City guides

Amsterdam image


Amsterdam is a tolerant city, especially where vices are concerned, and thanks to this broad-minded attitude many tourists arrive in search of 'a smoke'

Athens image


The Acropolis sits atop the hill overlooking the city with other ancient ruins seemingly on every corner. Athens is both warm in the locals' friendly welcome and its very clement weather. The central area, in the shadow of the Parthenon, is easily navigated on foot and boasts some of the world's best bars – its narrow streets and flea markets interesting to browse and shaded from the intense sun.

Barcelona image


Balmy weather, great shops, world famous art galleries, a sandy (manmade) Mediterranean beach and breath-taking architecture. Barcelona has all this and more besides. Its club scene is world famous, its restaurants are outstanding and we list nearly 20 world class cocktail bars and lounges below, plus our tips and favourite hotels.

Beirut image


Once known as the Paris of the East, the capital of war-torn Lebanon still retains a surreal beauty, even though parts of it have been rebuilt twice in the last decade, and there's still work ongoing from the last Israeli bombing campaign in 2006. It is a city of contradictions and diversity on the edge of a world that might appear to tolerate neither of these.

Berlin image


Berlin's bars have enjoyed legendary status ever since the 'roaring twenties' when swinging Berlin was Europe's party capital and now, over twenty years since the wall came down, Berlin is once again the must head to city for the young.

Birmingham image


Birmingham first grew to prominence in the 18th century when it was at the heart of the industrial revolution. Sadly severe bombing during WWII marred some of its Regency and Victorian magnificence but today it is still recognised as a major international commercial centre.

Brighton image


Although a bit tatty in places Brighton is a stimulating and timeless mix of Graham Greene, fairground rides on the pier, England by the seaside, lary hen and stag nights, cute home-making shops, artists being arty and alternative dressers. And of course it's famous as the gay capital of Britain. The marina out to the east feels a bit cut off from it all.

Bristol image


Once a major industrial city with one of the country's largest ports, Bristol is still England's tenth largest city. It was through Bristol that much of the UK's sherry, port, rum and table wines were imported and expert blenders worked in the dockside warehouses making now famous brands. The name Bristol Cream sherry is no coincidence.

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Buenos Aires

When you think of Buenos Aires, most people think of steak, Malbec, and tango - but Argentina’s breathtaking capital offers so much more.

Chicago image


The skyscrapers of Chicago rise up from the western shores of Lake Michigan in a vista immortalised in a thousand gangster films. But, for all its lurid history, this is a friendly city. Chicagoans have a reputation for enjoying their food and loving their sports, while the city’s jazz scene is internationally known.

Copenhagen image


The sea and the network of canals that cross Copenhagen are integral to its character –, by day you can enjoy coffee on the cobbled quayside cafes of the Nyhavn harbour district, at night the terraces of waterside restaurants fill up, and three miles to the south is Amager Stranpark, a vast white beach.

Copenhagen image


Most globetrotters will agree there is something especially pleasant about Copenhagen. Is it the seamless public transport? Its relatively small size?

Dublin image


The Irish are famous for their warmth, hospitality and a good craic, qualities much evident in a good Irish pub. The Dublin originals remain special places, quite different to the Irish pub brand exported to cities around the world. Besides its quintessential pubs, Dublin now also boasts a growing number of refined cocktail lounges and craft beer bars.

Edinburgh image


Edinburgh is a city of many faces. It is home to Braveheart and to Trainspotting, to the Military Tattoo and the Edinburgh Festival.

Glasgow image


Scotland's largest city is an industrial city and the shipyards on the River Clyde still function. Whisky is, however, now more visible than shipbuilding and a great many brands are bottled in the outskirts of the city and the motorway from the airport passes huge warehouses with recognisable names such as Chivas Regal.

Hamburg image


Germany’s second city, Hamburg's size and wealth comes from its being Germany’s largest, and Europe’s second largest port. Dockside cranes, old warehousing and screaming gulls are all synonymous with Hamburg, a city generously laid out around, and seemingly over, two large lakes and the mighty Elbe River. While not a great bar city as such, Hamburg boasts at least one of the world’s very best bars

London image


In our experience the following London bars serve consistently good cocktails, regardless of what bartenders are on shift and independent of the time of day or the day of the week - factors which can be surprisingly revealing. As well as good cocktails, these bars offer good surroundings, ambiance and service.

Miami image


Miami is famed for its Art Deco buildings, subtropical climate, sandy beaches, blue seas, nightlife and luxury living – well, Miami Beach is. Downtown Miami is a bustling metropolis housing big business with accompanying skyscrapers. Miami Beach is a separate island in the bay, linked to the mainland by causeways. Together they’re technically known as Greater Miami.

Milan image


Milan boasts a vibrant cocktail scene with plenty of bars worthy of visiting. Handily, our favourites nestle in the city centre within walking distance

New Orleans image

New Orleans

New Orleans has a cocktail heritage dating back to 1793 when John B. Schiller created the Sazerac, followed by Henry C. Ramos who came up with the Ramos Gin Fizz here in 1888. Looking at the lurid cocktails offered along today's Bourbon Street it's hard to believe, but Nola's bartenders continue in the tradition of Schiller and Ramos with the city’s top bars ranking among the world's best.

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Published: 23 June 2016. Some of the bars mentioned below have since closed.

Portland, Oregon image

Portland, Oregon

Although relatively small with a population of 600,000, Portland has a big reputation for its food and drink. Justifiably so, with a vibrant cocktail scene, some of America’s most regarded chefs and legendary street food with over 600 licensed carts. It also boasts more breweries and craft distilleries than any other city in America and has dozens of micro-coffee roasteries and cafes.

San Francisco image

San Francisco

San Francisco is a relaxed, liberal, artsy sort of place and its nightlife runs the gamut from loud strip joints to downbeat lounges and upscale restaurants. Even outside the Castro, the city is extremely gay-friendly.

Seattle image


Blame it on the rain. Seattle's famously wet weather leads its citizens to seek solace in energizing coffee, invigorating rock music, and in small close-to-home bars that function as community living rooms. Most of the more notable cocktail bars can be found clustered in a few neighbourhoods though.

Shanghai image


An industrial powerhouse that's home to rising 25 million people – a larger population than most European countries – Shanghai has long been mainland China's most cosmopolitan city. And, from the colonial elegance of the French Concession's shady streets to the neoclassical grandeur of The Bund and the high-rise, skyrise glitz of Pudong, this global icon has style in spades.

Singapore image


Steamy, tropical and high-rise, the tiny island state of Singapore is one of the most densely populated nations in the world. Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the city's foodie reputation and a recent influx of international celebrity chefs, the drinks scene in Singapore is developing rapidly.

Stockholm image


The following cocktail bars predominantly all lie within the city centre with many in walking distance of each other.

Sydney image


Bartenders in the briefest of shorts, frosted beer taps pronouncing sub-zero temperatures and a figurative flood of whiskey apples and Espresso Martinis – you must be drinking in Sydney.

Toronto image


Toronto has come a long way since British actor/director/playwright Peter Ustinov called it “a kind of New York run by the Swiss”. It’s still clean and remarkably safe, but has also become a lot more fun.

Vancouver image


Cradled between the mountains and ocean, bristling with Pacific Northwest beauty, gleaming glass high-rises and blessed with a mild (but admittedly rainy) climate, there’s no doubt that when it comes to Canadian cities, Vancouver bagged all the looks.

Venice image


Ancient, romantic and picturesque, the city of Venice sits precariously on a series of mud banks that lie in a lagoon off Italy's north-eastern coast. Four hundred bridges traverse some 150 canals in this watery city which lies defenceless to the tidal whims of the Adriatic. Breathtaking architecture is set amidst narrow streets and canals giving a picture postcard view around every corner

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