If your preferred mode of travel involves sidling up to a bar, you’re going to love this ‘best of’ list of bars visited during my travels in 2017.
So, Europe, you’ve got some great bars. And Trieste, you might have the most endearing set of bars I’ve ever come upon in a city.
My Best of 2017 series continues with a look at the best bars (excluding London) I helped to prop up this year. My list of best London bars will follow shortly.
Please note, this list merely reflects how I chose to spend my time during the year and is comprised of well established and brand new venues as well as businesses that are somehow related to where work and play took me.
Items appear in alphabetic order, not ranked.
Antico Caffe San Marco
Via Cesare Battisti, 18, 34125 Trieste, Italy
Founded in 1914, destroyed during the first World War but reopened soon after, this historic café, bar, bookshop, restaurant and pasticceria is as famous for some of its former regulars (namely James Joyce) as it is for its gorgeous Vienna Secession interiors, frescos and accoutrements. Thing is though, San Marco isn’t some antiquated space preserved in aspic for tourist. It’s still a smart place for a quality espresso or classic cocktail.
14 Place du Solencon, 16100 Cognac, France
Bar Luciole is a relaxing and pared down venue set near the banks of Cognac’s Charente River and recently co-launched by drinks industry superstar Tony Conigliaro (Bar Termini, Bar with No Name, and Untitled) and bartending wunderkind Guillaume Le Dorner. As you might expect, Bar Luciole specialises in cocktails made with the local claim to fame as their key ingredients.
Buffet da Siora Rosa
Piazza Attilio Hortis 3, 34123 Trieste, Italy
The coolest neighbourhood bar I’ve ever stumbled into – compact, quaint and homey Siora Rosa is everything an outsider would want for a “remember that little place in” food and drink experience, and all a local could ask for with respect to having an inexpensive just round the corner eatery. When you go (and trip to Trieste without so much as a quick drink here would be lacking) let the bartender decide your wine for you and definitely have something to eat. I recommend a beautifully basic panino of prosciutto cotto in crosta (cooked ham in crusty bread) with generous shavings of fresh horseradish. It shouldn’t set you back more than €4.
Scheepvaartkwartier, Rotterdam, Netherlands – address provided with booking
An otherwise nondescript townhouse door with a brass plaque reading “Dr Rotterdam” and appearing to have the Rod of Asclepius (you know the serpent-and-staff symbol associated with the doctors and the Hippocratic Oath) on it – that’s all that stands between the crush of 21st century media saturation and having a great drink coupled with an actual conversation. Upon closer observation it’s not the Rod of Asclepius, but a martini glass with a serpent wrapped round it as the apt logo for this speakeasy where no mobiles or cameras are allowed past the entrance. Inside, Dr Rotterdam is a small dimly lit bar where bartenders wear white coats and are happy to prescribe remedies for you. The “doctor” shtick pretty much stops there. The drinks are top notch, as are the mixologists’ skills.
O Gato Negro
Rúa da Raíña, 15702 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
This low key and mellowed-out cubbyhole located down a winding little cobbled alleyway in the Old Town of Santiago de Compostela is an ideal destination for casual drinks (such as a bowl – yes a bowl – of Albariño served from a jug) and local fare along the lines of empanada de pulpo (octopus pie) and caldo gallego, a hearty soup of white beans, bitter greens, potatoes and cabbage.
More of the Best of 2017 to follow!