What if you’re traveling through Chiang Mai, Thailand or Cairo, Egypt, and get the sudden urge to sip a high-quality martini?
While there are great cocktails bars in these places, it’s also much easier to get very unlucky with your martini selection, so we thought we’d help out with that.
Below we review some of the top cocktail bars in South America, Asia and Africa where you can get your martini fix while also enjoying some of the most vibrant cultures on Earth.
Lima, Peru is home to some of the finest fusion foods and bars in South America (and the world, for that matter). It has several hip and trendy neighborhoods, and I had the pleasure to live in Barranco, Lima’s up-and-coming art district. Bar 55 was hands-down the best Martini I had while in Lima.
Most bartenders at Barra 55 speak English, and it has a very upscale speakeasy vibe (there is no sign above the door).
Peru is famous for its pisco; if you happen upon a slow night at Barra 55, see if they’ll put together this Peruvian take on the classic martini;
- 1 1/2 oz. Pisco Acholado
- 1 oz. London Dry Gin
- 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc
- dash of orange bitters
- lemon peel for garnish
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Quick! When I say Argentina, you say? Wine. Of course. Everyone think wine when they think Argentina. But the capital city of Buenos Aries is unique; it is a fusion of Italian immigrant culture and Latin American flavor. And if you’re in Buenos Aires, Doppelganger is where you go for a martini.
Doppelganger has an extensive menu rich in martini selection and includes exotic selections like the Hot & Dirty Martini (vodka with black pepper, dry vermouth, pickle & green olive jalapeno) and the Martinez (gin, red vermouth, Maraschino liqueur, Angostura bitters, lemon peel). A must for martini lovers in the vibrant port city of Buenos Aires.
Medellin is a city that has risen from the proverbial ashes, and has completely transformed its image from an Escobar stronghold to an incredibly hip, modern city. If you find yourself in the El Poblado neighborhood of Medellin, check out Alambique for a cocktail, and maybe even dive into a lychee martini.
Alambique has no sign; simply two blue doors that have the numbers “10” and “6”. Located on the third floor, Alambique has nightly live music that leans toward jazz and a menu of craft cocktails that add to the whole Haight-Ashbury vibe of the bar.
While you’re there, grab a Colombian signature take on the martini, the lychee martini;
- 1 1/2 oz vodka
- 1 oz peach schnapps
- 1 oz white cranberry juice
- 1 oz lychee juice
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai is home to digital nomads and backpackers alike, and is Thailand’s gateway to its mountainous and untouched jungle areas. But unlike it’s ritzy cousin, Bangkok, Chiang Mai doesn’t offer quite as many upscale cocktail bars made by artisan bartenders.
Check out Thailand’s take on the martini, a Thai mango martini;
- 1 oz dry vermouth
- 2 oz vodka
- 1 oz mango puree
Particularly loved by expats the world over, Shanghai, China is home to some of the most interesting fusions of culture in all of Asia. Its cosmopolitan and modern vibe have given way to some of the best cocktail bars in all of Asia.
Bar Module is one such cocktail bar, and is renowned for its martini. Opened by Mongolian-born, Japan-raised, English-speaking (and you thought YOU were unique, eh?) bartender Moe, the bar boasts an entire eight seats. You’ll make friends pretty quickly in this cozy, wholly unique bar.
Motown floats through the speakers, and the shelves are lined with vintage bottles and ornate trinkets. The bar’s cocktail bar changes based on the seasonal fruit offerings, but you’ll always be able to ask for a lychee martini. Unlike Medellin, Colombia however, China’s lychee martini features lychee liqueur.
St. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg is the “San Francisco” of Russia. Or at least, as San Francisco as Russia would get. You won’t find many alcohol rehab options here; home to many of Russia’s younger population, St. Petersburg has spawned many fine cocktail bars to meet the demands of Russia’s increasingly western-inspired population.
Like many upscale cocktail bars, Apotheke does not have a sign in front of its doors. However, if you head in the general area of Apotheke, look for the red cross outside that signals you’ve found it. Inside you’ll find a cozy U-shaped bar that seats only 20 people, so get there early if you can.
Apotheke doesn’t have a menu; simply give the bartender your order and they’ll craft you the perfect drink. And if you’re a gin-lover and scared off by the thought of “Russia” and “vodka”, breathe deep and relax; you’ll be sure to find several fine gins at Apotheke.
Johannesburg, South Africa
Johannesburg boasts an incredible art and music scene, along with gardens, festivals and more. It is one of Africa’s most vibrant cities and home to some of Africa’s most visionary entrepreneurs.
Like most bars we’ve covered, seating is very limited, so best to get there early.
Cairo is a fascinating place; it blends the modern world with the birthplace of one of the most powerful historic civilizations to have ever existed. Here you’ll find streets filled with donkey-carts and lined with artisans. It’s an electric atmosphere, and an incredibly unique place in the world.
Owned by Baky Hospitality, one of Egypt’s largest hospitality companies, Shinko is one of the only premier cocktails bars in Cairo where you can find world-renowned bartenders crafting signature cocktails. They actually recently hosted two bartenders from the world’s top 50 bars, and Shinko is where you’re sure to find the exact martini you’re looking for.
Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them.