There are so many cocktail bars in this world, but sometimes one just serves up the right combination of ambiance, conversation and perfect drink to make you want to return over and over. I know I have a few: Harry’s Bar in Venice, The Stafford Hotel’s American Bar in London, Bemelman’s Bar in New York, Alquimico in Cartagena are just a few. I asked a few of my travel blogging colleagues for their favorites, in order to share them with you and to learn where I should go next!
The Lush Guide
- The Cocktail Trading Company in London, United Kingdom
- Rum Doodles Bar in Kathmandu, Nepal
- Le Perchoir Gare de l’Est in Paris, France
- Raines Law Room in New York City, USA
- GŎNG, The Shard in London, United Kingdom
- Sense Rooftop Bar in Sofia, Bulgaria
- 1608 in Quebec City, Canada
- Café Hoppe in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Birretta Bier Bar in Regensburg, Germany
- 5L Speakeasy in Sofia, Bulgaria
The Cocktail Trading Company in London, United Kingdom
One of my favourite cocktail bars is called The Cocktail Trading Company located in the Shoreditch neighbourhood of London. You know there’s something special about it from the moment you walk in and are greeted with the slightly swanky saloon-like atmosphere and friendly welcome from the bartenders. The menu is full of really tasty and creative cocktails, including some classics, each served in a very unique way, with names like Sauvignon Private Ryan and Welcome to Tennessee, Have a Nice Day.
My favourite drink was a cocktail called Royal Mail that was served in a small jar sealed inside an envelope, sitting atop a glass with ice. You can’t get too attached to a drink though, because the menu changes regularly.
The bar itself is cozy, with only about 15 tables in a dimly lit space surrounded by local art and bar memorabilia. The bartenders complete the experience. They’re very knowledgeable about all things cocktail related and can quickly whip you up something special if you don’t fancy a drink from the menu.
Laura Lynch, Savored Sips
Rum Doodles Bar in Kathmandu, Nepal
There’s no better place to celebrate the achievement of a bucket list hike than Rum Doodle Bar in Kathmandu, Nepal. It’s where Everest Climbers such as Edmund Hillary and Reinhold Messner celebrate and commiserated their success and failure. It’s where decades of climbers, trekkers and walkers have come to sink a cold one to the majesty of the Nepalese Himalaya.
It’s where we came on our return from the Everest Base Camp Hike. We celebrated our success with an Everest Beer, a meal with our trekking buddies and hung our bigfoot declaration of our success from the ceiling along with many others.
Sadly Rum Doodles has now moved, following the 2015 earthquake that saw the end of our time in Nepal, but this original bar was the stuff that legends drink in. Let’s hope the new location provides the same atmosphere, experience and thirst quenching cold beers!
Sarah Carter, ASocialNomad
Le Perchoir Gare de l’Est in Paris, France
My favorite bar, when the weather is nice, is Le Perchoir Gare de l’Est. This is a beautiful rooftop bar in Paris, located at Gare de l’Est train station. It has a unique location (on the roof of a historical monument), and a beautiful and contemporary design with different atmospheres. Because space is limited and the security staff controls the access, this is a place which never gets crowded and perfect to relax with your favorite drink after a long day.
Le Perchoir’s main feature is the incredibly beautiful wall-spanning arched window at the entrance, so typical of train stations in the Europe of XIX century. Also, it is nice to see all those sculptures decorating the station’s façade from another point of view. When I go to Le Perchoir I always take a glass of wine but mojitos are also good. Address: 10 Place du 11 Novembre 1918, 75010 Paris. Opened only in spring-summer
By Elisa, World in Paris
Raines Law Room in New York City, USA
There’s a reason that Raines Law Room is our favorite cocktail bar in New York City, and not just because of its historical ties (it’s named after an 1896 law meant to curb New Yorkers’ liquor consumption). Yes, my husband and I had our first ever craft cocktails at this New York City speakeasy, but everything about this place oozes mysterious and sultry vibes. Come for the dim lighting and floor-to-ceiling curtains providing much needed privacy; stay for the divine cocktails and surprisingly seductive bathroom wallpaper (trust us on this). It really is the closest thing we can imagine to being in the 1920s.
We may travel the world in search of the perfect cocktail, but we always return to Raines Law Room. Their classic yet complex drinks never fail to impress us – whether it’s the Lion’s Tail (with bourbon, lime, allspice dram, and Angostura bitters) or the Whiskey Business, which features rye, ancho chile liqueur, lemon, cinnamon, and Angostura bitters.
Julianne Kanter, It’s Five O’Clock Here
GŎNG, The Shard in London, United Kingdom
My favourite bar has to be GŎNG at The Shangri La in The Shard, London. Sitting near the top of one of London’s tallest buildings, the views are nothing short of spectacular… as are the cocktails. As a born and bred Londoner, it’s my go-to place when I want to add a bit of wow factor to the evening (or, ahem, the afternoon).
If you only have time for one cocktail during your London itinerary, GŎNG should be it. Drinks are expensive, but if you’re lucky enough to nab a spot by the window, the sight of London spread out for miles and miles in each direction, would be worth the cost alone. Luckily, they also happen to make a pretty fabulous cocktail too.
Spend a few minutes wrapping your head around the cocktail menu (cocktail tome would be more appropriate), take your pick and get ready for something special. My favourite is the French 75 – a palate-pleasing combination of champagne, lemon juice, gin and sugar syrup. Quaffable in the extreme, I may have had enough to make my head spin and my wallet cry, but it was certainly worth it.
Julianna Barnaby, The Discoveries Of
Sense Rooftop Bar in Sofia, Bulgaria
My favorite bar is Sense Rooftop Bar in Sofia, Bulgaria, It both has great cocktails and the best view in the city. I’ve been there for special occasions, like the night my fiancé proposed (though I didn’t know it yet), Christmas Eve cocktails, and I always bring friends there whenever they visit me. I’m originally from the US, but one of the things I love about Sofia is how accessible it is to have a really amazing time on a small budget. Sense is the perfect example of this, since you’re in one of the fanciest bars with the best location, but the prices are still more than reasonable. Around the holidays, I love their chocolate Christmas-themed cocktails, although in summer I prefer a crisp Bulgarian rose. There are a ton of great bars in Sofia, but Sense Rooftop Bar is by far my favorite. Photo is of the view of Alexander Nevsky Cathedral from the bar – like I said it has the best views in city!
Stephanie Craig, Sofia Adventures
1608 in Quebec City, Canada
The first time I saw a picture of 1608 I knew I had to visit. This high end cocktail bar is located in the famous Fairmont Le Chateau de Frontenac in Quebec City. Named for the year of the city’s founding, this lovely space is full of dark wood, comfortable seating, and artistic lighting. I must also mention that the bar overlooks the St. Laurence river (if possible, try and snag a table by the windows). I visited 1608 twice during my recent trip to Quebec City. The first time I enjoyed a bourbon-based cocktail called Little Wing which was quite tasty. The next visit included my all time favorite cocktail, a Manhattan, and a delicious cheese board. While the prices are high here, the excellent service, unique cocktails and lovely view make it worth every penny.
Wendy Lee, Empty Nesters Hit the Road
Café Hoppe in Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Whenver I’m in Amsterdam I enjoy visiting Café Hoppe to sip a glass of jenever, the Netherlands’ unofficial national spirit. The bar on Spui, a couple of minutes’ walk from the Amsterdam Museum, opened back in 1670 — a year after the death of Rembrandt, the celebrated Golden Age artist. In some senses, stepping inside the bar is like visiting a living museum. A very lively museum — be ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow guests on weekend evenings.
Café Hoppe has wooden barrels behind the bar, an oil painting of gentleman sitting astride a horse and sawdust strewn on the floor. The room in which drinks are poured is typical of a traditional Dutch ‘brown bar’. Some locals suggest such bars are so named because of tobacco smoke that stained the interiors. These days, to comply with anti-smoking regulations, smoking is not permitted.
There’s an array of jenever types served at Café Hoppe. If you like powerful flavours order a barrel-matured oude jenever (old jenever), for a gentler taste, sip jonge jenever (young jenever). If you’re unsure, chat to the bartender, who can offer a wealth of information which drink to choose.
Stuart Forster, Go Eat Do
Birretta Bier Bar in Regensburg, Germany
While it’s more traditional to go to a lovely biergarten and sit beneath chestnut trees as well as being one of the most popular things to do in Bavaria, sometimes it’s nice to find something different every now and then.
What started out as a Craft Beer store called Birretta down along the Danube River near the iconic Stone Bridge in Regensburg, soon expanded to now one of the most popular after work hangouts. The Birretta Bier Bar,deep in an old stone cellar has been built with all re-purposed materials with the bar being made from Maßkrüge (Oktoberfest-size beer glasses) and recycled beer bottles. Chandeliers hang from the ceiling holding beer glasses and the tables made from old beer barrels. Coming here for the kick ass décor is not the only reason for stopping by though. They have over 140 different craft beers with 19 taps selling not only local craft beer but imported ones too to enjoy over good conversation and occasional live music!
You’ll find both a mixture of Germans willing to go against the grain and indulge in the slow but steady arrival of the craft beer scene in Germany, as well as English locals looking to converse over an Indian Pale Ale or Porters which you will hardly find anywhere else, not just in Regensburg but in Bavaria.
Lorelei Sedwick, CaliforniaGlobetrotter
5L Speakeasy in Sofia, Bulgaria
One of my favorite bars in the world is 5L Speakeasy in Sofia, Bulgaria. There are countless great bars in Sofia, many of them hidden away and for those the know to find. Bulgaria’s first speakeasy bar, 5L opened in 2017, and it’s located in a basement that was once used as a bunker during the Cold War. To get there, step off the Main Street to what looks like the door to a residential apartment building. After selecting the right key (the secret of which I won’t divulge here!), you can go down to the lower level which features a full bar where cocktails are made to perfection by passionate mixologists.
In addition to slight spins on the traditional favorites, such as Negronis, Old Fashioneds, and Manhattans, the bartenders also mix their own unique cocktails using distinctly Bulgarian liquors, such as different flavors of rakia (a strong fruit-based spirit made from plums, apricots, grapes, or just about any other fruit). You can select your drink from the menu, which looks like a newspaper, or the way I prefer it, by answering a series of questions from the bartenders. Every time, the bartender has surprised me with exactly the cocktail I wanted but didn’t know I needed in my life!
Alison Green, Sofia Adventures