The Top Ten European Bar Openings 2016
What a year it was in the bar biz! In the year in which we expanded our MIXOLOGY BAR AWARDS to Europe, here’s our top ten bar openings of 2016 across the entire continent.
You can’t have missed it. 2016 hasn’t been too popular a year. And whilst equating the beverage biz to global geopolitics isn’t something we’re in line with, there’s always room for some positivity. Notably, when you focus in on our ever-growing, ever-evolving bar world. 2016’s been a great year in that regard, one with plenty of corking openings.
Time for a few small disclaimers. First off, this year we expanded our MIXOLOGY BAR AWARDS to Europe and thus we have also expanded our top 10 list out of the GSA (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) countries to incorporate all the great bars that opened across the continent.
Also, don’t take this as gospel. Many great bars haven’t made the list – and still deserve your visit! Any bar that opened between mid-December 2015 to mid-December 2016 is eligible – meaning we caught a few 2015 enders and a few recent December openings in the process. And here’s a shout-out to London’s The Gibson, the best new European bar at this year’s MIXOLOGY BAR AWARDS, which just missed the cut – inofficially opening last November.
Onto the list. Let’s hope for an even more exciting 2017!
Think of Bonhomie like gastronomy’s version of a shopping mall – minus the sterility. From morning to night, there’s an open kitchen, great juices, coffee and, of course, a cracking cocktail bar on offer.
The team behind Lulu White and Little Red Door – would we have expected any less? – have created a new joint that has cracked all the bases. Give their fermented Bellini a spin if you’re ever at their newbie joint on the 10th arrondissement.
Tailor Bar (Amsterdam)
Tailoring requires creativity, accuracy, attention to detail and a fine hand. So does making cocktails. It’s thus no surprise that Amsterdam’s Tailor Bar has fitted into the city’s cocktail landscape with such stylish panache.
Both the menu, curated by Tess Posthumus and Wynand Fockink, and the design of the bar, tell the story of the tailor Krasnapolsky, who arrived in Amsterdam in 1856. From a bar menu separated into sections for cashmere, silk, cotton and hemp, to a bar engraved with measuring tape and pins and sewing implements hanging from the ceilings, it’s a story expertly told in 360 degrees – with expert drinks to boot.
7 Tales (London)
“Drink sake, stay soba” says the neon sign imprinted on 7 Tales, a bar located in the basement of the Japanese restaurant Sosharu. Located in the former premises of one of London’s most revered clubs, there’s indeed great sake – but trust us, it’ll take some self control staying “soba” somewhere this fun.
Blasting out a hip-hop soundtrack, there’s a whole bunch to keep you lodged here for hours – from delicious wagyu beef skewers, to the Tokyo vibe, to the vending machines. Yes, it’s especially exciting to hit up a vending machine after purchasing your cocktail, where an absinthe-soaked sugar cube is released – meant to go in your cocktail! – and a pod with Japanese proverb. “Drink sake, and then more sake”, anyone?
“Yippie Ki Yay Motherfu***r!” Exclamation marks litter the menu for Paris’ Danico. Such decadent use of punctuation however doesn’t spell doom for Nico De Soto’s new venture – a casual chic and elegant bar that’s taken the City of Light by storm (!) in 2016.
Attached to Darocco – an Italian trattoria which itself is most likely deserving of a place in a separate food list – it’s a small, gorgeous space, from the black marble counter to the brass lamps. De Soto’s cocktail list is top notch too. Yippie Ki Yay Motherfu***r indeed.
Guts & Glory (Karlsruhe)
Our first GSA bar on the list isn’t in one of the big-hitters, but the smaller city of Karlsruhe. Guts & Glory has become equally popular with local and visiting barflies. With a seasonal menu run by the venerable Mo Kaba (and a great house gin!), the elegant bar is a surprise located on a somewhat shady backstreet. Here’s a tip from our very own Peter Eichhorn: don’t miss out on their “Corn ’n‘ Oil”.
La Commune (Paris)
Le Syndicat is already one of our favorite Paris bars – even making our top 5 in Paris list – and now they’ve been joined by their sister La Commune. Once again, it’s 100% french spirits and 100% incognito – the uninitiated walker-by wouldn’t find it – but this time located in Belleville.
The lively jungle terrace moulds perfectly here with the juicy punches – the raison d’être of the bar. Our tip? Try the „Mate mon Métisse“ with jamaican pepper, armagnac brandy and fresh coriander.
Hunky Dory (Frankfurt)
The dearly departed David Bowie had many guises throughout his long career. It isn’t clear if Hunky Dory – named after his album of the same name – has a particular guise in mind, but whatever it is, it’s a damn good one.
Run by Armin Azadpour, who helped opening legendary The Kinly two years ago, they offer classic cocktails and tap cocktails, automatically cooled to two degrees in barrels. You can order inside a row of telephone booths. An excellent food menu and a constantly rotating list of events – from readings to exhibitions, wine seminars and live music – ensure things are always…erm…hunky dory at Frankfurt’s newest star bar.
Whether or not you like the Bijou cocktail, there’s a lot to offer at Antwerp’s effortlessly stylish Bijou bar. Run by Ben Belmans and Dieter Van Roy, enclosed in a row of lit-up back fridges are a number of highball glasses with frozen iceballs inside. They’re passionate about the ice – just strike up a conversation to find out more.
As well as those made on the spot, small batch aged cocktails are on offer, from the Negroni, to the Boulevardier and Old Fashioned, the maturation technique of glass ageing creating an intense cocktail flavor. Consult the flavor wheel or ask one of their friendly bartenders if you need any inspiration.
El Paradiso (Barcelona)
What to do when you’re tired with the speakeasy concept? Introduce the double-speakeasy.
That’s what El Paradiso have done since they opened up their bar in Barcelona’s El Born district last December – a bar accessible through a fridge door at the back of a pastrami outlet. Once through the door, there’s a lively wood-panelled bar to hang out in (with a mechanical bull to boot!).
You can find the delightful copper-tinged second room by heading to the toilet – although we’ll keep the exact details of finding the entrance for your own discovery. Thankfully both the rooms and the adventurous drinks (try the grandious – and tobacco smoked – „My Great Gatsby“) make sure that El Paradiso lives beyond this double speakeasy concept.
Swift Bar (London)
One door closes, another one opens – literally: Many tears were shed when the legendary L.A.B. bar closed its doors in London’s SoHo, but just a few months later there’s a successor to mop up your gin-soaked tears.
Top cocktail duo Bobby Hiddleston and Mia Johansson, as well as the owners of Nightjar and Oriole, Roisin Stimpson and Edmund Weil, joined forces for a two-floored operation titled Swift – which aims to change your idea of what a “quick drink” is. Instant word – and it’s instant, Swift opened in early December – has been positive about the art-déco bar. Upstairs is all about martinis and other aperitifs don’t miss the “Piccolina“, a mix of white port, amontillado sherry, fig and angostura – with downstairs focusing on contemporary cocktails and a strong whiskey collection.
Foto: Photo: Guts & Glory, Karlsruhe via Paul Gärtner.