Hanoi may be more than 1,000 years old, but the Vietnamese city has probably never been more lively. The country’s northern capital has always showcased its rich multicultural past, with outdoor street hawkers and Chinese temples juxtaposed with villas built during the French colonial regime and modern shopping malls.
A historically conservative city, Hanoi is 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.
From a rooftop gin den to a craft beer joint with comedy shows, these are some noteworthy places to drink in Hanoi.
A four-story upscale wine bar in the expat-heavy West Lake neighborhood, 88 Lounge offers wines from regions around the world. For some quick and easy picks, sommelier Hai Ha puts together a rotating list 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 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 has thoughtful cocktails spotlighting local ingredients, as well as a 600-bottle wine list. Try the standout Pho cocktail, which fuses gin and Cointreau with pho flavorings like star anise, cardamom, cinnamon and lime.
Gin fans can get their fix at this rooftop bar in the heart of Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter. The bar 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.
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 beside picturesque Truc Bach Lake, the bar is a great place to meet for after-work drinks and catch the sunset.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
Taking its name from a Vietnamese phrase meaning “I’ll go by car,” this low-lit café-meets-gastropub caters to Hanoi’s local and expat literati. Gothic in design and Bohemian in atmosphere, its 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.
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.