One Night in... Copenhagen

Since we last visited Copenhagen several new quality drinking spots have opened in this city already dense with great cocktail bars; most of them within the last year. It seems this is the great second wave: some of these bars come from existing bar owners expanding their empires; others are expansions into neighbourhoods further out from the city centre.

One thing to keep in mind when scheduling a trip here: at least in winter, many bars are only open Wednesday through Saturday nights. Plan accordingly: we wouldn't want you to miss out on all the fun.

Madam Chu's
Address: Gammel Strand 40, 1202 Copenhagen
Type: Cocktail Bar

From the owners of the speakeasy bar The Union comes this Chinese-themed party bar. While The Union is dark, squareish and compact, Madam Chu's is long and narrow, with a bar running down most of one side of the room. The décor is early-1900s China, but a kitsch version in which the back-bar and several display cases are filled with Buddha statues, sake jars, and vintage posters of smiling ladies.

The bar is also more accessible than The Union in drink style and atmosphere, hosts a younger crowd, and seems built to handle a lot more volume (as seems to be the case with speakeasy bar owners' second bars everywhere). The cocktails, rather than incorporating mostly brown and bitter ingredients, include bright, fresh, and Asian-themed ones like shiso leaves, ginger, rhubarb, and aloe; and carry cheeky names like Throwing Star and Happy Ending. 4/5

Address: Vesterbrogade 72B, 1620 Copenhagen
Tel.:+45 33 11 20 10
Type: Indoor/Outdoor Cocktail Bar

This bar, from the owners of Ruby, located in the hipsteresque Vesterbro neighbourhood down a little alley off the main street, is in the beginning phase of being a multi-level, indoor-outdoor cocktail supersite. As it stands it is already quite charming: a one-storey, rectangular bar has windows that open out to a courtyard that will be decorated and developed by summer.

Inside, the space is like a Nordic diner: the back-bar has a patterned tile wall with brushed steel sinks and kitchen equipment at counter-level, and the liquor bottles are stored mostly along one high shelf above. Non-barstool seating is in comfy chairs in front of a fireplace at one end of the room, or in large booths perpendicular to the big courtyard-facing windows. An additional first floor space with capacity for 75 is also planned, along with a second floor that will host 45. The courtyard will hold 70 people by the height of summer 2013. Frankly, Lidkoeb is lovely just as it is. The cocktail menu lists 20 drinks with a slight emphasis on bourbon and bold flavour accents (coffee, sherry, lots of bitters). 4.5/5

The Barking Dog
Address: Sankt Hans Gade 19, 2200 Nørrebro, Copenhagen
Tel.+45 35 36 16 00
Type: Cocktail Pub

Located across the river from central Copenhagen in Nørrebro, The Barking Dog is a petite neighbourhood cocktail bar, set a couple of steps down from street level. The venue has a small bar room, a larger seating room, and a couple other little seating nooks. With black and white checkered floors, white walls, low ceilings, and a mismatched collection of red couches and stools, the place has the look of a really cool basement recreation room.

The funky jazz coming from a vinyl record player at the end of the bar, board games available to borrow, and a specialty drink served in a Magic 8-Ball only add to this vibe. The beverage focus is on Latin cocktails and specifically tequila and mezcal, with drinks like the Mexican 8-Ball served in the aforementioned container, and a coffee-mezcal Daiquiri. All of it is offered with good cheer from staff that seem to know every customer who comes in. 4/5

Ourselves Alone
Address: Badstuestræde 7, 1209 Copenhagen
Tel.: +45 50 70 76 96

Though the bar was named for a quote from Robert Plant, this is far from a rock-and-roll joint. Rather, Ourselves Alone is like a tiny gentlemen's club, appointed in green upholstered salon chairs that surround candlelit tables. There are no cigar-smoking counts swilling brandy from snifters after dinner here, but guests do get the butler treatment: you are greeted at the door and escorted to a seat, your coat is stored in a wardrobe, and you are served a welcome cocktail.

After you are acclimated, you can negotiate a cocktail with your server (there is no drink menu), and come to an agreement on what will fit your mood. The drink will likely be a classic or vintage cocktail of some sort, perhaps enlivened with local products like aquavit, and served on a large cube of ice. (The bar doesn't own an ice machine- everything is carved from blocks). The vintage cash machine and suited bartender only add to its Old Worlde charm. The experience is so genteel and pleasant that you will probably wish the name indicated that you and your friends really could have the bar alone all to yourselves. 4/5

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