Listopedia: Matt Bax’s International Bar Bucket List
Now while I concede many of the bars listed here are super-duper famous, I’ve tried to recommend a few bars that don’t always pop up on the drinking radar. With so many bars and mates in the industry, it’s a very tough call. From tiny subterranean wine caves to legendary Grappa houses, here’s my listopedia of my favourite international bars:
Aussie wunderkind Sammy Ross and his equally talented partner Micheal McIlroy have taken the reigns of arguably the most famous bar site in modern times, the previous home of Milk & Honey.
Expect cheeky but vintage “chat” and quite possibly the best classics on the planet plus home grown gems like Sammy’s “Penicillin”, which might just be the best scotch cocktail I’ve ever tasted.
For me, this is perhaps the most beautiful bar in the world, despite its dark history. Goldene Bar is the liberated cocktail home of a former Nazi SS Officer’s Cigar lounge housed in Munich’s leading Contemporary Art space, Haus der Kunst. It’s a magnificent celebration of art, both liquid and traditional and is headed up by Klaus St von Rainer, an ex Schumann-man and legend amongst the European bar scene. Goldene Bar specialises in modern twists on classics along with plenty of drinks from Klaus’ deep well of creations. I’ve always loved his warm Gin-based tea drink, it’s off the menu but with a friendly smile I’m sure his dedicated team will whip one up for you. In summer, Goldene Bar is probably the best place in Munich to drink with its huge terrace over-looking the divine Englisher Garden. It’s also located just metres from Munich’s famous surfing river, and is a popular watering hole for the surfers and their entourage of cool.
The inventor of “throwing”, a cocktail preparation technique that involves precise super-long pouring instead of shaking to perfectly mix any drink, this bar is a must in Barcelona. It’s an intimate and unique bar space just metres away from the tourist hordes of Las Ramblas These guys will whip up (or should I say throw together) any classic of your choosing, with flair and vintage charm.
Brand new and super hip, everything in this bar is sourced from the wonderful bounties of France. The menu and design is modern and ambitious but wonderfully executed. One of the friendliest and most passionate teams you will meet. A true torch for the exciting things happening in the food and drink scene in Paris.
Mace, NYC, USA
New to the New York scene but resting in the very experienced hands of France’s star-tender Nico de Soto, is Mace. Located in the East Village, the design theme and drink program are driven by spices. It’s like drinking your way through a modern spice market. Amazing and unique.
Schumann’s American Bar, Munich, Germany
Charles Schumann is probably the coolest guy I know. His sense of style can be witnessed in some of the many facets in his classic drinking temple. The buzz and slickness of this venue just has to be experienced as it’s quite unlike any bar I know. Dress up and come prepared to spend. This venue demands respect and it should be on the bucket list of any serious drinking fan.
Septime Wine Cave, Paris, France
Now while you can’t get a cocktail here, this is one of the cutest and most charming wine bars I’ve visited and is just one of the amazing venues in the Septime restaurant group. The Septime Wine Cave is a tiny, sweet place offering a great selection of simple bar snacks and brilliant natural wines. But it was the Swiss cider that ended up being my favourite during the scorching Parisian summer this year.
I’m totally biased as Joel Fraser is an ex Der Raum alumni. The first in his growing list of venues, Cufflink Club hasn’t lost any of its passion. Maybe the most fun cocktail drinking in Singapore, perhaps Asia.
Nardini Bar, Bassano, Italy
Originally the home of legendary Grappa house Nardini, this bar is perched on the beautiful Ponte Vecchio bridge. Head here in the late afternoon to take in the view. You really should only drink one drink here, the Mezzo e Mezzo. All created by the Nardini Grappa house. Epic Italian drinking.
I can’t think of better host anywhere in the world than Herr Meier, another legend of the German bar scene. His attention to detail and commitment to customer enjoyment is nothing short of admirable. He is the creator of the uber famous Gin Basil Smash, one of the most famous modern drinks of our time. Plans are underway for an exciting extension, so although it’s hard to comprehend, this venue continues to grow from strength to strength. Ps. Whilst in Hamburg, you should not miss their sister bar, Bolierman, for some frenzied highball drinking fun.
A favourite among bartenders all over the world, 28HKS is a pioneer of the Singapore bar scene that is continuing to not only shape the local climate but has amassed a cult of fans all over the world. Armed with one of the greatest spirit collections on the planet and one of the most experienced bar teams, it’s easy to understand the amazing success of this venue.
Stuffy and snotty at times but I think it only adds to the charm, a visit to Harry’s Bar is certainly worth making the extra effort (don’t wear shorts as I did this summer). A little like Schumann’s bar, you have to earn your respect here. I still think their Bellini is wonderful and hasn’t lost any of the charm that lured in the likes of Papa Hemingway and Truemann Capote. It’s the very definition of timeless class. I particularly like their unusual, signature glassware.
I’ve been accused of making very serious cocktail dens, Gen Yamamoto puts me to shame. Not for the faint hearted but a must for those brave enough to tackle the rather unique environment (teahouse influenced wabi design, set menu, no music etc), who will be rewarded with some of the most delicious and unique tasting drinks. I’m a weird cat, so take my words with caution but this was my favourite bar discovery of this year.
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