31 Favourite Bars
This is a bit of an apples and oranges list, but I thought I should summarise my drinking adventures not least to say thank you to the various bartenders who looked after me in such fine style on my recent world travels.
It’s a mix of cocktail and beer places – most wine bars I ate in so they got their own dedicated review – and the order in no way correlates to how drunk I got in the bars mentioned. Not at all. Nope.
1. Doar Bros – Charleston, South Carolina
Doar Brothers had been open for all of two weeks when I arrived in Charleston. Frankly, they couldn’t have timed it better. I spent three of my four nights in town there, including an outstanding Sunday night when the Benedictine sour – amongst many other whatnots – was unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It was my favourite bar from the trip.
2. Duello, Los Angeles, California
My visit to Duello was one of the highlights of my odyssey as it was so great to see Kaiko Tulloch in her new habitat and sample the new drinks list curated by Iain McPherson. My visit also afforded my first (and hopefully last) taste of Malört.
3. Licoreria Limantour, Mexico City, Mexico
I only had time for a quick pre-dinner stop at Limantour by it was arguably the funnest hour of my trip. I drank a couple of excellent house cocktails and knocked back perhaps a little too much mezcal.
4. Hawthorne Lounge, Wellington, New Zealand
Hawthorne Lounge was my regular haunt during time in Wellington. Whilst there I sampled some excellent drinks in highly convivial circumstances.
5. The Everleigh, Melbourne, Australia
The Everleigh was probably my favourite bar in Melbourne. Drinks were highly creative and service was spot-on.
6. Above Board, Melbourne, Australia
I only had time for one drink at Above Board but as with the seating in this compact nirvana, quantity was not the point. Owner Hayden is an absolute diamond and his bar is a joy to spend time in.
7. Attaboy, NYC, New York
My friend Helen and I had an absolutely magic evening in Attaboy. Serving probably the best drinks of my trip in a signature speakeasy space, this is a must-visit when next you’re in NYC.
8. Little Red Door, Paris, France
A place of myth and legend with no small Auld Alliance influence in recent years, it was great to finally cross the threshold of this splendid Paris institution.
9. Floreria Atlantico, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Famously located downstairs through a florst shop, Atlantico served me a couple of excellent pre-dinner drinks in their simple and elegant barset-up. I wish I’d found it earlier in my time in Buenos Aires.
10. Mix & Malt, Seoul, South Korea
One of the many highlights of my time in Seoul, it was a moment of great Scottish national pride to hear the bartenders talk so knowledgeably about single malt whisky in this highly enjoyable bar eatery.
11. L’Antiquaire, Lyon, France
L’Antiquaire matches a very classic interior with a menu of modern classics. They made me the best London Calling I’ve had in a good long while. I was there each night of my stay in Lyon.
12. Jigger’s Noble Drugstore, Ghent, Belgium
I’d been to Jigger’s on my last trip to Ghent and really enjoyed it, so it was great to renew acquaintances.
13. Black Pearl, Melbourne, Australia
Black Pearl is a veritable Melbourne institution having been lauded as the best bar in the country on countless occasions. I had a number of highly pleasing visits with their Manhattan probably the best I sampled in the city.
14. Dok Brewing Company, Gent, Belgium
Dok’s brewery tap is an absolute monster and one of the most impressive places I’ve stopped for a beer on this or any trip. Their selection, including their core range, across some 30 taps is absolutely outstanding.
15. Preachers, Hobart, Tasmania
Preachers was such a joyful and cosy craft beer bar to visit on a very clear and chilly Hobart night. They showcased excellent local brews across a superb tap and tin selection.
16. The Rogue and Vagabond, Wellington, New Zealand
Under the stewardship of Hanging Bat alum Calum Carmichael, The Rogue and Vagabond is a great place for craft beer in the heart of Wellington. With one of the few good spots for al fresco drinking, it’s a popular spot on the occasional days when it’s not blowing a gale in the New Zealand capital.
17. Hanging Ditch, Wellington, New Zealand
Hanging Ditch was another highlight of my drinking time in Wellington. With their bottles suspended on bungee cords from the ceiling, their bar has a highly distinctive look. Their drinks list is every bit as memorable.
18. 1806, Melbourne, Australia
I had a couple of fantastic evenings in 1806, a high calibre cocktail bar in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD. A top bar crew looked after me in fine style throughout my time there.
19. Pinch, Milan, Italy
There are certain bars that you walk in to and instantly know that they would be your regular haunt if this was your town of habitation. Pinch is one of those. I only sampled a couple of quick negronis but the welcome was warm, service quick and the drinks excellent.
20. Le Syndicat, Paris, France
Showcasing a back bar of solely French spirits and liquers, Le Syndicat is one of those bars where the approach is fairly simple and classic but the results feel completely fresh and innovative. It’s just a really lovely place to spend an evening.
21. Bad Frankie, Melbourne, Australia
Bad Frankie showcases a back bar of entirely Australian wares. I had a lot of fun exploring all their wonders. I left highly impressed.
22. Saison, Richmond, Virginia
Saison is a really top-notch craft beer bar and eatery in downtown, Richmond VA. I sampled a couple of excelleny local brews during the very enjoyable dinner I had there on a very chilly Wednesday.
23. Deadshot, Auckland, New Zealand
Deadshot provided me with an excellent and entirely unexpected joyful post-dinner interlude after the lovely folks at Auckland’s Orphans Kitchen – just across the road – recommended it.
24. Saint John’s, Launceston, Tasmania
Launceston on Tasmania was one of the more unexpected stops on my trip. Not only did I have a couple of very good meals there, I was lucky enough to have time for a few bevvies at Saint John’s, a really good craft beer bar with some great drinks across a stellar draught and bottle selection.
25. MAG Cafe, Milan, Italy
Another quick negroni stop was the beautifully compact MAG Cafe, just along the canal in Navigli from Pinch. Their Negroni del Marinaio was absolutely splendid. I must return for a lengthier stop on my next trip.
26. Gin Palace, Melbourne, Australia
Gin Palace is an absolute gin-lovers paradise. Their menu of different varieties runs into the hundreds and they are all served with care and style.
27. Here’s Looking at You, Los Angeles, California
Here’s Looking at You would probably list itself as a restaurant and indeed I enjoyed some very good food there, but it was its impressive cocktail list that left the biggest impression. With tiki drinks to the fore, this is a place to add to your list next time you’re in the city of angels.
28. BRLO, Berlin, Germany
BRLO Brewhouse was an early stop in the heady summer days back in Berlin. Although I was stung by a wasp in their eer garden, I had an otherwise very enjoyable visit quaffing a few good ales in the early evening sunshine.
29. Observatory at The Langham, Sydney, Australia
I was lucky enough to be staying at The Langham in Sydney on the opening weekend of the new Observatory Bar. It served me a couple of highly creative cocktails in very stylish surroundings.
30. Zlatna Ribica, Sarajevo, Bosnia
Zlatna Ribica was all old-world charm in Sarajevo’s snow-clad city centre. I stopped there solely for a pre-dinner G&T but could easily have lingered there all evening surrounded by vintage knick-knacks and antique whatnots.
31. Amor y Amarga, NYC, New York
A specialist in amaros, vermouths and digestifs, Amor y Amarga is an absolute New York jewel of a place. We only had time to stop in for one quick drink but it was truly excellent in this compact and cosy place.