Bars in Hamburg are some of Germany’s true mixology powerhouses. With the expert advice of some of the industry’s biggest names, Andrew Wilkin uncovered the top five bars in Hamburg, finding a dynamic bar scene in the process.
Hamburg has much more to it than the infamous red lights and crowds of the Reeperbahn. Offering both old-world classics, and highly innovative bars, the second biggest city in Germany has a hopping bar scene which lays claim to being one of the country’s finest. With the advice of some top industry figureheads, here are the top five bars in Hamburg.
Bars in Hamburg – Le Lion, Bar de Paris: An indelible classic
You can’t argue with a classic, and Le Lion is classic in every sense of the word. Recommended by Trinklaune writer and Hamburg native Oliver Steffens, “it has the perfect hosts, the perfect drinks and I still love the room.” Le Lion states its intentions straight away with its big metal lion standing guard over the room. These high-class drinks are worthy of the biggest cat of all.
With the highly lauded Jörg Meyer as its commander-in-chief, the drinks are meticulously prepared – from the double frozen ice to the siphons and cooled glasses. Patrons can also head up to the quieter Pine Room upstairs – created in 2016 to give more space to the ever-popular bar. Quite simply, Le Lion is one of the best bars in Hamburg and Europe.
Boilerman Bar: Jörg Meyer strikes again
Who said magic doesn’t strike twice? The genius of Boilerman Bar is that Jörg Meyer doesn’t rely on the same formula, but treads an entirely new path. More of a neighborhood dive bar than a classic cocktail den like Le Lion, Boilerman specializes in highballs, including inventive and famous the “Suffering Bastard”, made of gin, brandy, ginger beer, and bitters. A wide selection of American whiskies and beers are also on offer.
“Jörg Meyer’s masterpiece. And the head bartender Andrej Bush always has the potential to be the best – and the last – you recognize in a night,” says Steffen Hubert, formerly of Borco and now also writing for Trinklaune. The operation is so slick that you can expect your drinks in a jiffy. Note also that Boilerman has since opened up a second location in the 25hours Hotel at the Altes Hafenamt.
Dripbar: Getting Experimental
Named the “the most creative bar in Hamburg at the moment” by Oliver Steffens, the Dripbar offers something highly original amongst the Hamburg throng. Utilizing a slow-drip process with a cold brew coffee dripper, Dripbar specializes in cold-drip cocktails. The bar offers a menu also including cold drip coffee, non-drip cocktails, and both old-school and long drinks. There’s also their special tasting menu to try out including four drinks – a “Salty Peanut Fashioned,” a “Smoky Beetroot,” a small beer, all rounded off with an Espresso Martini. If you’d rather just take it one drink at a time, try the “Mamani G&T,” with the gin flavored with coriander, cucumber, and jalapeños.
Run by bar manager Christian Janzen, they’ve taken a trend created for coffee bars and applied it to cocktails. Of all bars in Hamburg, this is one of the most inventive.
Jahreszeiten Bar: A Proper Hotel Bar
“A grand hotel as it should be,” says Steffen Hubert. The pick of the hotel bars in Hamburg, the Jahreszeiten Bar offers one of those exquisite, timeless experiences you go to the hotel bar for. The two-storey bar is located at the entrance to the eponymous hotel and features a door excavated from a 16th-century church, as well as walls covered in antelope hide and a high, sloping ceiling.
Head up the spiral staircase for views over the city’s Inner Alster Lake and to sit on parlor seating taken from a Rolls-Royce. The Jahreszeiten Bar was opened in 1897 and offers one of those experiences where it seems nothing has changed and no standards have slipped – even with the emergence of cocktail culture in Hamburg begetting many challengers. The spirits selection reaches deep into the bar’s history and includes many rare treasures.
And if you’re a morning drinker, you’re in luck. “You’ll get your outstanding Martini there also on Saturdays at 1 am,” says Hubert with a smile.
The Chug Club: A Mexican Bar in Hamburg
If a good bar is all about discovery, The Chug Club has hit the proverbial nail on the head. At The Chug Club it’s all about the agave plant, and tequila in particular. Owner Bettina Kupsa, previously of Le Lion, resides over the bar close to the Reeperbahn with dark red walls and windows reminiscent of stained glass. It’s a literal cathedral to the spirit.
The eponymous “Chug” is one-third of a regular cocktail – and many guests recommend that you drink five “Chugs” with a beer in the middle. The “Bandera” is also available: a deconstructed shot which comes in three glasses – one lime juice, one blanco tequila, and one sangrita.
Of course, once you’ve had your favorite “Chug,” you can order a full glass. “If you’ve not tried a Chug menu, you’ve not visited Hamburg,” says Hubert.