Discover the best local bars in the best cities in the world, chosen by local experts.
1/31Photograph: Ruel PableoAbu Dhabi, UAE
A jelly Martini: Ray's Bar
Soak up heart-stopping views of the Emirati capital from the 62nd floor of the chic Jumeirah at Etihad Towers hotel. Then soak up a jelly Martini from Ray Bar's lengthy drinks menu – sharp and fruity with little cubes of jelly bobbing about, it packs a potent punch...
Plushly decorated and intimately lit, Ray's Bar exudes Humphrey Bogart white-tux class in a slightly space-age setting. The bartenders are, as you'd expect, a talented bunch, mixing drinks with confidence and flair. You'll find they are more than willing to stir up something bespoke for you – if you engage them in a conversation about your favorite cocktail or preferred flavors. Beyond cocktails, the pop-art styled drinks menu is extensive, offering Champagne, wines and spirits for the less adventurous.
The bar's perch on 62nd floor of the hotel adds to the rarefied atmosphere, and it's perhaps the high-altitude panoramic views of the Arabian Gulf and rapidly evolving Abu Dhabi cityscape that make a jelly Martini at Ray's an essential AD experience. Low lighting lures guests into alcoves and behind velvet drapes while a deep house soundtrack enlivens the ambience at the weekend. Even in a city that values luxury, Ray’s Bar is in a class of its own.— Anna McCormack, sub-editor, Time Out Abu Dhabi
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Ras Al Akhdar, Abu Dhabi, UAE. +971 2 811 5555. www.jumeirah.com.
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A watermelon-strawberry juice: Gentlemen’s Quality Bar Asia
Celebrate a not-quite-bygone age of men's club - it's hard to tell if Almaty's shrine to testosterone is tongue-in-cheek dandyism or genuine throwback. (Possible clue: they serve the best non-alcoholic watermelon-strawberry juice in town…)
One of the most popular and distinctive bars in the Kazakh capital, Gentlemen’s Quality Bar Asia, themed to resemble an old-fashioned men's club, is where male drinkers of refined taste go to exhibit an idealized version of Kazakh manhood - or where, perhaps, women go to laugh at it. Whatever the male-chauvinist-kitsch value, the concept has been elegantly executed throughout, with each of the bar's many nooks and partitions rendered in sumptuous, leathery parlor-room detail.
Meanwhile, the imposing drinks list has been built to impress. The bar serves more than 400 cocktails, with the menu updated on a monthly basis. In autumn, GQB is the place to find warming punches, grogs and mulled wines (recommended is an interesting non-alcoholic version, mixing pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, berry syrup, plus fruits and spices). But, of course, real men prefer the classics – which in Almaty means whiskey. In Gentlemen's Quality Bar Asia you'll find more than 200 varieties. Maybe order one as a chaser with your man-sized watermelon-strawberry juice.—Kseniya Mikhailova, editor-in-chief, Time Out Almaty
Dostyk 248, Almaty, Kazakhstan. +7 727 387 04 03. www.gqb.kz.
Meet Almaty's finest barmen
3/31Amsterdam, the Netherlands
'The Walking Dead': Hiding in Plain Sight
Fearsome cocktail 'The Walking Dead' offers taste of liquid danger in the oldest part of Amsterdam. Based on the potent classic the 'Zombie', HPS’s secret recipe is served (and then set on fire) in a giant glass skull, and features three different types of rums including Bacardi 151. Bar-imposed limit: one per night.
On a corner in the northeastern outskirts of the Jodenbuurt, cocktail gem Hiding in Plain Sight lives up to its name. Upon entry, the small ground-level bar and cramped seating area don’t seem to offer much more than the staff’s smiles. Up a flight of steps, however, luxuriantly louche leather-couch seating puts you on eye level with chalkboards full of chemistry notations above the bar. Flashes of florid wallpaper play backdrop to bookshelves and worn curiosities like an antique radio, pinned butterflies and pocket-watch motifs.
Beautifully turned-out staff members will presently appear bearing free water, massive, fresh green Cerignola olives and mixed nuts, along with a stack of exquisite letterpress-style menus. Although the bar looks fully stocked, aside from a short but respectable list of wines and a €5 bottled beer from Dutch brewer Swinckels, the menu is all about the 16 craft cocktails on offer, ranging from €8 to €16. The €16 price tag is reserved for house specialty 'The Walking Dead', whose cinnamon sprinkles crackle and spark as the drink is set on fire at your table. Racier drinkers will find the concoction goes down a little too smoothly.
Luckily, the rest of the cocktails measure up to the same exacting standards, with house-concocted ingredients like strawberry-infused cachaça (in the 'Morango Fizz', €12) and popcorn-infused rum (the 'Cinema Highball', €8). If the sultry atmosphere has you craving fresh and fizzy, opt for the HPS Mule, an Asian-influenced taste of summer that incorporates vodka, ginger beer, orange and lime juices, house-made syrup and muddled cucumber. Good to know that, whatever the weather, a sip of summer is always at hand in this boozy hideaway.—Elysia Brenner, Time Out Amsterdam
HPS Rapenburg 18, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. +31 20 737 1890. www.hpsamsterdam.com.
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4/31Photograph: George DipinBahrain
Tea: Ahmed Abdul Rahim’s Traditional Coffee Shop
It’s very definitely not all dry here in the Middle East—you can find plenty of bars and nightclubs serving the full range of international bevvies and cocktails, but if you want a taste of the ‘real’ old Bahrain head down to the souq, where you’ll find one of the island’s oldest tea shops.
Ahmed Abdul Rahim’s Traditional Coffee Shop (yes, it’s called a coffee shop but we’re guessing something's lost in translation) is the place to spot old, and some young, Arab men, in traditional dress, whiling away the hours with tiny glass cups of hot sweet tea.It's a great place to sample the local food too – plates of spicy beans and chickpeas – and, if you go early evening, you might just get drawn into a game of backgammon as the tables outside on the pavement fill up and the place comes alive.
Ahmed Abdul Rahim's shop is open 24 hours a day and always busy – we reckon you'll not find a better place for a liquid taste of the authentic Bahrain. But make sure you ask before taking pictures; the staff are fine but some of the customers, not so much. And sorry we can’t give you a phone number – it doesn’t have one!—Liz O’Reilly, editor, Time Out Bahrain
Ahmed Abdul Rahim's Traditional Coffee Shop, Government Avenue Souq, Manama, Bahrain.
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'Vermouth time': Quimet i Quimet
Everyone passing through Barcelona should knock back an afternoon vermouth at the cosmopolitan Quimet i Quimet tapas bar, in the city's Poble Sec district. Vermouth time – usually on Sunday around midday lunch – is a quintessential part of Barcelona’s character.
On Sundays before lunch, the city stops for vermouth. 'Vermouth time' has become a ritual for many youngsters in Barcelona, and it's a lifeline for many thirtysomethings with kids – a sedate pastime of bar-hopping parents whose all-night partying days are sadly behind them. So for many (including, apparently, Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore, who cites it as one of his favorite places in the world), an afternoon at the legendary bodega Quimet i Quimet is an afternoon in heaven.
Here, they craft their own beer, and they serve the best vermouth in the world on tap. They also offer customers a choice of wines that stretches from floor to ceiling. But besides all that, this tiny spot in Poble Sec—along with neighboring Sant Antoni, the up-and-coming hipster area—can justifiably claim to serve the best tinned and jarred food you'll find anywhere, with seafood a speciality. Name the item and they'll have it tinned—and three or four tins translates to a great dining experience. Quimet i Quimet has been owned by the same family going back four generations—not just the quintessential Barcelona drinking experience; more like the quintessential Barcelona anything experience.—Ricard Martín, Food & Drink editor, Time Out Barcelona
Poeta Cabanyes 25, Barcelona, Catalonia. +34 93 44 423 142.
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A jar of Honey Ma Gold beer: Great Leap Brewing
A U.S. brew laced with honey from the Great Wall and peppercorns from distant Sichuan province, Great Leap Brewing’s sweet-yet-fiery Honey Ma Gold is Beijing in a glass: a mix of old Eastern ingredients and modern Western techniques, enormously attractive to hipsters and, thanks to Great Leap’s location, intimately tied to the city’s winding hutong alleys. Plus it’s enormously alcoholic, just like a sizable chunk of the city’s foreign population…
The bustling, souvenir-filled storefronts of Nanluoguxiang have made the street a magnet for tourists from around the world. But push past the glowing façades and into the knot of alleys down Jongying Hutong and you’ll find one of Beijing’s most idiosyncratic—but influential—beery haunts. Opened in 2010, Great Leap Brewing wasn’t the first place in Beijing to offer microbrewed beers in the city, but it did spark a craze for home-brewing that has seen amateur hop-heads crafting ales all over the city.
Not that the pints served up at Great Leap are anything less than professional quality. Whether you’re sipping the sweetly malty Pale Ale #6 or the more bitter Danshan Wheat—made with black tea from Danshan—you’re all but guaranteed high times (and a high ABV). They’re not cheap (the menu declines to list prices for a reason) but these are beers to be savored anyway, not knocked back in a boozy rush. Indeed, such is the bar’s success with ale connoisseurs that founder Carl Setzer has even started hosting "how to brew" classes.
It’s the setting that completes the package, though. Surrounded by 8ft-high walls, dotted with trees and tables and thankfully equipped with a mosquito zapper, Great Leap’s courtyard—located on Doujiao Hutong, down the west end of Jongying Hutong— is a great place to while away the summer. And although it’s a little less inviting in the colder months, the warmly friendly staff (well, save for Setzer, a man who’s in love with beer alone and seems to regard customers as a necessary evil) and comfy couches make the tiny interior space a fine place to hide as it gets colder.—James Wilkinson, editor, Time Out Beijing (English edition)
6 Doujiao Hutong, off Dianmenwai Dajie, Dongcheng, Beijing, China. +86 10 5717 1399. www.greatleapbrewing.com.
Discover the best bars and nightlife in Beijing
Sip on a glass of arak, Lebanon's favourite aniseed aperitif, and experience an age-old Levantine ritual in one of the city's most exciting up-and-coming nightlife spots.
Over the last couple of years, boutiques, art spaces and bars have been sprouting up in Mar Mikhael, making this once down-at-the-heel district an unmissable Beirut destination. For many, this Armenian neighborhood’s charm still lies in its authenticity —a factor the owners of Anise, the newest kid on the block, are keen to preserve. With only a discreet label above the doorbell announcing its presence, Anise feels clandestine and old world. Traditionally tiled floors, floral wallpaper and the natty uniforms of the bartenders (all cousins, by the way) make for a warm welcome and homely atmosphere. Anise’s specialty is, you guessed it, arak—Lebanon’s time-honored elixir. Acquire a taste of Beirut by trying one of the seven regional varieties served in the traditional fashion: with a little water, ice and fresh mint. For an exotic twist, try arak with sharab el toot—the sweet, pink syrup of Lebanon’s mulberry orchards.—John Burns, Nightlife editor, Time Out Beirut
Alexander Flemming Street, Mar Mikhael, Beirut, Lebanon.
Discover the ten best cocktails in Beirut (and where to drink them)
A 'Mangaa': Monkey Bar
Monkeys adorn the walls at Monkey Bar—Bangalore's "first gastropub", where local flavors are combined to make strange but wonderful concoctions. Order the jungle in a glass with their 'Mangaa' vodka cocktail…
There was much chatter when Monkey Bar opened its wide green doors to the public early in 2012. The brainchild of the city’s beloved culinary whiz, Manu Chandra, the place was touted as Bangalore’s first gastropub. On most evenings, it gets raucous fairly quickly—levels of bonhomie at shared tables rise with every round, and the place is unapologetically attached to its rowdy retro playlist.
The bartenders at Monkey Bar are inspired, turning local flavors into imaginative creations in a glass (or, equally likely, in a jar or copper tumbler). There’s the spicier-than-most-can-take it go guava, with vodka, lashings of chili, coriander and mint, and the kokum ginger margarita, a frozen slushie made with tequila, tart local mangosteens, fresh ginger and black salt. We find ourselves going back for the 'Mangaa': raw mango spiked with cumin and a heady splash of vodka.
Monkey Bar goes a long way towards reviving Bangalore's ailing pub culture: it’s a friendly, informal joint that peddles out some kooky, experimental cocktails. Come in wearing what you like, take a seat where you find it, and make sure to make nice with the wizard behind the bar.—Amrita Gupta, assistant editor, Time Out Bengaluru
Monkey Bar 14/1, Wood Street, Bengaluru, India. +91 80 41116878.
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9/31Photograph: Martha WilliamsChicago, USA
A shot of Jepson's Malort (and an Old Style): Rainbo Club
One thing divides real Chicago drinkers from the posers: the ability to put down a shot of Jepson's Malort, Chi-Town's medicinal, locally made booze. (The Old Style, a local beer, is there to cleanse the palate.)
The bittersweet reality of great little dives is that they often lose charm when overrun by masses of clingers-on. Somehow, this Ukrainian Village spot has managed to escape that fate. The Rainbo remains populated by the same mix of art-school students, art-school alums, art-school professors and, um, art-school wannabes, all of whom are in at least one band, and all of whom hold on to terra firma with cans of beer in one hand and a shot in the other, nodding along to everything from Aesop Rock to Black Sabbath.
Of course, sometimes posers do meander in to take a few turns in the photobooth (the pictures can serve as proof later that, no, really, they’re cool!). Here’s an easy way to suss them out: if they can take down a shot of Malort, they’re Chicago enough to stick around. If they can’t, well, there’s a sports bar down the street waiting to serve them a cosmo.—Amy Carr, executive editor, Time Out Chicago
1150 N Damen Ave, Ukrainian Village, Chicago. 773-489-5999
Discover Chicago's hottest bars with Time Out Chicago’s weekly 'bar chart'
Rakomelo: 7 Kleidia
You may not have heard of 'rakomelo', but it's probably more familiar than you realize. "Raki" is a well-known spirit endemic to this part of the Mediterranean, and 'meli' is Greek for "honey"—that should give you some idea of what to expect from this typical Cypriot quaff. It's served hot, in a shot glass, and is the star spirit of a beautiful corner of Cyprus's capital known as 7 Kleidia…
In greek, "kleidia" means "keys"—and the cozy 7 Kleidia redefines the age-old Cypriot institution of the "kafeneio" (the place where our ancestors used to gather and enjoy traditional coffee). If nothing else, you will find the key to relaxation here. It's also the key to the past: the bar's tranquil surroundings—helped enormously by the restrictions on cars in Nicosia's Old Town—will transport you back centuries and give you a sense of what Nicosia used to be.
Designwise, 7 Kleidia's policy is artfully arranged wooded furniture, harmoniously accompanied by some amazing antiques, giving the place a heady authentic character. Aside from the rakomelo and assorted other local spirits and beverages, you can sample platters full of fine national treats. Enjoy cold coffees, beers and nuts or even an ouzo with a plate of octopus. Everything, of course, tastes better with decent prices and the right music, and 7 Kleidia immerses its clientele in a mix of Greek and international alternative music. A large part of 7 Kleidia's winning ambience is down to the owner himself, Mr Fotis; he's never been known to serve a glass of rakomelo (or anything else, for that matter) without a smile on his face.—Michalis Michaelides, Time Out Cyprus
92 Trikoupis Street, Old Nicosia Town, Cyprus. +35 7 22 103 857.
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11/31Photograph: Aditi TailangDelhi, India
An Old Monk rum-and-Coke: Ziro
Eco-chic café-bar Ziro is co-owned by an indie rock band and an environmental NGO, a marriage that produces contemporary cool in New Delhi. It’s always packed with regulars—students, young professionals, and expats—throwing back the bar’s unbelievably inexpensive drinks. And most Delhiites will opt for a classic Old Monk rum-and-Coke, or several.
A relatively recent addition to Hauz Khaz Village, the capital's shabbily vibrant creative quarter, Ziro is the brick-and-mortar version of your bohemian friend who flirts with veganism every six months—but we mean that in a good way. The café-bar is littered with now-common nostalgic touches (a record player, vintage magazines) but justifies them with its full-scale eco-friendly approach: everything, including the furniture, is recycled or previously used. There is a fridge and stove next to the bar in the cozy café space, where the menu changes every day. Old-school Hollywood tunes emanate from the record player, but as you climb the stairs to the rooftop bar, mellow electronica takes over. The rooftop bar itself is spartan, save the fairy-lit old Sprite bottles that line the railings.
The drinks menu is brief but contains everything the discerning Delhi drinker ever really needs: vodka, scotch, beer and a few cocktails. Aside from the ubiquitous Kingfisher beer and the de rigueur rum-and-Cokes, Ziro's green apple martini is one of the better fruity martinis we've had in Delhi: neither overly sweet nor watered down, but tart, fresh and well-balanced. Ziro is a tiny, fashionable and cheap.—Simran Bhalla, Food & Drink editor, Time Out Delhi
24/3 Hauz Khas Village, Delhi, India. +91 11 2656 1268.
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12/31Photograph: George DipinDoha, Qatar
Karak coffee: Chapati & Karak
A national obsession, karak is what happens when Indian chai meets sweet, cardamom-flavoured condensed milk and proceeds to take over an Arabic country. With its multicultural roots, there’s no wonder it’s the must-try beverage in a city that’s (conservatively) 80 per cent expat. Plus, in true Qatar style, they’ll bring it right to your car without you ever having to leave your air-conditioned haven.
Qatar’s officially a dry country, and despite the heat, tea and coffee drinking is a big part of the Arabic tradition of hospitality. And while you can find flashy pubs and exotic mixed drinks (may we suggest the pink grapefruit mojitos at Wahm at the W Doha Hotel & Residences, where the chichi go to get expensively sloshed in the outdoor cabanas on Thursday nights), there’s something charmingly authentic about Chapati & Karak.
Although it’s part of the Katara Cultural Village, a modern facsimile of an old Qatari settlement, this curbside spot keeps it real. There are a few scattered picnic tables outside, but for the full experience you pull up in your car and honk. Paper-hatted waiters will appear and will serve you—what else?—chapati and karak for just slightly more than the price of a bottle of water. You can get out of your car and stroll along the waterfront while sipping the sweet concoction, but hang out near the parking lot and you’ll spot Qataris cruising up and down in their flash cars.
Many drinks could be nominated as "the taste of the city": from lemon mint, a combination of fresh-squeezed lemon juice and fresh mint, to the bullfrog, a potent mix of tequila, gin, rum, vodka, blue Curacao and Red Bull (an expat rite of passage that’s best drunk at a beach party). But while Qatar, like many Gulf countries, has a reputation for its luxurious excess, the real Doha experience is a simple cup of tea, while gentle sea breezes waft off the Arabian Gulf and ostentatious automobiles rev their engines in the background.—Jessica Davey-Quantick, editor, Time Out Doha
West Bay, Doha, Qatar. +974 4408 1408.
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13/31Photograph: Leila CranswickDubai, UAE
A 'Titan Martini': Neos
Dubai is a city known for glitz, glamour, class—and the tallest building in the world—all of which are found at Neos. An exclusive cocktail lounge on the 63rd floor, it offers the best views in town of that true titan in world architecture, the Burj Khalifa.
It takes three elevators to reach Neos, the classy cocktail bar that sits at the dizzying top of The Address Downtown Dubai, the fifth tallest hotel in Dubai (and sixth in the world). There’s not a better place to take in the city’s glittering skyline: Sitting proudly opposite the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and with the Dubai Fountains (yes, the largest in the world) swishing way down below, you could lose hours absorbing the melodrama of the city’s assembled skyscrapers (it’s worth noting the cover of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead adorns the walls). If pushed, we’d say it’s a view that never gets old.
But there’s more to Neos than its vantage. Namely, the drinks. The bar hosts some of the hottest bartenders in town, and there are some daring creations on the list. For ambition and scale to match the view, we'd recommend Neos's 'Titan Martini', a potent mix of Ketel One vodka, Laurent-Perrier Brut NV, mint, lime and agave syrup.
In a city known for tasteless opulence, for lining every surface in sight with Swarovski crystals and leaked bar receipts bigger than the GDP of some nations, Neos has an understated charm. With smooth, dark furnishings, slick service and a house pianist the right side of mellow, Neos is a must for all residents and tourists alike.—Robert Garratt, Nightlife & Music editor, Time Out Dubai
Level 63, The Address Downtown Dubai, Dubai. +971 (0)4 436 7700. www.theaddress.com/en/dining/neos-1
Discover Dubai's top ten bars with a view
14/31Photograph: Michael WeberHong Kong
A 'Red Sky Colour': Sugar
With its commanding city views, Sugar is already proving popular among the Island East business crowd, who have long been starved of decent drinking holes. But it's more than accessible for the hoi polloi as well – and is set to become a popular outcrop on Hong Kong’s drinking scene.
Occupying the entire 32nd floor of the upscale hotel EAST is Sugar, an undeniably cool space that sells itself as a ‘bar + deck + lounge’, with phenomenal views across the city. To the north are the bright lights of Kwun Tong, with the vista swinging uninterrupted to the North Point skyline in the west, and out over the island’s often building-obstructed east. And from the outdoor deck you can see Quarry Bay extend toward Tai Tam Country Park. The bar's interior has been smartly designed to maximise the views. Ottomans and couches flow over three tiers; Sugar feels casual by day, a sexy futuristic capsule saturated with jazzy house beats by night.
The drinking options, as you’d expect from a first-rate hotel bar, are both abundant and excellent, particularly when it comes to cocktails. Unlike many first-rate hotel bars, they're not wincingly expensive. Their 'Forest Sour' (vodka, crème de mure, grapes, lemon, strawberry, maple syrup) is recommended – it's impressively fresh, balanced and distinctive. But for the superlative Hong Kong drinking experience, it has to be the 'Red Sky Colour' (comprising vodka, crème du cassis, rosé wine, raspberry honey, lime and ginger), sipped out on the deck, having raised a subtle toast to the sunset.—Mark Tjhung, editor, Time Out Hong Kong
2/F, EAST Hotel, 29 Tai Koo Shing Road, Hong Kong. +852 3968 3738. www.sugar-hongkong.com.
Discover Hong Kong's 50 best bars
Rakı: Yakup 2
Turks might flirt with other drinks from time to time, but we always come back around to our national drink: rakı. To get a feel for the most authentic rakıtables in Istanbul, head to Yakup 2, a slightly bohemian, slightly seedy meyhane (tavern) in Asmalıescit, where the food is always good and the conversation lasts for hours…
Thanks in part to its ritual and its jargon, rakıhas always been a pillar of Istanbul’s eating and drinking culture. It’s made out of distilled dry grapes, and the moment the clear, aniseed-smelling liquid meets with water, it takes on a cloudy white color—hence its nickname in Turkish of ‘lion’s milk’. It is customarily enjoyed at a dinner table decked out with meze—predominantly white cheese and melon—alongside plenty of conversation.
And in Istanbul, Yakup 2 is the place to partake of all three. The venue's regulars include writers, poets, artists, journalists and, lately, a growing number of young people. What's attracting them is perhaps the place's simplicity—it adheres to the meyhane culture of old Istanbul without any embellishments or fuss. The menu at Yakup 2 is always the same; only the seafood changes depending on the season. Upon seating, you’re presented with a tray of meze so you can choose which ones to order, and—unlike at many of its competitors—everything that arrives at your table is fresh. Our recommendations for meze are the marinated whiting, köpoğu (an Aegean meze that includes cubed eggplant, tomato sauce and garlicky yogurt) and octopus salad, while the must-try warm starters are muska börek (triangular puff pastry with cheese or minced meat) and liver. In keeping with rakıdrinking culture, the music is kept to a very low volume so that trying to converse doesn’t become a chore.—Elif Eren Altıarı, editor, Time Out Istanbul (Turkish edition)
Asmalıescit Sokak 35/37 Tünel, Beyoğu, Istanbul, Turkey. +90 0212 249 29 25.
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16/31Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
An 'Oh Boi': Palate Palette
Blended Calamansi lime juice infused with a jaw-numbingly sour preserved plum – Palate Palette drops in a shot of rum that turns this common KL coffee shop drink into an alcoholic thirst quencher…
A colourful restaurant and bar housed in a colonial-era shophouse, Palate Palette is understated but cool. As its name suggests, it attracts a variegated creative crowd – artists, performers, musicians and the city’s culturati – but it manages to be neither pretentious nor intimidating. The interior complements its artistic inclination with whimsical wall murals, carousel horses and mismatched furniture. The upstairs space often hosts independent film screenings and music events (Palate Palette is one of the very few venues in KL that holds regular dubstep and reggae nights) while its outdoor seating welcomes pets.
Besides serving an inventive food and drinks menu, the bar is a great supporter of the city’s many subcultures, including body art, buskers and the LGBT community. But its big draw is the creativity that goes on behind the counter. If you've anaesthetised your tongue with our 'Oh Boi' recommendation, wake it up again with the fiery cili padi passion martini.—Lim Chee Wah, editor-in-chief, Time Out Kuala Lumpur
1 Jalan Mesui, off Jalan Nagasari, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. +603 2142 2148. www.palatepalette.com.
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A classic martini: The Connaught
‘Skyfall’ reminded everyone how brilliant a drink the martini actually is – a purist combination of smooth English spirit and aromatic French vermouth. But it never went out of fashion at The Connaught – the barmen at this super-luxury London hotel have been mixing them to the highest standard for decades.
The Connaught experience begins on the street outside with Tadao Ando’s shimmering water sculpture on Carlos Place. Glide past the doorman and you’ll be escorted by one of the suited staff to one of the best bars in London, redesigned by the renowned David Collins in 2007. Although the room retains traditional Edwardian features, it’s now atmospherically dusky in deep pastel tones. There's an overwhelming air of opulence, but anyone can walk in to this pleasantly egalitarian bar for a drink – no bookings are taken.
Although the drinks list is a joy, the ultimate Connaught cocktail is the martini. Choose your spirit (Tanqueray 10 is a fine London dry gin), and a barman with trolley will attend your table with an ice-filled crystal decanter in which to mix the martini in front of you. A wooden display case of apothecary-style glass bottles hold a selection of homemade bitters – licorice, grapefruit, lavender, for example – which add intriguing notes to the concoction. It’s expensive, of course (around £15), but service is impeccable whether you’re A-list or no-list, and it’s good value – a martini in The Connaught is an accessible taste of sophistication unmatched in the city.—Euan Ferguson, deputy chief sub-editor, Time Out London
Carlos Place, London, UK. +44 (0)20 7499 7070. www.the-connaught.co.uk.
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18/31Los Angeles, USA
A 'Sazerac Fix': Pour Vous
The 'Sazerac' is thought to be the oldest American cocktail, first blended in the mid-1800s when California was in its infancy. And at Melrose Avenue's Pour Vous bar, a heady mix of belle epoque Paris and golden-age Hollywood, it's conjured up using rye whiskey, lemon, bitters, pastis, evaporated cane, classic burlesque and a host of special effects...
An evening at Pour Vous is an immersion in sepia-toned, jazz-age Parisian salon – it's also one of the classiest cocktail outings in Tinseltown. Bring a date and grab a seat near the fireplace before 10pm when the place gets packed. It’ll soon be standing room only when unexpectedly a burlesque bewitching hour descends (literally) upon the crowd.
Reservations are encouraged but not necessary for a small group dressed in proper 'cocktail attire' which is the only way you're getting in. Dress code is enforced, the details of which (no T-shirts, hoodies, baseball hats, sneakers) are posted on their site and reiterated on a plaque at the entrance. Inside, blue and amber theatrical lighting illuminate various corners of a parlor-style room. The central fixture is a cozy fireplace that gives way to circular, café seating under a dome that could be construed as a miniature version of the Grand Palais.
An exemplary team of mixologists may surprise you with an aperitif not on the menu, such as 'Floc de Gascogne', a vin de liqueur fortified with Armagnac ($10). The cocktail list is simplified to feature tried-and-true staples (including our tip, the classic-with-a-twist 'Sazerac Fix' for $12) and some ingeniously experimental concoctions. The beautiful and the damned should try 'Le Samourai' ($14), a deadly mix of Armagnac, framboise, rhubarb and umami.—Jonathan Cristaldi, Time Out Los Angeles
5574 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA. +1 323 871 8699. www.pourvousla.com.
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19/31Photograph: Graham DenholmMelbourne, Australia
An 'Americano': Bar Americano
In a city of hidden-behind-a-dumpster small bars, where coffee and classic cocktails rule, sipping an Americano (Campari and sweet vermouth with a splash of soda) in a standing-room-only cocktail-cum-espresso bar is Melbourne in a bonsai nutshell.
Well, damned if this isn't the sharpest tiny bar Melbourne's ever seen. There are three seats at the bar (there’s no room for any more) and about enough space for ten more people who don't use their elbows much to squash in and lean against the slender wooden ledge that runs the room. First come, first served; no exceptions. There's a toilet, but only just, and you get the feeling that if they could've added a couple of extra metres to the room and had people relieve themselves outside Barcelona-style, it would've happened.
But we digress. Bar Americano, if you can get in, is Melbourne’s definitive small bar. A proper Italian-style joint, where you can get an Americano (as in a long black), an 'Americano' (as in the aforementioned cocktail) and an 'Old Pal' (that's rye, sweet vermouth and Campari in the international language of tasty drinks). The short cocktail list is displayed on a felt pinboard, complete with vintage white lettering.
It's a beautiful, tiny place with black-and-white tiles on the floor, lots of polished wood and an idiosyncratic back bar on which the bartenders refuse to stock vodka. Go late or go early and don't take your mum – this one's for the staunch of heart who don't mind the wait in a full bar. —Myffy Rigby, Food & Drink editor, Time Out Australia
20 Presgrave Place, Melbourne, Australia. +61 (0)3 9428 0055. www.baramericano.com.
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20/31Mexico City, Mexico
Pulque: Expendio de Pulques Finos los Insurgentes
Drink like the Aztecs with a measure of Mexico's indigenous grog, pulque – the milky fermented sap of the maguey plant. Mesoamericans in this part of the world considered it sacred, and you will too if you order it at Expendio de Pulques Finos los Insurgentes.
The bar may be a bit of a mouthful (locals condense it to la Pulcata), but it's an eclectic and kitsch place. It is a magnet for all sorts of people in the Roma Norte district at the heart of our huge capital. Preppy types resplendent in sports-casual, office clerks, dandy hipsters, tourists and students with their backpacks: all find their natural niche somewhere in this fiercely egalitarian establishment's three floors plus terrace. Aside from the pictures of musicians, the decor speaks of a shrine to local booze: there are maps of the Mexican Republic where that other sacred plant grows, the mezcal-providing agave, alongside painted legends and proverbs about pulque consumption.
And as you'd expect from this level of devotion, la Pulcata's attention to authentic detail is impressive – which is what makes it our top recommendation for the full pulque experience. Here the 'agua de las verdes matas' (water of the green plants) is served au naturale or in curados (flavored varieties) with, for example, oats, prickly pear or cherry, in half-, one- or two-litre jars. More than enough to drown your sorrows, get you chatting or get you dancing, depending on your initial state of mind.
If the viscosity, smell and taste of pulque are not your thing (they're not everyone's), the bar also lays on its house mezcal, and mezcal creams in an abundance of flavours, along with beers, spirits and wines: 'El que a este mundo vino y no toma vino, ¿a qué chingados vino?' asks the winelist ('Whoever who came to this world and don’t drink wine, why the fuck did they come?'). A very good question.
A word of warning, though: don't get so drunk that you forget about the anti-theft system – unless a waitress gives you a ticket to prove at the exit that your bill has been paid, they don't let you leave. No bad thing.—Paola del Castillo, Time Out México
Insurgentes sur 226, Roma, México, DF. www.lapulqueria.org.
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A Long Island iced tea: Dome
Dome lets you watch one of the world’s great metropolises in action: cars whizzing along a dazzling necklace of streetlights, waves crashing against the tetrapods, a panoramic view of skyscrapers and art deco apartment blocks. Why a Long Island iced tea? Because the beer is a lousy deal...
Few bars have the power to make you feel like a star. Sipping on a drink on a summer evening, dazzled by the brilliant white decor, surrounded by a city slowly illuminating itself as the light fails is an experience as spectacular the 50th time as the first. The venue's aqua-blue swimming pool at your toes, the sexy red rotunda bar and the decadant loungers can't hurt either. Patrons reclining, practically lying down, on their beds and sofas creates the ultimate mesh of Goan hedonism and urban sophistication. An evening at Dome is all your supermodel-Ferrari-Moët fantasies come alive at once, even if you’re drinking a pint of Kingfisher.
A word of advice, though: at 350 INR (4.80 euros), the beer is a lousy deal. The Long Island iced tea, priced at 1,200 INR (16.70 euros), is very long indeed, and the equivalent, both in terms of potency and the amount of time it takes to polish off, of at least three lesser drinks. If you’re lucky, you might visit on a day when a cricket match is scheduled at the Wankhede Stadium nearby, and the lunatic cheering of the crowd, the distant traffic on the street below, and the post-industrial magic of the sun setting into the smog, make Dome one of the most perfect bar experiences Mumbai has to offer.—Leo Mirani, Time Out Mumbai
The InterContinental Marine Drive, 135 Marine Drive, Churchgate, Mumbai, India. +91 22 6639 9999.
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22/31Photograph: Caroline Voagen NelsonNew York, USA
A 'Gin-Gin Mule': the Pegu Club
Booze hounds can toss back a Manhattan at any bar on the planet these days. For a true New York tipple, swing by Audrey Saunders’s world-renowned Pegu Club and order a 'Gin-Gin Mule' —a vivacious elixir of homemade ginger beer with Tanqueray gin, fresh mint and lime juice. The contemporary classic helped usher in Gotham’s gin revival, along with America’s craft cocktail rebirth, and sips just as fine today.
The far-reaching influence of New York's reigning queen of cocktails, Audrey Saunders, is hard to measure. Her storied drinks den, the swank Pegu Club, begat many of New York's current bar-scene standard-bearers, including Death & Company, PDT and Mayahuel.
When the pioneering spot opened in 2005— with 27 gins on the back bar and a cadre of pro drinks-slingers—the city was awash with vodka, cheap mixers and careless bartenders. Back then only hideaway joints like Milk & Honey offered artfully made tipples to a select few drinkers. It was Saunders who broke open the world of serious mixology to the masses with her capacious 90-seat lounge, accessible to any passers-by via a carpeted candlelit staircase.
In that second-floor sanctum, a long maple bar doubles as a stage for nimble bartenders, armed with hand-cracked ice, rare spirits and scholarly drinks knowledge. Perch there and choose from mighty classics (the namesake 'Pegu Club' cocktail) or signature quaffs (the zippy 'Gin-Gin Mule').
Even as young bucks churn out new hot spots around town, the legendary bar has kept its edge, maintaining a rigorous level of quality little seen elsewhere and even evolving over the years—rock and roll now breaks up the swing-era jazz soundtrack. It’s a deft blend of throwback craftsmanship with just the right amount of novelty: Welcome to New York boozing in the modern age.—Mari Uyehara, Food & Drink editor, Time Out New York
77 West Houston Street, New York, USA. +1 212 473 7348. www.peguclub.com.
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A fine Bordeaux: Le Baron Rouge
A glass of wine at a Parisian bar is an enduring classic; do it in style with a 1989 Château Angélus from Saint Emilion. Aged in oak barrels in one of the most prestigious vineyards of Bordeaux, it’s a rare and precious bottle—and Le Baron Rouge is one of the few wine bars where you’ll find it.
A superb little wine bar just around the corner from the Aligre market, Le Baron Rouge often welcomes hungry refugees at stall closing time. It’s no pompous den for snooty oenophiles, but rather an amiably down-to-earth working-class hangout, where drinking is a pleasure and the evening is to be enjoyed, often raucously. The tiny room is welcoming and atmospheric, its walls invisible behind rows and rows of bottles, and any spare space filled with wine barrels stacked from floor to ceiling. Those in the know bring their empties to refill—it’s cheaper than buying a new bottle, though you can do that as well, from an excellent selection. During the week, beware the crowded after-work apéro hour—along with pretty much everybody else, you’ll be stuck with drinking on the pavement outside. Food-wise, come on Sundays for oysters with Sancerre, or stick to a charcuterie board accompanied by a good robust red.—Camille Griffoulieres, Music & Nightlife editor, Time Out Paris
1 rue Théophile Roussel, 12th arrondissement, Paris, France. +33 (0)1 43 43 14 32.
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24/31Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Pinga: Bar do Gomez
Head to Rio's old colonial town for an artisanal pinga—Brazil's national drink, better known as cachaça—served by a friendly bunch who have been doing precisely that for years at Bar do Gomez. For 100 years, in fact, give or take a few...
Santa Teresa is one of the last bastions of old-world Rio. Amid beautiful, crumbling architecture, Gomez is the perfect spot for a considered nip of Brazil’s oldest drink, pinga, aka cachaça. The fiery warmth is also the perfect antidote to the ice-cold bottles of Original beer being served by the dozen.
Founded in 1919, the inimitable Bar do Gomez began life as a Spanish migrant's grocery store (hence its other name, Armazem São Thiago) and retains its idiosyncratic charms to this day, with jars of ancient-looking olives and tinned foods still lining the shelves above the bar.
Gomez has run the bar for years (though presumably not since 1919), making it a dependable local staple attracting toothless characters, dogs chasing cars at the crossroads and a gaggle of locals in various stages of inebriation. Deep-fried bolinhos (cod balls) and pasteis (shrimp pies) come highly recommended, washed down with a great chope (cold draft beer) and more than 60 types of cachaça. Emitting an authentic rough-and-ready charm, this is the essential Santa Teresa experience. —Doug Gray, editor, Time Out Rio de Janeiro
Rua Áurea 26, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. +55 21 2232 0822.
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25/31São Paulo, Brazil
Join born-and-bred paulistanos kerbside, for creative caipirinhas at this low-key local favorite. Bar Veloso is where locals come for classic Brazilian snacks that fuel long, laid-back nights of drinking, grazing and chatting.
Less than 50 feet from one of the traffic-choked arteries that keep São Paulo's seven-million-strong fleet of cars slowly circulating, you'll find a quiet residential street. Rua Conceição Veloso is home to one of the city's best-loved botecos—the low-key bars at the heart of our democratic food-and-drink culture. In the not-quite-sleepy suburb of Vila Mariana, Veloso is no secret: the bar's dozen or so tables squeezed into its compact, brightly lit interior are always packed, so expect to wait for a seat, or else join the throng—a casually attired crowd of all ages and all social strata—standing, chatting and grazing on the pavement outside. Waiters in white shirts and bow ties glide through the crowds with carefully balanced trays of chope—small glasses of ice-cold draft beer.
The real draw, though, is Veloso's caipirinhas. The classic Brazilian concoction of cachaça, sugar, lime and ice is given an injection of São Paulo's creative spirit with weird and wonderful fruit combinations, such as cashew fruit and lime; star fruit and basil; lime with ginger; and our favorite, tangerine with chilli. To eat? The bolinho de camarão cremoso—a big, juicy prawn, covered in creamy Catupiry cheese and manioc mash, and deep-fried—will complete your São Paulo sensory induction.—Catherine Balston, deputy editor, Time Out São Paulo
Rua Conceição Veloso 56, Vila Mariana, São Paulo, Brazil. +55 11 5572 0254. www.velosobar.com.br.
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A 'Shaoxing Cavalry': Yuan
A landmark new opening and a major stride forward in Shanghai’s surging drinks scene, Yuan is an experimental cocktail bar at the forefront of a new chapter in the city’s drinking culture. A night out in Shanghai these days feels more Chinese with bars relying less on foreign talent and imported tastes, instead nurturing a bright new wave of homegrown bartenders and locally derived concoctions...
George Nemec is a well-known Shanghai-based bartender who is widely credited as one of the early architects of the city’s drinks scene. In an interview in 2011 he told Time Out Shanghai his ultimate goal was to see Shanghai’s bar culture more self-sufficient and less reliant on foreign talent – either Western or Japanese – who are behind many of the better bars in town. ‘The ideal scenario,’ he said, ‘is to eventually have Chinese bar owners, employing Chinese bar managers, mentoring Chinese bartenders, serving cocktails to Chinese drinkers’.
In many ways, Yuan is that ideal scenario realised. Behind the bar is an all-Chinese line-up of bartending talent, including local legend Ted He and fast-rising up-and-comer Jerry Chen, the winner of the inaugural Time Out Shanghai-Cointreau Cocktail Shakedown competition in 2012. Yuan is also one of the first bars in town to successfully riff classics with Chinese ingredients to render cocktails that are actually drinkable. One of the signatures here is the Shaoxing Cavalry. Essentially a reimagining of the Manhattan, Chivas 12 Scotch replaces bourbon and is tempered with wolfberry-infused Shaoxing rice wine (a stand-in for sweet vermouth), balanced with orange bitters and served in old-style Qing Dynasty pottery and tops the list of one of the most inventive, Sino-centric cocktail menus in town.—Alexander Barlow, deputy editor, Time Out Shanghai (English edition)
17-2 Xiangyang Bei Lu, Jingan district, Shanghai, China. +86 21 6433 0538.
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A 'Singapore Sour': Loof
Tourists may charge to Raffles Hotel to venerate the Singapore Sling, but for a slightly less 19th-century, more up-to-date Singapore drinking experience, head for an a la carte cocktail at a rooftop bar. Following a recent renovation, Loof has re-emerged as one of the leaders of the year-round alfresco trend, thanks to a locally inspired list of cocktails and some of the best bar bites you’ll find in Singapore…
Atop the Odeon Towers in Singapore’s downtown CBD, the revamped Loof bills itself as Singapore’s first standalone rooftop bar. The name references the idiosyncrasies of local culture (particularly Singlish), and in its new incarnation, the bar turns the spotlight on local flavors. There’s a strong menu of South-East Asian-driven food and cocktails, conducive of a fun and relaxed atmosphere—great for a post-work tipple and a chance to sit back and enjoy an excellent view of the surrounding area (Loof overlook Raffles Hotel, birthplace of the original Singapore Sling).
Among the bespoke drink choices, created by Loof manager Aaron Tan and local mixologist Ken Loon, our local hero is the 'Singapore Sour', one of their 'Asian Sensations', featuring calamansi juice, vodka, soda and a sour plum syrup—plus an actual sour plum dropped into the mix. It manages to pull off sour, salty, sweet and refreshing all at once—perfect for the open-air tropical weather and one of the few drinks in town to utilize the sour plum, found in supermarkets all around town.—Berwin Song, editor, Time Out Singapore
Third Floor, Odeon Towers, 331 North Bridge Road, Singapore. +65 6338 8035. www.loof.com.sg.
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28/31Photograph: Daniel BoudSydney, Australia
'Irish Handcuffs': Baxter Inn
The best cocktails at Baxter Inn may be their 'Negroni' on tap, their 'Salty Dog' or their 'Old Pal' but if you want a true Sydney experience in a quintessentially Sydney bar, you order a local beer and a whisky chaser. Or, as we like to call it, 'Irish Handcuffs'. Yep, it’s harder to get away from our convict history than you think—especially when it tastes so deliciously of the 365 top-shelf whiskies on offer at this hideaway basement bar...
That queue of people rolling out of a dark, nondescript laneway on Clarence Street is for Baxter Inn—a candlelit basement bar with thick carpet, jazz and blues and toilets that have some of the best acoustics in town. It’s kind of modeled on an old-school American Irish sports bar, only with no sport and much better whisky.
We’re not kidding about those acoustics, by the way—the tiled-and-wood-paneled bathrooms are each equipped with their own PA. They sound so good and are so nice, we’re almost tempted to set up camp in there. There are tables and chairs dotted around the room (which takes around 140 drinkers) as well as little rests lining the brick pillars for your drinks, but it’s all about stalking around the bar. Cocktails are reliably awesome but not the focus here. There’s a short list at the front of the book, with some of our favorites ('South Sides', 'Americanos', 'Tommy’s Margaritas', 'Gibsons'...) and the guys will make you just about anything you’d want to ask for. There is beer on tap and Negronis, too. Hot damn! Be sure to stay until close, when the bell rings and things get crazy.— Myffy Rigby, Food & Drink editor, Time Out Australia
156 Clarence Street, Sydney, Australia.
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29/31Tel Aviv, Israel
A Manhattan: Lucifer
Tel Aviv drinkers are serious drinkers. And you can't get much more serious than a bar called Lucifer. The atmosphere is aimed at diabolical fun but the drinks are heaven— especially the reinforced Manhattans, served with a devilish smile…
Every time you step inside Lucifer Bar in Tel Aviv, you feel you're making some kind of unwise Faustian pact. At first glimpse, the place seems fairly ordinary, but there's something about it that makes you want to act bad. Maybe it’s the music (which might hop between, for example, Black Grape, Television and LCD Soundsystem). Maybe it’s the crowd, which is always a nice mixture of journalists, artists and musicians turning to drink. Maybe it's the food, which surprises you with its spiciness; the hot bartender who buys you a shot each time you buy one for yourself and never lets you leave on steady feet; or the CCTV monitor, which you can't help staring at as it relays what's going on the street outside.
But what to drink? At Lucifer Bar, it has to be their Manhattan. The red vermouth and the bitters are traditional, but the plot thickens with the whiskey and bourbon—the default choice is Jim Beam Black Label. The fact that it usually comes in double portions doesn’t hurt either (until the following day).
So, on reflection, maybe that feeling of dark supernatural forces at work comes from the fact that all your memories from Lucifer are distant fragments, as if they’ve never really happened—all you really know is that you want to live them again.—Niv Hadas, deputy editor, Time Out Tel Aviv
97 Allenby Street, Tel Aviv, Israel. +972 (0)3 685 1666.
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30/31Photograph: James HadfieldTokyo, Japan
Hoppy and shochu: Fujiya Honten
Exquisite cocktails, ultra-rare whiskies, miso beer—Tokyo is a tantalizing destination for any booze geek. But for an introduction to the city's salaryman drinking culture, this retro standing bar in Shibuya is the place to go.
There's never much risk of running up an outrageous tab at Fujiya Honten. Customers at this basement standing bar—a venerable boozer that was established more than 130 years ago—simply plonk down the amount of money they've budgeted for the night, and the staff deduct from it accordingly as each order arrives. It's an old-fashioned practice that seems to have died out at other, less honest drinking establishments around town, but very much in keeping with the retro vibe here.
Join the salarymen crowded around the open kitchen, bathe in the aroma of the deep-fat fryer and start off with a round of draft beer—at ¥450 (4.20 euros), one of the priciest things on the menu—before moving on to something stronger. While sophisticates might prefer some nihonshu, the most popular option is shochu liquor, sold in 360ml bottles with a choice of mixers. Opt for Hoppy, an old-school beer substitute that's come back in vogue with the office-worker sect recently, and which makes for a crisp, refreshing DIY cocktail.—James Hadfield, editor, Time Out Tokyo (English edition)
B1F, 2-3 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan. +81 (0)3 3461 2128.
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Rajika: Cica Bar
The Cica Bar is the stand-out place on Tkalčićeva, Zagreb's endless pedestrianised drinking strip. It's also the best spot in town to sample Croatia's favourite local liquor, rajika – a variation on grappa or ouzo. Here it's served in a variety of flavours, try 'medica' (honey) or 'orahovica' (walnut), and like its fellow Mediterranean aperitifs, you'll need a throat of steel to enjoy it...
Cica Bar, a slightly sunken 'graperia, cafeteria and galleria', is the most underground place you'll find on the Tkalčićeva strip. The interior undergoes radical changes every year or so and has the appearance of an art installation rather than a café-bar. For instance, 2011's gothic bathroom look with ceramic sinks serving as tables was replaced with a long table that looks like a space shuttle and emits an enigmatic blue glow. Skeletal black chairs look like instruments of torture but are strangely comfortable.
Outdoors, a scattering of tables on both sides of the street is insufficient to cope on summer evenings, when it's standing-room only both inside and out. Otherwise, Cica's main claim to fame is the long menu of house rakijas or brandies, which stretches to blueberry, honey, nut, fig and aniseed alongside the more common šljivovica (plum) and tavarica (mixed herb) varieties.—Jonathan Bousfield, Time Out Zagreb
Tkalčićeva 18, Zagreb, Croatia.
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