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Bar notes

Contents

Introduction

Notes on bars I've been to and would recommend to others. See also Bar recommendations for lists/notes on bars others have recommended to me that I haven't visited yet. And Things to do in Singapore has more details specific to Singapore.

Locations

Africa

Nigeria

Abuja

  • Hilton Abuja (LV:2000): Like the Sheraton Lagos, in the late '90s, early '00s this was one of the very few international hotels in Nigeria. And like the Sheraton Lagos, the lobby bars here were great places to meet interesting people visiting the country. Drink selection was limited.

Lagos

  • Pat's Bar in VI (LV:2001): This bar has been one of the main spots for expats in Lagos for almost 20 years. While it has a bad reputation as a party girl bar in the evenings, it's also open during the day and was a great spot to go for a burger and beer and relax without being pestered. Looking at photos of it now, it looks very different than it did in the early '00s.
  • Sheraton Lagos in Ikeja (LV:2000): This is a dated review, YMMV. In the late '90s, early '00s, this was one of the very few international hotels in the country. Many business travelers to Nigeria only saw the airport and this hotel due to safety concerns, so the lobby bar was a great place to meet interesting people visiting the country. The bartenders were friendly and talkative, though not always well trained (I once ordered a Guinness and a Coke, intending them to be separate orders. I stopped the bartender just as he was about to mix them together). There is a faux English pub off one corner of the lobby - Goody's. It had a much livelier scene than the main lobby bar, but was full of prostitutes.

Asia

Philippines

Manila

  • The Bottle Shop in Magallanes (LV:2016). Craft beer store and bar with a selection of Filipino brews as well as international imports. They also carry an occasional selection of whiskies and bourbons. Quiet, a nice place to bring a small group for drinks. The owner will sometimes cook snacks. They opened a second location in BGC (Taguig) in 2016, but I haven't tried that location.

Singapore

CBD and nearby

  • The Single Cask at Chijmes (LV:2019). A great whisky bar with a focus on their own single cask releases, though they also carry non-single cask whisky as well as other single cask labels (Berry Bros & Rudd, etc). Bartenders are all very knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
  • The Wall Whisky Bar at 76 Tanjong Pagar Rd (LV:2019). Really great whisky bar, huge selection of independent bottlings. Bartender is great and very knowledgeable.

Central

  • Union Bar at The American Club near Orchard (LV:2019). Members-only club bar with an American sports bar theme. Friendly and knowledgeable staff and good food. Bottle locker service.

East

  • The Cider Pit in Katong (LV:2019). Neighborhood bar focusing on ciders and beer.

Thailand

Bangkok

  • [email protected] in the basement of the Grand Hyatt Erawan (LV: 2019). This is a wine bar that was a favorite of my boss, so it was always a regular stop on trips to Bangkok. Decent selection of wines and good service.
  • P&L Club in the basement of the Grand Hyatt Erawan, behind [email protected] (LV:2017). Affiliated with the SMWS and carries some of their bottlings. Unfortunately for non-smokers, this whisky bar is spoiled due to the thick cigar smoke in the evenings (the club's main purpose is selling Cuban cigars from David Tang's Pacific Cigar Company). Carries SMWS bottles and may give a discount to members.

Americas

Mexico

Guerrero - Taxco

  • Bar Berta in the Plaza/Centro on Jose de la Borda (LV:2005). Open since 1930, it's a local institution and you'll get fantastic views of the town from the balcony (I like to sit at a chair on the corner to get the widest view).

United States

California - Los Angeles

  • Ford's Filling Station LAX airport Terminal 5 (LV:2016). Outside of the airport, it would be a slightly below average bar. But you're trapped at the airport and changing Delta flights at LAX after a long international leg. I hate LAX. Get their bloody Mary.

California - San Francisco

  • Smuggler's Cove on Gough St (LV: 2019). A tiki bar par excellence created by the guy (Martin Cate) who literally wrote the book on tiki bars. Lots and lots (and lots) of rums to try and super intelligent and friendly bartenders who can talk at length about what you're drinking. Join their Rumbustion Society for free and learn more about rums as you go through the lessons. They also have a (gamified) program that covers tiki cocktails.

Georgia - Atlanta

  • Taco Mac throughout Atlanta (LV:2015). YMMV, I've heard that they've gone downhill in the last 5 years since I left town. It's a local chain of sports bars with a really excellent selection of import and craft beers. They also have a members-only bar called The Fred (LV:2014) for higher-tier members of their beer club that's highly recommended (though I've also heard it may no longer exist, so double check me on everything here).
  • The Porter Beer Bar in Little Five Points (LV:2012). Great bar with a great selection of craft beer.
  • The Vortex in Midtown and Little Five Points (LV:2016). Great bar with a personality. One of the better whisk(e)y selections in Atlanta.
  • Wrecking Bar Brewpub in Little Five Points (LV:2012). Great bar with a great selection of craft beer.

Georgia - Decatur

  • Brick Store Pub on the square (LV:2013). Great bar - downstairs is the regular bar, upstairs is a Belgian bar. Food is also excellent. It's quite popular, and can be really crowded on weekends.

Georgia - Tucker

  • Moonshadow Tavern/Saloon on Lawrenceville Hwy (LV:2008). Local (semi-)legendary bar with live music many nights.

Australia/NZ/SPAC

Australia

Sydney

  • Hart's Pub in The Rocks (LV: 2016). Traditional-style pub with great craft beers and good food.

Europe

United Kingdom

London

  • Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch (LV:2019): Claims to have the largest selection of bourbon in London. While they do have a large selection, it seems like many of the rarer selections on their menu aren't actually in stock. Their menu leaves off details (for example, they offer Sonoma County Bourbon, but don't specify if it's 1, 2, or 3 and their bar staff aren't sure either). This is more of a party bar than a serious whisky bar, I'd only suggest coming here with a group or if they have something you haven't seen elsewhere.
  • Cotton's in Shoreditch (LV:2019): Conveniently located next door to Blues Kitchen, it's a Caribbean-themed restaurant that claims to have a very large selection of rum. I didn't get past the front door- they've posted that they don't accept chip-and-signature credit cards, which are the standard in the US and Singapore, thus I'd have had no way to pay.
  • Scotch Malt Whisky Society in Holborn (LV:2019): Members-only tasting room/shop above a corner pub. The only SMWS tasting room outside of Scotland, has a great selection of SMWS bottles. Bar staff knowledge can be hit or miss. Menu includes meals at lunch, only small appetizers after 3pm.
  • Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (LV:2016): One of the oldest pubs in London. Nice place to have a drink. Closed Sundays.

Middle East