Traveling is exciting for a variety of reasons, from seeing historical landmarks to eating in decadent restaurants to wandering the streets of your destination. But it’s also important to take a step back from your sightseeing to mingle and live like the locals from time to time.
Watering holes offer atmospheres that engage you with the local flavor. We’ve done our research and picked some of the best watering holes to soak up the culture, strike up a conversation and have the most amazing beverages of your life. So grab a drink, kick back and daydream about your next vacation in one of these eight awesome destinations where the cocktail of your life awaits you…
Cavour 313, Rome, Italy
When in Rome, red wine is probably the most abundant drink on the market – so, when in doubt, order the house wine. Typically, the best watering holes have little to no obvious advertising, so finding them can be difficult. Cavour 313 definitely fits that mold with no sign or visible door. Once you find this local favorite, be ready for a wine list with more than 1,000 varieties. Fortunately, the expert and friendly staff will help you decide which wine from the otherwise overwhelming list is right for you. In true Italian style, the cold cuts, cheese and dessert offerings pair fantastically with your reasonably priced glass of wine.
Insider’s tip: Try the Brunello de Montalcino – an Italian classic red made with 100 percent Sangiovese.
Brendan Behan Pub, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Boston is a huge beer town filled with big personalities and cultural flair. Prepare for thick Boston accents discussing local sports teams at Brendan Behan Pub, where the walls are lined with historical Boston paraphernalia. For a taste of the city and its people, try this townie hangout, a hole in the wall with only the city’s best brews on tap. The bartenders are incredibly helpful and will direct you to the beer that’s right for you.
Insider’s tip: While this pub has a full bar (with lots of whiskey), this is truly a great spot for beer, beer and more beer.
Glass, Paris, France
Glass is a small space with dark wooden floors where the locals sit for hours. The inviting atmosphere, friendly security and helpful staff make this a top spot for all Parisians and visitors in the know. Enjoy a live DJ and sip on well-rounded cocktails and artisan beer all while eating a gourmet hot dog. This spot fills up quickly with the local chic crowd ordering novelty drinks. Stop by for affordable drinks and mingle with the hip and funky regulars.
Insider’s tip: Try a dressed up beer – think flavors of mezcal, ginger, grapefruit and lime mixed with domestic and delicious beer.
Civil Liberties, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
While Civil Liberties is a relatively new establishment, it’s channeling the speakeasy era. Don’t ask for a drink menu as there isn’t one. Just chat with one of the three owners/bartenders about what you like and, voila, a custom concoction just for you. Not in a cocktail mood? No worries. They will happily serve you a local beer, too, and share history and stories along with the drinks. Since there is no formal kitchen, plan for cheese-plate level snacks (not a meal). But you know you will be welcome thanks to the pineapple sign outside that marks the bar’s entrance. After all, it’s the international symbol of hospitality.
Insider’s tip: Try to get a seat at the long bar as there is no table service. You will get more quality time with the bar staff too!
High Five, Tokyo, Japan
High Five is an intimate bar tucked away in the heart of Tokyo with no real menu, forcing you to interact with the bartenders and diverse characters that frequent this watering hole. Strike up a conversation with the incredibly talented and knowledgeable bartenders who have elevated cocktail-making to an art form as they blend, pour and inspect their beverages with precision and passion. This is a local favorite, cash-only spot that’s an absolute must on your Tokyo to-do list.
Insider’s tip: Order The Bamboo, a blend of sherry, vermouth and orange bitters, to get the full picture of the bartenders’ skills.
Bramble, Edinburgh, Scotland
Like most good watering holes, Bramble can be difficult to find, but the hunt is definitely worth it. This bar takes cocktails pretty seriously and is known for its quirky style, great atmosphere and exquisite beverages. Once inside, you’ll find yourself among exposed brickwork, dimly lit nooks and fur blanketed lounges in a tiny space with an intimate atmosphere that invites conversation with the hip locals and extremely passionate bartenders.
Insider’s tip: Try the local favorite – the Golden Delicious Sour, a tart blend of gin, absinthe, apple and ginger syrup.
Green Door, Berlin, Germany
The highly reviewed Green Door is a tucked away tavern where veteran locals take their drinking seriously. You’ll have to ring a doorbell behind an actual green door to enter this exclusive bar, but you’ll be glad you did. Find yourself in an intimate setting with a retro look and feel among a true group of regulars drinking classically German cocktails.
Insider’s tip: Order the famous house Green Door cocktail, a refreshing mix of champagne, lemon, sugar and mint.
The Nightjar, London, England
The Nightjar has steadily been one of London’s favorite speakeasies with live music, unbeatable staff and rare cocktails. The gorgeous interior and comfortable seating creates an inviting atmosphere to kick back and enjoy a well-rounded menu of tasty libations. The list is divided into historical eras, which inspires questions that the staff is happy to answer. Not only are staff members attentive to your cocktail needs, they also put on a theatrical performance when crafting your drink via dry ice, fire and garnishes. The Nightjar is a great spot that’s not too well known by tourists, so you’ll be right there in the know with the locals.
Insider’s tip: Make sure you have a reservation for this spot due to its popularity with locals.
Featured image: Brooke Parker