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Best Cocktail Bars in the City
What makes a city great? Some may argue that the number of good cocktail bars would influence its appeal. By this standard, Hamburg is on the right path. There is a decent array of traditional cocktail bars and emerging new bars with a younger crowd, a great atmosphere, and all adhering to a high standard. Here are our top choices:
We must start at Le Lion. As it is constantly named one of the best bars in the world and can be found in almost any annual list of relevant international publications. The reputation of this bar is owed to the owner and world-class bartender, Jörg Meyer – the inventor of the Gin Basil Smash, which you should try at least once in your lifetime.
It is no surprise that you must ring a doorbell to be granted admission into this fine (and small) establishment. The process of getting in is a sweet but rather harmless detail.
Once you’ve been granted access by the friendly doorman after ringing the doorbell, you will step into the atmospheric lighting of this classic dark bar. It’s best to reserve ahead, as this is a small and cosy place. Start with the house signature drink Gin Basil Smash – it’s unrivalled – and then let the bartender be your drinks guide for the night. You will see that the craftsmanship and the quality of the ingredients are top-notch.
The upstairs smoking room isn’t always open, so if you wish to light up you may want to enquire when you make your reservation.
Hamburg claims to have more bridges than Amsterdam and Venice combined. It is a fact that locals are very proud of, although nobody knows if it’s true or hearsay. Nevertheless, there are a lot of bridges to cross in this city. And there is a special bridge on which you can have very good lunch or a romantic dinner. But the real treasure here is the bar at the entrance of the restaurant named Rialto – a nod to Venice. It’s an elegant restaurant situated on a beautiful square close to the art gallery district, and has become a favourite among the local art crowd. And rightly so. In the summertime, you will be seated right on the bridge, with nice views of the harbour. Inside, the bar is cosy and has a rather elegant vibe, where you can also order food to go along with your cocktails. You are even allowed to smoke here, too! On a busy night, the bar has a party atmosphere: as the music turns up, so do the glasses. The bar has an extra gin menu with a decent selection of tonics, so you could say that G&T is a sort of speciality here. G&T, atmosphere and a view.
The Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten is arguably the classiest Hotel in town. So, it is no surprise that the small Jahreszeiten Bar next to the entrance is so classy. Two floors and a majestic counter which somehow fit into this tiny room, and the bar stools are Rolls-Royce leather seats. The whole place overlooks the magnificent Binnenalster. What a treat for the eyes.
The famous Bar Manager Enrico Wilhelm will treat your senses with his perfect classic cocktails, but he also has a fine selection of over 70 whiskeys and more than 25 different gin varieties, and some fine cigars from his humidor, if you ask nicely.
The true show-stopper here are the exquisite whiskeys on display (and under the counter). If you are looking for the rarest types of malt in the world – you have come to right place.
The Boilerman Bar in part of the cool 25hours Hotel in the famous old ‘Altes Hafenamt’ and is without a doubt the best bar in the culinary wasteland otherwise known as Hafen City (Harbour City). Bar celebrities Jörg Meyer and Rainer Wendt opened the Boilerman Bars as an homage to the bar tradition of highball drinks. They are prepared without shakers and made of fine spirits. Served with two ice cubes in a frozen glass, highballs are quickly prepared and, thanks to their size, allow you to try a wide variety of flavour combinations. The first Boilerman Bar in the nice neighbourhood of Eppendorf specializes in whiskey. The second Boilerman Bar is all about rum. An ever-growing selection of special rums from all over the world and thus a one-of-a-kind menu of special rum highballs and exclusive rum tastings with guests make the Boilerman Bar a magnet for thirsty locals and adventurous travellers alike.