Hanoi may be more than 1,000 years old, but the Vietnamese city has never been more lively. The country’s northern capital has always proudly showcased its rich multicultural past, with outdoor street hawkers and Chinese temples juxtaposed against French colonial villas and modern shopping malls.
A historically conservative city, Hanoi is finally loosening up these days, thanks in part to Vietnam’s rapid economic growth and a surge in international tourism. In 2017, city officials announced plans to do away with Hanoi’s infamous midnight curfew. And while Saigon in the south is still more of a round-the-clock party destination, Hanoi can certainly hold its own when it comes to quality cocktails, beer and wine in relaxed atmospheric bars.
A four-story upscale wine bar in expat-heavy West Lake neighborhood, 88 Lounge showcases the finest from wine-producing regions all around the world, from France and Italy to South Africa and New Zealand. For some quick and easy picks, sommelier Hai Ha puts together a regular somm selection featuring his top bottle recommendations. Beyond the wine, you’ll find a menu of food that skews Western, with pair-ready plates like cured meats, lemongrass risotto and tuna steak. Check the website for special wine-tasting events.
Founded in the late ’90s as a cultural gathering place, the historic Press Room restaurant is an elegant place to kick back and rub shoulders with Hanoi’s political and business heavyweights. Helmed by bartender Pham Tien Tiep, Vietnam’s first-ever contestant in the Diageo World Class competition, the restaurant’s La Plume bar and lounge touts thoughtful cocktails spotlighting local ingredients, as well as a 600-bottle wine list. Stop by during the day for breakfast and lunch, and come back for an evening apéritif before a night on the town. Don't forget to try Pham's standout Pho cocktail, fusing gin and Cointreau with traditional pho flavors like star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and lime.
Gin fans can get their fix at this rooftop bar sitting right in the middle of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Located in the heart of the city’s historic center, Mad Botanist offers more than 100 gin labels from around the world, along with a selection of juniper-forward cocktails to sip while enjoying views of the adjacent St. Joseph’s Cathedral. Real gin nerds can also sidle up to the marble bar for a gin tasting menu paired with Thomas Henry tonic and bespoke garnishes.
Taking its name from a Vietnamese phrase meaning “I’ll go by car,” this low-lit café-meets-gastropub is an all-day establishment catering to Hanoi’s local and expat literati. A daytime coffee setup gives way to excellent cocktails and seasonally rotating wines by night, complemented by a sophisticated menu of food from chef Hubert Barberis’ kitchen, ramen bar and sushi counter. Gothic in design and Bohemian in atmosphere, Tadioto is equally apt for a casual afternoon coffee or an intimate dinner date.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
The Unicorn Pub
A rare bar loved by locals and expats alike, The Unicorn Pub is a relaxed dive with strong cocktail sensibilities. Traditional flavors are well-represented on the cocktail menu, with drinks ranging from the rum-based Clam Sour, mimicking the umami notes of Vietnam’s famed steamed clams, to the O Mai, a boozy riff on a classic Southeast Asian apricot dessert.
Inspired by the Japanese tradition of standing bars, or tachinomiya, Standing Bar is a 19-tap draft beer and cider bar with a menu of shareable plates. The beer here is all local, sourced from the best craft breweries across Vietnam, including Fuzzy Logic, Pasteur Street and Phat Rooster. Located right beside picturesque Truc Bach Lake, the bar is a great place to meet for after-work drinks and catch the sunset.