Best bars in Munich
The Goldene Bar at the Haus der Kunst museum is lovely inside and out, but particularly glorious in summer, when the terrace enjoys truly golden sundowner rays, as well as the occasional surfer heading up from the Eisbachwelle for a beer. Inside, the gilded wall maps are 1937 originals showing the origins of wines, spirits and tobacco around the world. Shimmering beneath the gorgeous modernist chandelier, they lend the interior a luxurious atmosphere, but it’s the relaxed, mixed crowd that makes the Goldene Bar such a favourite. Chief bartender Klaus St. Rainer is a particular fan of gin, which you’ll find in the signature Haus der Kunst cocktail (Tanqueray gin, Perrier Jouet champagne, lemon, sugar, gin and tonic foam, and Campari dust). A tip: every first Thursday of the month, the adjoining Haus der Kunst art museum has free entry from 6pm to 10pm, so you can enjoy some culture with your cocktails.
In case you haven’t heard, German gin is a big deal these days, and Zephyr has a top selection, ranging from the local Duke Munich Dry Gin to Monkey 47 Schwarzwald, which boasts a whopping 47 infused botanicals from Germany’s Black Forest. With a deliberately stripped-back décor, this hit hangout near the River Isar saves the art for the cocktails themselves – and for the stunning cornucopia of fresh ingredients behind the bar. The menu changes regularly but never fails to delight with concoctions such as Hot but Cold 13 (Tanqueray gin, galangal, coconut, sesame, mango, green chilli). Zephyr is like a beautiful, trippy botanical garden, and nearly always packed. (If things get too busy, take a breather at the idiosyncratic Flushing Meadows Hotel around the corner; it has one of Munich’s best rooftop bars, with great views over Kirche St. Maximilian towards the Alps.)
It’s strictly stirred, not shaken at Bar Garçon, a neat little newcomer between Gärtnerplatz and Viktualienmarkt. Proprietor Mario trained as an architect and has brought his creative flair to much of the bar’s pared-down interior, including building the marble and wood bar. The bar is small, with predominantly stooling (though snag the coveted window seat if you can) and a fun, easy-going atmosphere. The tunes are disco and soul, and the menu is leather bound and laid-back, with exquisite variations on classics like the Negroni or Manhattan and homemade syrups and juices. There’s a good selection of wines, too. Note that true to many smaller German establishments, Bar Garçon is cash only.
Taking inspiration from ‘classic American cocktail bars and Southern-style juke joints’, Zum Wolf is more speakeasy than Bavarian beer cellar. Lit in a red glow, this modest bar is a popular spot for revellers in Glockenbach, a trendy quarter home to a sizeable LGBTQ+ community. Most of the spirits on offer are imported from Kentucky and Tennessee, while the cocktail list is succinct but full of delights. A few beers and wines are also available, while the soundtrack spans soul and blues from the ’50s and ’60s.
Charles Schumann is an institution not only in Munich but across Germany. By far the country’s most famous bartender, the suave 78-year old has also modelled for Comme des Garçons and Yamamoto, has produced cult tomes on mixology, and is the star of a recent documentary. His Odeonsplatz establishment has a handy location right by the Hofgarten and includes the main Schumann’s Bar (which transitions from restaurant to drinking hotspot around midnight) as well as the smaller Camparino next door, and the intimate Fleurs du Mal on the first floor. Each promises an excellent line-up of classic cocktails and an interior as smooth and elegant as the eponymous owner, from the wood finishes to the meticulously placed bottles of Campari. A bar renowned as an old-school journalist and artist hub, Schumann’s is packed with everyone from seasoned locals to schickimicki (read: snobby) party groups. Arrive earlier rather than later, or book a table so you can segue seamlessly from dinner to dirty Martini. Never want to leave? The illustrated Schumann’s Bar book includes some 500 cocktail recipes for you to bring Schumann’s style home.
Another recent addition to the Munich bar scene, The High has won a crowd of loyalists with its hip-hop beats, casual yet connoisseur crew and top-quality cocktails. Co-proprietor André started out at the acclaimed Zephyr Bar and has kept up the experimental mixology, bringing his know-how to such playful, fruity-and-kick combos as the Purple Haze (Gosling’s, falernum, rhubarb, cherry, lime and mate). The interior channels ’80s Miami and come rain, shine or thick winter snow, the aesthetic is pure sun and saturation: tropical plants, striped paper straws and drinks as orange and pink as a ride down Ocean Drive.
The Bayersicher Hof is one of Germany’s most prestigious hotels. And in its Roof Terrace and Blue Spa Bar (across the sixth and seventh floors) it offers arguably the best bar views of the Munich cityscape. As befitting a top-notch hotel, a speciality here is the champagne breakfast, but there are also fabulous lunches, dinners and barbecues. The terrace is a great place to relax with a Bavarian beer, a fine wine or one of an array of cocktails (preferably after you’ve taken a swim in the pool). Locals and visitors alike head to the Bayerischer Hof for its range of bars and restaurants: Palais Keller serves Bavarian beer and the ground-floor Falk’s Bar, a survivor from war-time bombings, specialises in cocktails, including a range of champagne concoctions.
If you fancy combining drinks with some live music or provocative ideas, check out the programme at Glockenbachwerkstatt, an exemplary community centre, crèche and kindergarten by day and one of the most interesting Munich hotspots by night. The café and bar space hosts events almost every evening, from poetry slams to blues nights to roundtables on gender marketing. Don’t expect fancy cocktails here – this is more of a no-frills and big-smiles Kneipe (pub) vibe. In summer, the Glockenbach’s beer garden is also open, creating a relaxed city-centre refuge from 5pm to 10pm. If you happen to be in Munich for a longer stretch, check out the Glockenbach’s excellent programme of courses ranging from African drumming to DIY bike care.
The thought of being surrounded by 7,000 other guests may seem daunting, but it makes for one hell of an atmosphere. Plonked slap bang in the centre of the Englischer Garten, four square kilometres of rolling green hills and trees, Chinesischer Turm invites everybody to drink and dine in their ultimate beer garden. Visitors can combine a drink with a trip round the park’s neoclassical Monopteros (a small Greek temple open to the public) before nabbing a spot by the 18th-century wooden pagoda. Try the Stecklerfisch (grilled fish on a stick) and Schweinshaxn (roasted pork knuckle) while you’re there. Open from May to September.
‘Ella’ was the pet name Wassily Kandinsky gave to his friend and fellow artist Gabriele Münter, and this stylish ground-floor bar and restaurant in the 2013-opened wing of the Lenbachhaus Museum is the perfect spot for a pre- or post-Expressionism tipple. Once you’ve ticked off the world-class Blue Rider collection upstairs, kick back with a spritz at the luminous onyx bar or on the spacious terrace and enjoy top-notch views onto Munich’s neo-classical Königsplatz. The Norman Foster-designed space is all about light and warmth, with generous windows, blonde wood flooring and wall paintings by Munich-born artist Thomas Demand. While the museum’s collection focuses on German modernism, Ella’s quality wines have a German, French and Italian focus, while dishes put fresh twists on Italian classics.
Another Munich institution, the Augustiner-Keller has been pouring foaming ales since 1812 and continues to win numerous awards for its fine Bavarian tradition and cuisine. There’s outdoor seating for 5,000 beneath the garden’s glorious chestnut trees, and plenty of warm interior rooms for colder days, including the atmospheric, vaulted-ceiling ‘keller’. The beer is stored in and served directly from giant wooden barrels and – Achtung! – is available in one-litre steins only. The noisy crowds can be a little daunting for first-timers, but just find a spot at one of the communal tables and you’ll soon be chinking glasses long into the night. Not sure what to order? Go with the Augustiner helles, a crisp, light lager and a classic Munich beer.
Neoclassical columns stretching up towards arched ceilings, tiled floors and large, inviting tables set the scene for a visit to the Pfälzer Residenz Weinstube. Located in the former royal residence complex of buildings bang in the city centre, this wine bar-restaurant is as grand as they come. Nevertheless, with space for 450 it’s actually more relaxed than first appears, and is equally appealing to both the wine connoisseur and casual guest. The 60,000 bottles in its cellars come from Germany’s Palatinate region (Pfalz, once part of Bavaria), which you can pair with simple meals ranging from bread and cheese to the region’s traditional Flammkuchen, a thin bread covered with crème fraîche, small chunks of bacon and onions baked in the onion.