Craft Beer Travel, Travel

Best Bars in the World – Part One

Best Bars in the World

Vacation is a time to relax and cut loose. One of my favorite ways to do that is sauntering up to a local watering hole for an afternoon or evening. It’s also one of the best ways to get to know locals or meet fellow travelers. Thus, it only seemed fitting that the second installment in the Best… in the World series should focus on bars! What’s on tap for the Best Bars in the World? A bar at the end of the Earth, the highest bar in the world, a modern speakeasy, and pub where dancing on the bar is mandatory! All sound like my kind of places.

Ukrainian Research Center, Antarctica – Ott’s World

The best bar in the world is at the end of the world – Antarctica.  My father and I did an expedition cruise to Antarctica and part of the daily itinerary was to leave the big ship twice a day and take smaller Zodiac rafts to various places to view icebergs or go hike around the continent and see wildlife.  However occasionally the ship would stop at a place where there were research stations manned by scientists and researchers from various countries.   One of our stops was the Ukrainian base in Antarctica.  The base was occupied by 11 men who lived there year round for 2-year assignments.

The Most Southern Bar in the World - Photo Courtesy of Ott's World

The Most Southern Bar in the World – Photo Courtesy of Ott’s World

It was no big surprise that the Ukrainian researchers were pretty excited when expedition ships visited their base – new people to talk to, and women – need I say more?  They took groups of us on tours of the base explaining their work and allowing us to ask questions about life on Antarctica.  However at the end of the tour, they showed us their recreation room, which consisted of a pool table, some couches, a TV, and a bar complete with barstools and a bartender.  They didn’t have a lot of variety at the bar, but were eager to sell and serve us Ukrainian vodka.  My dad and I decided – what the hell – you are only in Antarctica once so why not have a vodka shot.  The bar was lively as expedition guests ordered up shots and the Ukrainians joined along in the drinking fun – all before noon.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I’d be staring out at icebergs and penguins on Antarctica while doing shots of vodka with my dad.  And of course the good news – it kept us warm.

Sherry is a corporate cube dweller turned nomadic traveler. She travels to off-the-beaten-path destinations to bring unique travel experiences and photography to her readers. But it’s not just about travel, it’s also about life experiences of a middle age wanderer. Read more on her blog Ott’s World!

The Bar at Vernadsky Research Base, Antarctica - Photo Courtesy of Ott's World

The Bar at Vernadsky Research Base, Antarctica – Photo Courtesy of Ott’s World

Noble Experiment in San Diego, California – Till the Money Runs Out

With all that we have seen and done over the past four years of continuous travel, it is surprising how many of my “bests of the world” are from my hometown of San Diego. I know that people say that the “flavor” of the last place I considered home may add to the experiences or memories, but I don’t think that is it. In fact, Noble Experiment, the bar that I firmly believe is “THE BEST BAR in the world” did not even exist when we still lived there, they opened right around the same time we left.

This “hidden” speakeasy style bar is the first place that introduced me to serious cocktails. I hadn’t realized that the same unexpected pairing of flavors and attention to detail that goes into a fancy meal could also fit in a glass! There are many other places that do the same prohibition-era style bar. Places that you go because it is hidden behind an innocuous looking door that purports to be the office of a lawyer or a psychiatrist. You go for the dark interior and the cute bowties and suspenders or red lipstick of the bartender, you go for something different.

Noble Experiment with Till the Money Runs Out - Photo Courtesy of  NeverEndingVoyage

Noble Experiment with Till the Money Runs Out – Photo Courtesy of NeverEndingVoyage

Though Noble Experiment definitely has a lot of these same “tricks”, you do after all push on a wall of “kegs” that swings open to reveal a flickering red neon sign and a wall of gold skulls, it is the quality of the cocktails and the knowledge of the bartenders that keeps us going back every time we visit San Diego.

The best way to go is to sit at the bar so you can chat with your bartender about the flavors that you like and don’t like, and then let her or him decide what to make you. I promise you won’t be disappointed. Text ahead for a reservation, they usually book out a week or more in advance. It’s a tiny place and the cocktails are outrageously expensive but it is so, so, worth it.

Tom and Jenny of Till the Money Runs Out are entrepreneurs, travelers and spicy food aficionados. California is officially “home” but they can usually be found a lot closer to the equatorial belt. They started an app development company and have been calling anywhere with an internet connection “the home office” for the last few years.

Port O’ Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland – Two Scots Abroad

So you’ve seen the Castle (how nice of them to build the castle so close to the shops). But you are a traveller, so you want more than cobbled streets and ‘See You Jimmy’ hats. Turn your back on the Castle (literally), walk straight until you reach the end of Princes Street and take a left down Leith Walk. Keep walking, welcome to the real Edinburgh.

At the entrance of Leith you will see a red painted door – this is the best pub in the world, the Port O’ Leith. Take note of its destination and return on a weekend night. On a Friday or Saturday night you will not walk past the lure of POL, there will be people spilling out of the door. As the door edges open you will hear pumping music and laughter. Give into temptation, everyone is welcome. As you enter all of your senses will be insulted. You will see punters from young to old, local to tourist, hipster to the old man falling asleep over the warm pint he has nursed all day. Dancing on the bar is mandatory.

Best Bars in the World

Port O’ Leith in Edinburgh, Scotland – Photo Courtesy of Two Scots Abroad

This is the best pub in the world – Joseph, my American tour guide (who I met back in 2011), declared when we partied at POL last year. Evidence that I’m not just biased! And as the night closes the final song is always by The Proclaimers, get ready to sway and sing-a-long.

Gemma and Craig of Two Scots Abroad are packing up their past lives as teacher and tradesman to backpack The Americas. Join them as they begin their travels in N’awlins March ’15 and conclude in *insert name of country* August ’16.

Best Bars in the World

Dancing on the Bar? Now that’s my Kind of Place! Photo Courtesy of Two Scots Abroad

Ozone in Hong Kong, China – Travel in Translation

Located 118 stories above ground Ozone isn’t just the Best Bar in the World, it’s also the Highest Bar in the World. Whenever people come visit me in Hong Kong or ask for bar recommendations, it’s always my place of choice.

Offering some of the best views over Hong Kong’s sparkling Victoria Harbour, you’ll be drinking amongst the clouds—literally. As we sat there soaking in the views at our window-side seats, we were amazed to notice that we were indeed eye-level with clouds.

This trendy bar has a great electric atmosphere, making it a fun place to hang out with friends on the weekends.

Drink prices are a bit higher here as Ozone is part of the Ritz Carlton, but that’s to be expected of any hotel bar, let alone a bar with a view. They have a few specialty cocktails, which were delicious and not to mention strong (always a plus for the steep price).

My recommendation? Instead of spending your money on tickets to the popular sky100 observation tower found 18 floors below, save yourself the trouble (and the horribly long line) by simply headed up here for a drink instead, as the price will be about the same.

Best bars in the World

The View from the Highest Bar in the World – Photo Courtesy of Travel in Translation

Make sure to visit at night when the skyline is at its finest, but know that it gets crowded. Consider visiting early evening, and then staying until 7pm to watch the famous Symphony of Lights performance or visiting during the week when it’s less busy. Whichever you do, just be sure to visit Ozone if you ever find yourself in Hong Kong. You won’t regret it!”

Originally from Chicago, Beth is an Asia expert who got her first true taste of travel when she went to university in Japan. After living in Asia for three years, she finally returned to the US, where she is now based as a travel blogger full-time. Despite not living in Asia anymore, she still seeks out Asian culture around the world in order to translate it for her readers on Travels in Translation.

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Check out Part Two of the Best Bars in the World!!!