Germany's third largest city beautifully combines traditional Bavarian grandeur with a modern pace of life and a thriving 21st century economy, as well as being rich culturally and artistically. From a culinary perspective this might be the home of the white sausage but the clean, clean streets are also transformed during Oktoberfest, arguably the world's largest celebration of beer.
Happily this leafy, green city in the shadow of the Alps also has a sophisticated cocktail circuit serving grown-up drinks to demanding drinkers, with bartenders the latest manifestation of German efficiency. You can walk between most of the bars covered here, though the city's fleet of Mercedes taxis will speed you between those that are at the outer reaches or jump on the user-friendly U-bahn. Notably Munich's bars boast truly what arguably might be called the world's finest collection of menus - perfect bound, hard-backed or glossy magazine style, often heavy with historical references, these are real works of art that entertain, educate and truly showcase each bar's expertise - putting laser printed drinks lists to shame.
Address: Theresienstrasse 93, D-80333, Munich, Germany.
Tel: +49 (0)89 5201 2924
Type: Cocktail bar
The Martini Club might look a little seedy from the outside, a little like a dive bar perhaps, but X, as the story goes, marks the spot: here a large red one above the door heralds the entrance to a not-so-secret speakeasy.
The club is a tribute to the American speakeasies that sprung up during Prohibition, and the dark interior is decorated with scenes from the roaring 20s. The menu, presented as a glossy magazine, that contains a detailed history of Prohibition and paints a picture of the corruption, police raids and clandestine drinking dens that characterized the era. That aside, the rest of the interior modern, geometric furniture and lighting.
A long bar runs along most of one wall, then a beaded curtain separates a restaurant area. In hot weather there are plenty of tables outside. The drinks list is voluminous, listing all the classics, mixed efficiently and served stylishly, though modern classics are popular too - on ladies' night (Wednesdays if you are wondering) they get through 50 litres of Cosmopolitans, and they line them up behind the bar ready to be served. We stuck to classic stirred drinks and were impressed. 4/5
Address: Kardinal-Faulhaber-Strasse 11, 80333, Munich, Germany.
Tel: +49 (0)89 2080 2180
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am-1am; Sun 3pm-1am
Type: Restaurant bar
The name might conjure up visions of a modern coffee chain, but the white-uniformed bartenders at Barista are rather more adept in mixing classic cocktails than hot drinks in this brasserie-style bar and restaurant.
Located close to the city centre, surrounded by large grand buildings, Barista is a refined but characterful sort of place, with drinks transported around the place on silver trays. From beneath 25-foot ceilings, behind a curvy bar that seats 10, and to a soundtrack of light jazz, bartenders make drinks with Germanic precision, selecting bottles from a seven-deep display of select spirits behind them. A beautiful perfect-bound cocktail menu presents drinks by category, and a good choice of simple mixed drinks with a minimum number of ingredients - all are reasonably priced at between â‚¬7 and â‚¬8. We picked a simple sherry and vermouth combination and then were served up a memorable Waldorf Astoria Eggnog.
Expect everyone from solo drinkers to groups of businessmen celebrating deals, old couples having dinner and friends meeting for early evening drinks - this place seems to appeal to a wide cross-section of Munich-ites, though somehow the football being screened on the wall-mounted plasma seemed rather incongruous. 4/5
Address: Hartmannstrasse 8 , Munich, Germany
Tel: 00 49 (0)89 22 72 16
Hours: Mon-Thurs: 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat: 5pm-3am
Type: Cocktail bar
Just down the road from Munich's ongoing Michael Jackson memorial at Promenadeplatz (no, us either!), Bar Tabacco's wood-panelled surroundings might suggest some kind of stuffy gentlemen's club, but this is in fact a lively joint. With the Bavarian smoking ban, there's little evidence of tobacco anymore, though you can easily picture this well-proportioned, dimly lit room with a layer of smoke floating across it.
From our experience most diners were not drinking cocktails - choosing wine or beer - but they are missing a trick as the hard-back menu contains a sophisticated selection of drinks, presented with each one's historical precedent. A large selection of spirits are crammed over five shelves, with a monumental whisky collection that extends along the whole of the long back-bar's top shelf. Cocktails are freepoured with precision, using lovely big, fat ice cubes and artistic garnishes - couple that with chatty bartenders who aren't afraid to give their opinion on what you're drinking, and it makes for a stimulating drinking experience. 4/5
Address: Odeonsplatz 6+7, 80539, Munich
Tel: +49 (0)89 22 90 60
Hours: Mon-Fri 8am-3am; Sat-Sun 6pm-3am
Type: All-day bar and restaurant
The main home of Charles Schumann, Munich's most revered bar owner, cocktail book author, and male model, this large multi-faceted venue is open for breakfast and coffee right through lunch and cocktails, dinner and late night drinks, and boasts two bars, (one big, one small), a prominent pavement seating area and a large garden out back. It's busy at all times of day - arguably the most consistently popular place in Munich.
Charles is here most of the time and his personality runs through the whole venue, from its drinks to its staff and its menu. During busy evenings he is either cooking or working the room, but come by in the day and he might just knock you up a classic cocktail. His love of Campari is in evidence through the long line of bottles displayed on the top shelf of the back-bar, and Campari drinks head the 60-page menu ahead of a good range of classic cocktails and a few modern classics. In addition, Charles' intrigue with all things Japanese is articulated in two pages of sake-based cocktails, though again these focus on simple serves. The menu also showcases Charles' range of books and his glassware. 4.5/5
Address: The Haus der Kunst, Prince Regent Street 1, 80538 Munich.
Tel: +49 (0)89 54 804 777
Type: Cocktail bar
Located in the Haus der Kunst (which translates as 'art museum'), Goldene (which translates as, er, 'golden') is a beautiful room decorated with gold mosaic maps illustrated with historic depictions of alcohol production. Above, a signature modern glass chandelier is equally eye-catching.
Vintage bar accoutrements, polished silver and geeky bar books adorn the bar-top, a clue to its bartenders' ability - Klaus St. Rainer , while a voluminous collection of high-end spirits are reflected in candlelight. Probably a victim of its location, the bar can be completely dead mid-week, but is an attractive destination at other times.
The bar is reached from steps climbed from the rear of the building, which overlooks the Englischer Garten, which is apparently larger than Central Park (though don't mistake it for the P1 Club which kicks off at the basement level.) 3.5/5
Address: Baaderstrasse 28, 80469 Munich
Tel: +49 (0)89 2023 9470
Type: Cocktail bar
Dark woods and candlelight adorn this bar which occupies an impressive corner site on a crossroads close to the River Isar which runs through the city. It's from the same stable as Barista, so the two bars share similar menus, offering a good line of classic drinks, with a similarly large collection of spirits - the menu here also indicating whether the spirit is made in a pot or continuous still. Everything is properly stirred and shaken where you'd expect it to be. The drinks selection extends to draught beers here too.
The light and airy room boasts a large island bar (well, there's 'water' on three sides). It's the focal point in a clean and modern room (to the extent it's almost a bit sterile) which otherwise has a rather colonial feel, with ceiling fans turning slowly overhead. The vibe is slightly younger here than it's more grown-up sibling, not least shown by the more up-beat soundtrack. 4/5
Address: Milchstrasse 17, 81667, Munich
Tel: +49 (0) 89 44142762
Hours: Mon-Sat 8pm-late
Type: Cocktail bar
As the name suggests, a single-room bar, and a tiny one at that, in fact the smallest in Munich with room for only a handful of punters - on our first visit we couldn't even get in. Located to the east of the River Isar, and so probably a taxi ride away from the rest of your Munich bar tour, you'll find this bijou bar atmospheric and cosy, not least because you are practically sat in the laps of your fellow drinkers.
What that also means is that you can expect extremely close and personal service from the single bartender, Emanuele Ingusci, who is also the owner. He opened the bar in March 2008, which is commemorated on the decorative old till, which displays the pre-Euro currency of 4 Marks and 8 Pfennigs. The bar is full of antiquarian touches, old drinks paraphernalia, dropper bottles, kilner jars, atomizers and detailed cocktail and spirits books - an indication of the well-made, artisanal drinks on offer. A deceptively large collection of premium spirits is crammed into the space behind the bar - including some 70 rums.
Barroom is on an otherwise residential street and is one of the bars we'd recommend getting a taxi to - and we'd definitely recommend you do visit. 4.5/5
Address: 32 Kellerstrasse, Munich, 81667, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)89 444 88 770
Type: Cocktail bar
Named after and owned by bartending legend and travelling Campari ambassador, Mauro Mahjoub, this is the third incarnation of his Negroni Club and opened in 2010 - each time he has closed to reopen in a larger site, attracting more capable bartenders to join him. So if you were impressed by his previous offerings, you'll be blown away by this one.
Lying in a quiet residential street in an upmarket area, Mauro's manages to be a destination bar for discerning drinkers and at the same a neighbourhood bar loved by locals. The artwork that surrounds the two panelled rooms are all one-off works by Mauro's talented father. The family influence continues to Mauro's fiancé, Sharin, who designs the bar's excellent newspaper-style menus.
As befits the name you'll find a plethora of Mauro's twists on the Negroni amongst the pages of classic cocktails, and you'll be amazed at what he's used and how well the combinations work. As Mauro is of Italian descent you probably won't be surprised at how good the food served here is.
Incidentally, Mauro is also famous for having the largest privately-owned bar and cocktail book collection. 4.5/5
Address: 9 Platzl, Munich, 80331, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)89 2901 3610
Hours: Daily 9am-11:30
This is one the oldest and the most famous beer hall in Munich. Founded in 1589 by the Duke of Bavaria, Wilhelm V, today this is a vast complex with a cathedral-like beer hall, a large beer garden and room upon room of long trestle tables weighted down by litre steins of beer.
Originally the brewery to the Royal Residence which used to stand close by, Hofbrauhaus (literally 'yard brewing house' in German') remains owned by the state but is leased to Bavarian family operators. In 1919, the Munich Communist government set up headquarters here and the following year Adolf Hitler and the National Socialists held their first meeting in the Festsaal (Festival) Room on the third floor.
You'll find yourself with a choice of two beers, Hofbrau Dark Beer or Original, both served in one or half litre steins. Or you could opt for the local shandy - 'Radler' is beer with lemonade and is available in dark or light. Food ranges from fresh salads to Bavarian beef tartare and a huge range of speciality sausages from the house butchery. Vegetarians who don't like beer are best advised to avoid Hofbrauhaus or wake up. 3/5
Address: 9 Falkenturmstr, Munich, 80331, Germany
Tel: 089 220 500
Hours: Daily 6pm-3am
Bill Deck opened Minich's first American bar on 9-September 1974, making this Munich's oldest cocktail bar. Now in his 70s, he still runs the bar aided by his son David.
Originally named Harry's Bar and franchised by the famous Parisian bar of the same name, Bill rebranded as Pusser's Bar in 1974. Those of you familiar with Harry's will recognise design influences such as the leaded windows and the collegiate coats of arms on the wood-panelled walls.
Spread over three floors, you'll find a jazz pianist in the basement, while upstairs is a small "cigar bar" reserved for invited members. In the gallery space between hangs the Sweet Susan, a hand carved sailing boat shipped from the Caribbean at the whim of Bill, who when he saw it thought it would be a perfect fit. He was right.
The drinks menu is a lexicon of classic cocktails, which when ordered are expertly made. However, be sure to have the house special, a Pusser's rum-based grog. In winter these are served hot and in summer cold. Whatever the weather they come in Pusser's branded mugs and one just won't be enough. 4.5/5
Address: 17 Maximilianstrasse, 80539 Munich, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)89 21250
â€ŽThe frankly unpronounceable name of this hotel literally translates as Four Seasons, and as there isn't any other Four Seasons Hotel in town, that's the best name to ask of your taxi driver.
Vier Jahreszeiten is an old-school five star hotel, big, luxurious and perhaps a little dated. Traverse the hotel's grand lobby and over to the left you'll find this bar tucked away, like the drinks cabinet in the armrest of a luxurious Royal's Royce car. With its trio of golden bling lamp-shades hanging over the sunken bar and luxurious red leather arm chairs, it looks the part. Old money types relax in the brown bucket chairs and snug corners whilst a pianist accompanies a singer on the grand piano.
There is a huge cocktail menu but be sure to experience the Martini trolley, taken with such reverence that the bartenders change their jackets before using it.
In recent years this bar was made special by Cihan Anadologlu who left in May 2011 to join the team at Schunanns so we wait to see how his predecessors fill his shoes. 4/5
Address: Hotel Bayerischer Hof, 2 Promenadeplatz, 80333 München, Germany
Tel: +49 (0)89 212 0743 â€Ž
Beyond the lobby of Hotel Bayerischer Hof and vibrant purple-pink domed orangery you'll find the elevated and decoratively plastered Falk's Bar. The island bar sits in a grandiose rectangular room beneath a splendid recoco white plaster ceiling. Huge ornate guilt framed mirrors punctuate the ornate walls and add spaciousness.
Very sophisticated but welcoming, jeans are not frowned upon but your fellow guests are more likely to be wearing cocktail frocks and dinner jackets. This place exudes refined decorum so a Bulvarian beer is hardly fitting. Instead ask one of the white jacketed bartenders for a classic cocktail from the extensive menu. The capable, attractive female bartenders add to the bars refinement.
Alternatively, atop the hotel, Blue Spar Bar offers a more casual setting and panoramic views over the rooftops of Munich. Take the elevator to the 7th floor and head for the spa (being careful to avoid the gym). Beyond the short bar counter set in the corridor entrance lies and the relaxed glass roofed lounge a terrace that runs around the top of the building. Cocktails are not a patch on downstairs - beware the blender but enjoy the view. 4/5
Address: Hotel Bayerischer Hof, 2 Promenadeplatz, 80333 München, Germany
Wherever you are in the world, Trader Vic restaurants tend to be housed in the bunker-like basements of huge upscale hotels. This Munich outpost is no different, offering a very different experience to the Falk's Bar above (off hotel lobby).
Many of you will be familiar with this bar chain brand and its trademark bamboo and matted rush ceiling, glass floats, puffer fish, hand-carved Tiki poles and luxurious tan leather banquet seating. You'll find all the usual Trader Vic trappings here including the familiar oversize illustrated drinks menu. The obligatory Mia Tia and other signature tiki drinks are faithfully produced to the Trader's spec by friendly and obliging bartenders.
Being Trader Vic's it would be rude to imbibe without at least a nibble on the Cosmo Tidbits. 4/5