams and Moodymann into the wee hours of the morning. After a few glasses of the bubbly stuff, order a roasted chicken sandwich and get comfy with one of the cocktails on tap – a just-right Negroni should do the trick.—Houssine Bouchama, editor of Time Out Paris

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Paris

https://d32dbz94xv1iru.cloudfront.net/customer_photos/4f9aa895-b787-449f-b3b9-f8e299bed18e.jpg
Houssine Bouchama
Rédacteur en chef, Time Out Paris
Advertising

The word ‘zest’ has several meanings – it can refer to energetic enthusiasm or the outer peel of a citrus fruit that’s used for flavoring. In certain circles, it’s also an abbreviation for the zero-waste movement. All of these definitions are relevant when you’re talking about Zest, a new-ish bar in Seoul that’s bridging sustainability and fine drinking culture one cocktail at a time. Bar vets Demie Kim, Sean Woo, Jisu Park and Noah Kwon are wildly enthusiastic about every last detail – from the minimalist bar and one-of-a-kind furniture to upcycling ingredients like cooked rice, carrots and fennel.—Keith Motsi, head bartender of Charles H. at the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul

  • Bars and pubs
  • Wine bars

For wine lovers, Berria is the eighth Natural Wonder of the World – a posh playground for swirling, sniffing, sipping and savoring to your heart’s content. The jaw-dropping tasting room is lined with hundreds of bottles that practically beg you to explore the massive menu of more than 70 wines by the glass, a list that’s constantly changing. Feeling overwhelmed? All of the servers here are trained sommeliers who are eager to make the perfect recommendation; lean on them to lead you to something new. As soon as your visit is over, you’ll want to start plotting your return – if only to experience the picturesque terrace, situated just in front of the Puerta de Alcalá.—Gorka Elorrieta, Food & Drink editor of Time Out Madrid

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Madrid

Advertising
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars

Drink-savvy Bostonians know that the best bar around town isn’t in town at all – it’s just a Red Line ride away, over in Somerville. Backbar has built up quite the reputation for slinging creative, meticulously crafted cocktails to guests who gather within its quaint and quirky Union Square nook. A certain degree of local knowledge is needed to actually find your way to this spot (its entrance is tucked away in a parking lot, back behind a bunch of nearby restaurants), which only adds to its allure. While Backbar may be discreetly located, it’s by no means striving for exclusivity; it maintains a welcoming atmosphere, and its ever-changing menu of delicious drinks is refined but highly accessible, often peppered with nostalgic references to pop culture favorites like Seinfeld and Star Wars.—Olivia Vanni, Food & Culture editor of Time Out Boston

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Boston

  • Nightlife
  • Coffeeshops

Two new neighbouring bars opened in Lisbon this year: Bar Mais Triste de Cidade (the saddest bar in the city) and Lulu, um Pub Bonito (a beautiful pub). If the theme of the former is melancholy – with whiskey-washed nights by the piano – the latter is all about fun. More specifically, it’s an ode to ‘ladies, women, girls and everyone else who likes them.’ The bar even serves signature tipples that honor the greats, including Jane Fonda, Cindy Lauper and namesake Louise (Lulu) Brooks. Soon enough, there’ll be room for a DJ-equipped dance floor so that everyone can bust a move while crooning along to tracks by their favorite songstress.—Vera Moura, editor of Time Out Lisbon

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Lisbon

Vera Moura
Directora, Time Out Lisboa
Advertising
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • South Lawndale

A glowing neon chihuahua sign at the back of Moreno’s Liquors in Little Village marks the ‘secret’ entrance to this agave-focused speakeasy. Named after owner Mike Moreno Jr.’s dog, Osito’s Tap boasts a cocktail menu packed with tequila and mezcal concoctions that go well beyond your typical margarita, thanks to ingredients like chili ancho syrup and mazapan candy. The imposing wooden bar, exposed brick wall and cozy wrap-around booths make this place feel like a long-running Chicago institution (though it opened in 2019), and a small menu of Mexican dishes as well as events like a weekly cumbia DJ night make it a destination for more than drinking.—Zach Long, editor of Time Out Chicago

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in Chicago

https://media.timeout.com/images/105800431/image.jpg
Zach Long
Editor, Time Out Chicago
  • Bars and pubs
  • Wine bars
  • Peckham
  • price 2 of 4

Wine by name, wine by nature. Forza offers a solid natural-filled vino list alongside a simple, light Italian food menu that’s designed with sharing in mind. The Peckham rooftop wine bar sits pretty on top of the Market building on Rye Lane, which is home to unbeatable views of the capital. Opt for something low-intervention and robust and pair it with a grilled flatbread or some fried chicken. For dessert? A frozen Negroni or two. If the weather’s about to turn, fret not, there’s a pretty snug indoor set-up, too.—Angela Hui, Food & Drink writer of Time Out London

🍹 Discover more of the best bars in London

https://media.timeout.com/images/105819646/image.jpg
Angela Hui
Food & Drink Writer, Time Out London

Still thirsty?

  • Bars and pubs

The only thing better than sipping a cocktail in the sun is sipping a cocktail in the sun high above the city streets. The best rooftop bars in the world specialize in jaw-dropping vistas, great drinks and undeniably chill vibes. They're the kind of places that double as undercover attractions because they offer a bird's-eye view of notable architecture, must-see landmarks and everyday city life.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising