If checking out the bar scene in your destination tends to be a vacation highlight, why not hit ones frequented by locals?
Going to these bars isn’t just about drinking, said Camille Ralph Vidal, the Global Brand Ambassador for the French elderflower liqueur St-Germain. “You’ll also get to mingle with the people who live in town and get a feel for the destination’s night life,” she said.
Here, Ralph Vidal shares her advice.
Use social media to find hotspots
Ralph Vidal suggested posting a query on Facebook for ideas on the must-hit bars in the city you’re visiting. “I’ve found many incredible bars around the world through my social network,” she said.
Skip hotel bars
Yes, some hotel bars around the world are well-known, but they usually aren’t where the locals drink, and they’re certainly not budget friendly.
Chat with bartenders
Bartenders, including ones who work at your hotel or in any of the restaurants you try while traveling, can give the best advice on the bars you shouldn’t miss. Ralph Vidal has tapped bartenders for suggestions on numerous occasions, including a recent trip to Sydney. “The bartender at my hotel gave me a list of his favorite bars, and the next day, I ran into him at one of them and ended up having a great time drinking with him and his friends,” she said.
Peruse food and bar websites
Well-regarded sites likes Eater, Barchick and PunchDrink are trusted sources for finding out about the bars most tourists don’t know about. Some “even have posts on the dos and don’ts of a particular bar and give tips on the drinks to order there,” Ralph Vidal said.
Don’t always believe negative online reviews
Reviews on Yelp and Trip Advisor may seem like a useful way to discover unknown bars, but keep in mind that unflattering reviews aren’t always an accurate reflection of that bar. “Many online reviews are written by out-of-towners, who might not understand the culture of the bar,” Ralph Vidal said.
Taste local spirits
Almost every country, or even city, is known for a particular drink or spirit, whether its sake in Japan, whisky in Scotland or tequila or mezcal in Mexico. On your lineup of bars to hit, Ralph Vidal advised finding at least one famous for the local specialty. Tokyo, for example, has some bars that serve only sake and have a menu with more than a hundred varieties. Mexico City has several bars where tequila-based cocktails have won awards at international competitions. “These bars aren’t necessarily where locals go every day, but they are popular for special nights out, and going to them is a fun way to see them when they’re in a celebratory mood,” Ralph Vidal said.