Close Menu
Top 10

Top 5 bars in… Hamburg

Hamburg may play second fiddle to Germany’s capital, Berlin, but it is an excellent destination for the discerning drinker, writes James Lawrence.

*This feature was originally published in the March 2018 issue of The Spirits Business

Let’s deal with the drawbacks first: Hamburg’s inclement weather makes Manchester look like a sun­-drenched paradise, while arch rival Berlin greedily devours the best of Germany’s bartending talent. But these are minor quibbles compared with what’s on offer in the city where both The Beatles and melancholic Brahms honed their skills.

Hamburg’s nightlife scene is young and dynamic, and also as old as its historic harbour. Underground and above ground, in the skies and on water, the city’s diverse and exciting bar scene can easily compete with the world’s best.

The infamous red light district of St Pauli is one of the most popular places in Europe for a raucous night out. The Reeperbahn is home to strip joints, neon lights and stag parties galore, but there is a certain appeal to the madness and frenetic energy of the wider St Pauli area on a Saturday night – although discerning cocktail lovers should probably look elsewhere.

The nearby district of Sternschanze offers a much more sedate, sophisticated vibe. Just a few streets beyond Sternschanze you’ll find the multi­cultural Karoviertel, renowned for its trendy cafés and cocktail bars – a million miles away from the tourist cliché that is the Reeperbahn.

Naturally, Hamburg also boasts its fair share of luxury hotels, complete with obligatory cocktail bars and international bartenders. However, unlike in some other cities, the five-star hotels in Hamburg do not boast the monopoly on upscale mixology – classy décor and bespoke creations can be found all over the city, including the legendary Goldfischglas and Le Lion Bar de Paris.

But even if this doesn’t satisfy your needs (unlikely though that is), the River Elbe offers even more options, with numerous ships serving as floating bars and clubs. The Feuerschiff – a former lightship – is renowned for its excellent live music, while MS Stubnitz – a relic of the Cold War – now serves as a floating music club. Proof indeed that when it comes to varied nightlife, Hamburg has few peers.

.Click through the following pages to discover the top five bars in Berlin.

Le Lion Bar De Paris

Rathausstrasse 3

A small venue with a massive personality, Le Lion Bar de Paris has appeared in all six of the World’s 50 Best Bars polls, positioning it in fifth place in the event’s all-timer list.

A stylish, immaculately chic lounge bar, Le Lion’s bespoke cocktails are as legendary as the venue itself.

Skyline Bar Zoup

Empire Riverside Hotel, Bernhard-­Nocht-­Straße 97

If you can forgive the omnipresent tourists, Skyline Bar 20up boasts floor-­to-­ceiling windows and unsurpassed views of the Elbe, St Pauli and Hamburg’s iconic harbour.

It’s certainly a place to see and be seen; a rigidly strict dress code is enforced, so be sure to arrive the smarter side of casual if you want to get in. But cocktails, service and music are all top notch.


Paul­-Roosen­-Straße 27

You have to love Clockers – on the ground floor, the owners have created a Narnia­-inspired forest with moss growing on the walls, mysteriously glowing lights, and a tree across from the illuminated bar.

Still, it’s not all about looks; the cocktails, while fairly expensive, are first rate, and the bartenders are experts at crafting bespoke creations based on your preferences.

Bar Du Nord

Dorotheenstraße 33

A Hamburg institution, Bar du Nord attracts a mixed crowd, looking for either a quiet drink in the week or a more lively party on the weekends, when the bar fills to capacity.

But despite the weekend crowds, the very amiable bartenders manage to keep things remarkably smooth, and the service is among the friendliest in the city.

Atlantic Bar

Hotel Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg, An der Alster, 72-­79

With its Art Deco canvas, live piano music and exclusive smokers’ lounge, the Atlantic Bar exudes effortless class.

Formality and style intermingle to offer discerning barflies a sophisticated evening, complete with superlative cocktails, service and, of course, soothing music in the background.

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No