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Top 10 new cocktail cities in Europe

New cocktail cities on the block

Cocktail culture has been well established as an integral part of our drinking behaviour for a good couple of hundred years already, but popularity for the mixed concoctions has waxed and waned somewhat over time. At the moment, there seems to be a general move in favour of cocktails, with highly creative mixologists dreaming up all sorts of Heston-Blumenthal-esque creations.

Europe enjoys a particularly rich cocktail culture. While some places are now almost old-hand at cocktail making, hundreds of towns and cities across the continent are getting the cocktail bug in a big way, with some really excellent results.

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of some of the better up-and-coming cocktail Meccas across Europe.

Berlin, Germany

While Berlin might not strike you straight away as an ‘up-and-coming’ cocktail city given its well established party reputation, a combination of a new interest in artfully created cocktails and the city’s innate regenerative nature, it seems wrong not to include it on this list. Berlin has a hugely varied drinks scene, mirroring the highly varied interests and cultures that flourish there. This deeply historic city has a unique feel to it, and a selection of cocktail bars to match.

Top bars:

Riva (Dircksenstrasse, s-bahnbogen142, 10178 Berlin-Mitte), Green Door Cocktail Bar (Winterfeltdtstr. 50, 10718 Berlin), Saphire (Bötzowstraße 31, Berlin)

Copenhagen, Denmark

This is a fairytale town, not just because of its link with Hans Christian Andersen, but because of its beautiful architecture and extremely international nature, exemplified by its bridge to Sweden. It is a prime example of Scandinavian hospitality and friendliness, and the bars certainly maintain that idea. The selection of bars is as eclectic as it is extensive, with cocktail menus to match.

Top bars:

K bar (Ved Stranden 20), Ruby (Nybrogade 10, st), Karriere (Flæsketorvet 57-67, Vesterbro, 1711)

Hamburg, Germany

While often overlooked in favour of its big sister Berlin, Hamburg has a lot to offer the intrepid cocktail lover. It’s a fast paced city with a certain grittiness to it; that coupled with the cult status of Reeperbahn and its less-than-salubrious surroundings, it gives a very different view to German nightlife. The cocktails are creative and edgy, nicely matching the feel of the city. Definitely worth the trip.

Top bars:

Indochine (Neumühlen 11, 22763 Hamburg), Cui (Ballindamm 15 , Hamburg)

Kraków, Poland

Kraków is the former capital of Poland, and remains the cultural capital with a stunning selection of museums, galleries and architectural treasures. The cool old Jewish quarter smacks of Montmartre in Paris, renowned for its cool ‘starving artist’ hang outs and chic little literary/artistic inspired cafés, but more and more trendy cocktail bars seem to be sprouting there, too. These are often still finding their own style, but given the creative setting and the current promising level of drinks, we’re sure this is one to watch.

Top bars:

Baroque (ul. Sw. Jana 15), Paparazzi (Mikołajska 9, 31-027), Piano Rouge (Main Market Square 46), Pauza (ul. Florianska 18/3)

Vienna, Austria

This highly cultural city has a very well established coffee culture, with historic cafés littering the streets. It is, however, less known for its trendy cocktail scene, which, while still slightly underground, is very cool indeed. The vibe is similar to Berlin in its heyday, just slightly less grungey perhaps.

Top bars:

Comida & The Red Room (Stubenring 20, Wien, 1010), Jenseits (Nelkengasse 3 Mariahilf 6th District, Vienna, A 1060), and Dino’s (Salzgries 19, Wien, 1010)

Milan, Italy

As a fashion capital of the world, it isn’t really surprising that Milan’s style and sub-cultures are forever changing, as are the bars and their menus. Local venues continually oscillate from anonymity to stardom, driven purely by word-of-mouth of the social darlings alone. Given its close link to fashion, no trip to Milan would be complete without visiting one of the bars patronised by one of the many style gurus based there, like D&G’s Gold, the Armani Bar, Just Cavalli…

Top bars:

Gold (2a Via Carlo Poerio, 20129 Milan), Honky Tonks (10Via Fratelli Induno), Bar Basso (39 Via Plinio)

Valencia, Spain

Valencia’s nightlife has been on the radar for a few years now, but is only recently coming into its own as a prime cocktail location.  It’s a very trendy city with its futuristic museum complex, which, coupled with its massive student population, and highly international scene, makes for the perfect cocktail storm!

Top bars:

Johnny Maracas (Calle Caballeros 39), The Nine Bar (C/ Salamanca 8, Canovas), Café Infanta (Plaza Tossal 3 Old Quarter)

Brussels, Belgium

Contrary to popular belief, there is more to Belgium than Tintin, moules-frites and chocolate. Their lovely beer is fairly well known, thankfully, but their nightlife and cocktail scene is very much a well kept secret. Given the multicultural nature of the place, there’s a huge amount of variation in the types of venue available, so you’re sure to find something to your taste.

Top bars:

L’Archiduc (Antoine Dansaert 6, 1000 Brussels), Crystal Lounge (Avenue de la Toison d’Or 40, 1050 Brussels)

Bucharest, Romania

Not many people would consider Romania a hot nightlife location, associating it rather with Dracula and communism, not exactly a winning combination for a top notch cocktail culture. In reality the city has been going from economic strength to strength over the past decade, with one of the strongest growth rates in Europe. The city is a hotchpotch of different styles as a result of a dictatorship with a penchant for Western architecture (which earned the city the nick-name of ‘the Paris of the East’) and extensive war damage that resulted in new modern buildings popping up in the middle of medieval squares. Similarly, the culture is a highly colourful mix of traditional Romanian and international, with a strong jazz and Blues scene there. As the city strives to assert its presence on the European nightlife landscape, its cocktail bars are particularly sought after, with some really exciting bars, some of which go above and beyond the standard call of the performance aspect of making cocktails, including costume accessories, and one bar that even boasts a young Russian girl squeezing lemon into your mouth with her teeth. Clearly what all cocktails have been lacking…

Top bars:

Déja vu (Bälcescu Boulevard), Avantgarde (Str. Luigi Cazzavilan 24), Fratelli (1-3 GLODENI Street, Bucharest 2)

Manchester, UK

Manchester has always been a hub for pop artists, and is generally recognised (albeit unofficially) as Britain’s second largest city, so it’s not really surprising that it’s a top location for a great night out. The party city over did things a little bit in the late 80s / early 90s, exemplified by the decline and fall of the legendary Hacienda club, but has been quick to re establish itself as a vibrant location. Its cocktail scene is going from strength to strength, with some very exciting creations on offer. Definitely worth a trip.

Top bars:

Rosso Restaurant and Bar (43 Spring Gardens, M2 2BG), Obsidian (18-24 Princess Street , M1 4NB), Socio Rehab (Edge Street, Northern Quarter, M4 1HQ)



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