Discovering must-go bars and pubs in Hanoi

Serving from beer, cocktail to wine or playing from pop, rock, acoustic, jazz to techno, each bar & club contributes to the diverse color to the night life in the city.

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Polite Pub

Only two decades ago, bars and pubs in Hanoi were rarely seen. But today, hundreds are open.

Serving from beer, cocktail to wine or playing from pop, rock, acoustic, jazz to techno, all in chilling or vibrating ambiance, each contributes to the diverse color of the night life in the city.

Polite Pub - 5B Bao Khanh, Hoan Kiem Dist.

Although bars and cafes are mushrooming everywhere in Hanoi, Polite, one the oldest pubs in the city, is still beating most of the others in terms of  familiarity, thanks to it’s posh style. 

The pub was rearranged in a typical bar of  the early 20th century. In fact, it reminds the bar of Rick Blaine in the classic movie Casablanca. Black and white pictures on the wall and vintage movies played on the TV right at the entrance and 1950-1960s’ music adds more classic touch to the place. 

Particularly, the menu is unique. The wide range of cocktails is offered following a timeline of  the cocktail history with a brief introduction and components of each. Along with basic and popular drinks, craft cocktails are also provided, inspired from celebrities of the 20th century like The Tramp (Charlie Chaplin), Churchill, Hemingway, and Scot & Zeda… 

A diversified selection of American whiskey, brandy, wines and cigars are also available. 

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Polite Pub

Binh Minh Jazz Club - 1 Trang Tien, Hoan Kiem Dist.

Binh Minh Jazz Club (behind the Opera House) is obviously the first choice for jazz lovers in Hanoi. It was the first jazz club to open in the capital, decades ago by Quyen Van Minh, a professional saxophonist and lecturer at the Hanoi Conservatory Music, out of his love for jazz and desire to popularize the music which is still sounding weird  to many Vietnamese. 

After moving to a smaller place that was closer to the city center, it now has more customers every night hearing spontaneous and inspiring jazz, especially at the weekends. 

Together with father-and-son live performances from Minh and Dac (Minh’s son), other local and international jazz artists also have been invited here regularly, making the place busy every night with improvised melodies of passionate artists and attentive audience.  

L’Apero Hanoi - 109 Trinh Cong Son, Tay Ho Dist.

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L’Apero

When you open the door of L’Apero, it takes you to a wine cellar. From the design of the bare-brick wall and ranges of bottles to the cozy atmosphere with a nice view over a small lake, it provides a cool chill out with the best wine all over the world. 

The menu offers wine only but they number in the hundreds, both red and white, from  countries famed for viniculture like France, Spain, Italy, the US, Chile, and Australia. The open music player allows guests to pick their favorite songs as they sip on their wine. 

It’s also become a popular venue for events like cocktail parties, birthday parties, and meetings, with seating for 15 to 50 people. Prices start at VND75,000 (US$3.2) per glass and VND300,000 (US$12.9) per bottle.

The Unicorn Pub - 2A Hang Than, Ba Dinh Dist

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About 5 minutes driving from the city’s iconic Hoan Kiem Lake, Unicorn Pub is where it is whispered in the ear for a good cocktail. 

There is a selection of cocktails here, including unique ones invented by local creative bartenders based on the Vietnamese liquor and special ingredients or even a culture story, such as Pho cocktail for which  his bartender won the “Best Bartender in Vietnam” award in the country in 2012, Com (green rice flakes) cocktail – Vietnam’s best cocktail 2015, Omai (dried fruits) cocktail or Crazy Hanoi Traffic cocktail (secret mix). 

Every week, new cocktail recipes are invented and offered for free tasting to all guests, usually on Friday. There are live music shows of Jazz, Blues or Acoustic at the weekend, adding more flavor to the place. 

Docker Natura - 51/52 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho Dist.

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With a typical American style for its dark, decorous and varied themes, including billiard, music, lounge, pub, and somehow Vietnamese street style on the front, Dockers Natura is usually packed by both locals and expats living around the area. It is very animated at night with different kinds of live music, such as reggae, disco, house, techno, rock n roll, etc.

More interestingly, the audience could enjoy not only the shows performed by different international artists but also join them to perform or dance, bringing a spontaneous and lively atmosphere here. There are two pool tables, including one in the VIP room which is more private and quiet, perfect for pool fans. 

The lounge style outdoor in the front is for those who want more air and quieter. Together with popular drinks, the beer menu here is diverse , including some highlights of local beer, black draught Czech beer, Budweiser, Saint Omer, Bernard..., all in one for a good night.

Craft Beer Pub - 26 Hang Buom, Hoan Kiem Dist.

Designed like an old French farm with a lot of wood furniture, Craft Beer Pub is like a spot to stop for relaxing with a beer. Located right in the city centre, it is one of a few places offering a wide range of beer, especially new craft beers on tap. 

The local ingredients combined with the Western formula and technique of beer brewery are used for special products favored by both the locals and internationals in recent years, such as Pasteur IPA, Barrett, Furbrew, C-Brewmaster, etc. 

Thanks to the large screen and comfortable nature-friendly space, it is also the familiar rendezvous for sport fans. Another plus is various kinds of burgers and fingers food offering all day and the buy one burger get one free every Thursday.

1900 Dancing Club - 8 Ta Hien, Hoan Kiem Dist.

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Ideally located in the centre of one of the most animated streets in the city’s heart, 1900 is a hotspot for young fans of electronic music and dancing. With the area that tripling other bars and pubs in the small zone, the bar features three major spaces. Sofas right behind the door is to sit, drink or smoke shisha in relax. 

Next to it is a big round bar for those who want to watch bartenders showing their skills and shake not only the mixture of drinks but also their body in the live deep, soulful and house music besides a big screen with light, like a professional dancer. It is where young hearts gather to follow the music beat on their steps with passion and fun. 

Meanwhile, those who prefer more chill could go to the second floor to leisurely sip their drink and get a view over the lively atmosphere below. Hanoitimes

Linh Pham

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