The best bars in the world

Time Out editors across the world share their top drinking holes

Time Out editors from across the world share the bars, and the drinks that best encapsulate their cities. 
Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty, Kazakhstan

A watermelon-strawberry juice at Gentlemen’s Quality Bar Asia

Celebrate a not-quite-bygone age of men's club - it's hard to tell if Almaty's shrine to testosterone is tongue-in-cheek dandyism or genuine throwback. (Possible clue: they serve the best non-alcoholic watermelon-strawberry juice in town…)

One of the most popular and distinctive bars in the Kazakh capital, Gentlemen’s Quality Bar Asia, themed to resemble an old-fashioned men's club, is where male drinkers of refined taste go to exhibit an idealised version of Kazakh manhood - or where, perhaps, women go to laugh at it. Whatever the male-chauvinist-kitsch value, the concept has been elegantly executed throughout, with each of the bar's many nooks and partitions rendered in sumptuous, leathery parlour-room detail.

Meanwhile, the imposing drinks list has been built to impress. The bar serves a choice of over 400 cocktails, with the cocktail menu updated on a monthly basis. In autumn and GQB is the place to find warming punches, grogs and mulled wines (recommended is an interesting non-alcoholic version, mixing pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, berry syrup, plus fruits and spices). But, of course, real men prefer the classics – which in Almaty means whiskey. In Gentlemen's Quality Bar Asia you'll find more than 200 varieties. Maybe order one as a chaser with your man-sized watermelon-strawberry juice - Kseniya Mikhailova, editor-in-chief, Time Out Almaty

Dostyk 248, Almaty, Kazakhstan. +7 727 387 04 03.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

'The Walking Dead' at Hiding in Plain Sight

fearsome cocktail 'the walking dead' offers taste of liquid danger in the oldest part amsterdam. Based on the potent classic the 'Zombie', HPS’s secret recipe is served (and then set on fire) in a giant glass skull, and features three different types of rums including Bacardi 151. Bar-imposed limit: one per night.

On a corner in the north-eastern outskirts of the Jodenbuurt, cocktail gem HPS lives up to its name. Upon entry, the small ground-level bar and cramped seating area don’t seem to offer much more than the staff’s smiles. Up a flight of steps, however, a luxuriantly louche leather-couch seating puts you on eye level with chalkboards full of chemistry notations above the bar. Flashes of florid wallpaper play backdrop to bookshelves and worn curiosities like an antique radio, pinned butterflies and pocket-watch motifs.

Beautifully turned-out staff members will presently appear bearing free water, massive, fresh green Cerignola olives and mixed nuts, along with a stack of exquisite letterpress-style menus. Although the bar looks fully stocked, aside from a short but respectable list of wines and a €5 bottled beer from Dutch brewer Swinckels, the menu is all about the 16 craft cocktails on offer, ranging from €8 to €16. The €16 price tag is reserved for house specialty, 'The Walking Dead', whose cinnamon sprinkles crackle and spark as the drink is set on fire at your table. Racier drinkers will find the concoction goes down a little too smoothly...

Luckily, the rest of the cocktails measure up to the same exacting standards, with house-concocted ingredients like strawberry-infused cachaça (in the 'Morango Fizz', €12) and popcorn-infused rum (the 'Cinema Highball', €8). If the sultry atmosphere has you craving fresh and fizzy, opt for the HPS Mule, an Asian-influenced taste of summer that incorporates vodka, ginger beer, orange and lime juices, house-made syrup and muddled cucumber. Good to know that, whatever the weather, a sip of summer is always at hand in this boozy hideaway. - Elysia Brenner, Time Out Amsterdam

HPS Rapenburg 18, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. +31 20 737 1890.

Bangalore, India

Bangalore, India

A 'Mangaa' at Monkey Bar

Monkeys adorn the walls at Monkey Bar – Bangalore's 'first gastropub', where local flavours are combined to make strange but wonderful concoctions. Order the jungle in a glass with their 'Mangaa' vodka cocktail…

There was much chatter when Monkey Bar opened its wide green doors to the public early in 2012. The brainchild of the city’s beloved culinary whizz, Manu Chandra, the place was touted as Bangalore’s first gastropub. On most evenings, it gets raucous fairly quickly – levels of bonhomie at shared tables rise with every round, and the place is unapologetically attached to its rowdy retro playlist.

The bartenders at Monkey Bar are inspired, turning local flavours into imaginative creations in a glass (or, equally likely, in a jar or copper tumbler). There’s the spicier-than-most-can-take it go guava, with vodka, lashings of chilli, coriander and mint, and the kokum ginger margarita, a frozen slushie made with tequila, tart local mangosteens, fresh ginger and black salt. We find ourselves going back for the 'Mangaa': raw mango spiked with cumin and a heady splash of vodka.

Monkey Bar goes a long way towards reviving Bangalore's ailing pub culture: it’s a friendly, informal joint that peddles out some kooky, experimental cocktails. Come in wearing what you like, take a seat where you find it, and make sure to make nice with the wizard behind the bar.- Amrita Gupta, assistant editor, Time Out Bengaluru

Monkey Bar 14/1, Wood Street, Bengaluru, India. +91 80 41116878.

Beijing, China

Beijing, China

A jar of Honey Ma Gold beer at Great Leap Brewing

A US brew laced with honey from the Great Wall and peppercorns from distant Sichuan province, Great Leap Brewing’s sweet-yet-fiery Honey Ma Gold is Beijing in a glass: a mix of old Eastern ingredients and modern Western techniques, enormously attractive to hipsters and, thanks to Great Leap’s location, intimately tied to the city’s winding hutong alleys. Plus it’s enormously alcoholic, just like a sizeable chunk of the city’s foreign population…

The bustling, tat-filled storefronts of Nanluoguxiang have made the street a magnet for tourists from around the world. But push past the glowing façades and into the knot of alleys down Jongying Hutong and you’ll find one of Beijing’s most idiosyncratic – but influential – beery haunts. Opened in 2010, Great Leap Brewing wasn’t the first place in Beijing to offer microbrewed beers in the city, but it did spark off a craze for home-brewing that has seen amateur hop-heads crafting ales all over the city.

Not that the pints served up at Great Leap are anything less than professional quality. Whether you’re sipping the sweetly malty Pale Ale #6 or the moreishly bitter Danshan Wheat – made with black tea from Danshan – you’re all but guaranteed high times (and a high ABV). They’re not cheap (the menu declines to list prices for a reason) but these are beers to be savoured anyway, not knocked back in a boozy rush. Indeed, such is the bar’s success with ale connoisseurs that founder Carl Setzer has even started hosting ‘how to brew’ classes (pictured).

It’s the setting that completes the package, though. Surrounded by 8ft-high walls, dotted with trees and tables and thankfully equipped with a mosquito zapper, Great Leap’s courtyard – located on Doujiao Hutong, down the west end of Jongying Hutong – is a great place to while away the summer. And while it’s a little less inviting in the colder months, the warmly friendly staff (well, save for Setzer, a man who’s in love with beer alone and seems to regard customers as a necessary evil) and comfy couches make the tiny interior space a fine place to hide as it gets colder.- James Wilkinson, editor, Time Out Beijing (English edition)

6 Doujiao Hutong, near Dianmenwai Dajie, Dongcheng district, Beijing, China. +86 10 5717 1399.

Chicago, USA

Chicago, USA

A shot of Jepson's Malort (and an Old Style) at the Rainbo Club

One thing divides real Chicago drinkers from the posers: the ability to put down a shot of Jepson's Malort, Chi-Town's medicinal, locally made booze. (The Old Style, a local beer, is there to cleanse the palate.)

The bittersweet reality of great little dives is that they often lose charm when overrun by masses of clingers-on. Somehow, this Ukrainian Village spot has managed to escape that fate. The Rainbo remains populated by the same mix of art-school students, art-school alums, art-school professors and, um, art-school wannabes, all of whom are in at least one band, and all of whom hold on to terra firma with cans of beer in one hand and a shot in the other, nodding along to everything from Aesop Rock to Black Sabbath.

Of course, sometimes posers do meander in to take a few turns in the photobooth (the pictures can serve as proof later that, no, really, they’re cool!). Here’s an easy way to suss them out: if they can take down a shot of Malort, they’re Chicago enough to stick around. If they can’t, well, there’s a sports bar down the street waiting to serve them a cosmo. - Amy Carr, executive editor, Time Out Chicago

1150 N Damen Ave, Ukrainian Village, Chicago, USA. +1 773 489 5999

Hong Kong

Hong Kong

A 'Red Sky Colour' at Sugar

With its commanding city views, Sugar is already proving popular among the Island East business crowd, who have long been starved of decent drinking holes. But it's more than accessible for the hoi polloi as well – and is set to become a popular outcrop on Hong Kong’s drinking scene.

Occupying the entire 32nd floor of the upscale hotel EAST is Sugar, an undeniably cool space that sells itself as a ‘bar + deck + lounge’, with phenomenal views across the city. To the north are the bright lights of Kwun Tong, with the vista swinging uninterrupted to the North Point skyline in the west, and out over the island’s often building-obstructed east. And from the outdoor deck you can see Quarry Bay extend toward Tai Tam Country Park. The bar's interior has been smartly designed to maximise the views. Ottomans and couches flow over three tiers; Sugar feels casual by day, a sexy futuristic capsule saturated with jazzy house beats by night.

The drinking options, as you’d expect from a first-rate hotel bar, are both abundant and excellent, particularly when it comes to cocktails. Unlike many first-rate hotel bars, they're not wincingly expensive. Their 'Forest Sour' (vodka, crème de mure, grapes, lemon, strawberry, maple syrup) is recommended – it's impressively fresh, balanced and distinctive. But for the superlative Hong Kong drinking experience, it has to be the 'Red Sky Colour' (comprising vodka, crème du cassis, rosé wine, raspberry honey, lime and ginger), sipped out on the deck, having raised a subtle toast to the sunset.- Mark Tjhung, editor, Time Out Hong Kong

2/F, EAST Hotel, 29 Tai Koo Shing Road, Hong Kong. +852 3968 3738.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey

Raki at Yakup 2

As Turks, we might flirt with other drinks from time to time, but we always come back around to our national drink: raki To get a feel for the most authentic rakıtables in Istanbul, head to Yakup 2, a slightly bohemian, slightly seedy meyhane (tavern) in Asmaliescit where the food is always good and the conversation lasts for hours…

Thanks in part to its ritual and its jargon, raki has always been a pillar of Istanbul’s eating and drinking culture. It’s made out of distilled dry grapes and the moment the clear, aniseed-smelling liquid meets with water, it takes on a cloudy white colour – hence its nickname in Turkish of ‘lion’s milk’. It is customarily enjoyed at a dinner table decked out with meze – predominantly white cheese and melon – alongside plenty of conversation.

And in Istanbul, Yakup 2 is the place to partake of all three. The venue's regulars include writers, poets, artists, journalists and, lately, a growing number of young people. What's attracting them is perhaps the place's simplicity – it adheres to the meyhane culture of old Istanbul without any embellishments or fuss. The menu at Yakup 2 is always the same; only the seafood changes depending on the season. Upon seating, you’re presented with a tray of meze so you can choose which ones to order, and – unlike at many of its competitors – everything that arrives at your table is fresh. Our recommendations for meze are the marinated whiting, köpoğu (an Aegean meze that includes cubed eggplant, tomato sauce and garlicky yogurt) and octopus salad, while the must-try warm starters are muska börek (triangular puff pastry with cheese or minced meat) and liver. In keeping with raki drinking culture, the music is kept to a very low volume so that trying to converse doesn’t become a chore.- Elif Eren Altıari, editor, Time Out Istanbul (Turkish edition)

Asmalıescit Sokak 35/37 Tünel, Beyoğu, Istanbul, Turkey. +90 0212 249 29 25.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

An 'Oh Boi' at Palate Palette

Blended Calamansi lime juice infused with a jaw-numbingly sour preserved plum – Palate Palette drops in a shot of rum that turns this common KL coffee shop drink into an alcoholic thirst quencher…

A colourful restaurant and bar housed in a colonial-era shophouse, Palate Palette is understated but cool. As its name suggests, it attracts a variegated creative crowd – artists, performers, musicians and the city’s culturati – but it manages to be neither pretentious nor intimidating. The interior complements its artistic inclination with whimsical wall murals, carousel horses and mismatched furniture. The upstairs space often hosts independent film screenings and music events (Palate Palette is one of the very few venues in KL that holds regular dubstep and reggae nights) while its outdoor seating welcomes pets.

Besides serving an inventive food and drinks menu, the bar is a great supporter of the city’s many subcultures, including body art, buskers and the LGBT community. But its big draw is the creativity that goes on behind the counter. If you've anaesthetised your tongue with our 'Oh Boi' recommendation, wake it up again with the fiery cili padi passion martini.- Lim Chee Wah, editor-in-chief, Time Out Kuala Lumpur

1 Jalan Mesui, off Jalan Nagasari, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. +603 2142 2148.

Los Angeles, USA

Los Angeles, USA

A 'Sazerac Fix' at Pour Vous

The 'Sazerac' is thought to be the oldest American cocktail, first blended in the mid-1800s when California was in its infancy. And at Melrose Avenue's Pour Vous bar, a heady mix of belle epoque Paris and golden-age Hollywood, it's conjured up using rye whiskey, lemon, bitters, pastis, evaporated cane, classic burlesque and a host of special effects...

An evening at Pour Vous is an immersion in sepia-toned, jazz-age Parisian salon – it's also one of the classiest cocktail outings in Tinseltown. Bring a date and grab a seat near the fireplace before 10pm when the place gets packed. It’ll soon be standing room only when unexpectedly a burlesque bewitching hour descends (literally) upon the crowd.

Reservations are encouraged but not necessary for a small group dressed in proper 'cocktail attire' which is the only way you're getting in. Dress code is enforced, the details of which (no T-shirts, hoodies, baseball hats, sneakers) are posted on their site and reiterated on a plaque at the entrance. Inside, blue and amber theatrical lighting illuminate various corners of a parlor-style room. The central fixture is a cozy fireplace that gives way to circular, café seating under a dome that could be construed as a miniature version of the Grand Palais.

An exemplary team of mixologists may surprise you with an aperitif not on the menu, such as 'Floc de Gascogne', a vin de liqueur fortified with Armagnac ($10). The cocktail list is simplified to feature tried-and-true staples (including our tip, the classic-with-a-twist 'Sazerac Fix' for $12) and some ingeniously experimental concoctions. The beautiful and the damned should try 'Le Samourai' ($14), a deadly mix of Armagnac, framboise, rhubarb and umami. - Jonathan Cristaldi, Time Out Los Angeles

5574 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, Los Angeles, USA. +1 323 871 8699.

London, UK

London, UK

A classic martini at The Connaught

‘Skyfall’ reminded everyone how brilliant a drink the martini actually is – a purist combination of smooth English spirit and aromatic French vermouth. But it never went out of fashion at The Connaught – the barmen at this super-luxury London hotel have been mixing them to the highest standard for decades.

The Connaught experience begins on the street outside with Tadao Ando’s shimmering water sculpture on Carlos Place. Glide past the doorman and you’ll be escorted by one of the suited staff to one of the best bars in London, redesigned by the renowned David Collins in 2007. Although the room retains traditional Edwardian features, it’s now atmospherically dusky in deep pastel tones. There's an overwhelming air of opulence, but anyone can walk in to this pleasantly egalitarian bar for a drink – no bookings are taken.

Although the drinks list is a joy, the ultimate Connaught cocktail is the martini. Choose your spirit (Tanqueray 10 is a fine London dry gin), and a barman with trolley will attend your table with an ice-filled crystal decanter in which to mix the martini in front of you. A wooden display case of apothecary-style glass bottles hold a selection of homemade bitters – licorice, grapefruit, lavender, for example – which add intriguing notes to the concoction. It’s expensive, of course (around £15), but service is impeccable whether you’re A-list or no-list, and it’s good value – a martini in The Connaught is an accessible taste of sophistication unmatched in the city. - Euan Ferguson, deputy chief sub-editor, Time Out London

Carlos Place, London, UK. +44 (0)20 7499 7070.

Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico

Pulque at Expendio de Pulques Finos los Insurgentes

Drink like the Aztecs with a measure of Mexico's indigenous grog, pulque – the milky fermented sap of the maguey plant. Mesoamericans in this part of the world considered it sacred, and you will too if you order it at Expendio de Pulques Finos los Insurgentes.

The bar may be a bit of a mouthful (locals condense it to la Pulcata), but it's an eclectic and kitsch place. It is a magnet for all sorts of people in the Roma Norte district at the heart of our huge capital. Preppy types resplendent in sports-casual, office clerks, dandy hipsters, tourists and students with their backpacks: all find their natural niche somewhere in this fiercely egalitarian establishment's three floors plus terrace. Aside from the pictures of musicians, the decor speaks of a shrine to local booze: there are maps of the Mexican Republic where that other sacred plant grows, the mezcal-providing agave, alongside painted legends and proverbs about pulque consumption.

And as you'd expect from this level of devotion, la Pulcata's attention to authentic detail is impressive – which is what makes it our top recommendation for the full pulque experience. Here the 'agua de las verdes matas' (water of the green plants) is served au naturale or in curados (flavored varieties) with, for example, oats, prickly pear or cherry, in half-, one- or two-litre jars. More than enough to drown your sorrows, get you chatting or get you dancing, depending on your initial state of mind.

If the viscosity, smell and taste of pulque are not your thing (they're not everyone's), the bar also lays on its house mezcal, and mezcal creams in an abundance of flavours, along with beers, spirits and wines: 'El que a este mundo vino y no toma vino, ¿a qué chingados vino?' asks the winelist ('Whoever who came to this world and don’t drink wine, why the fuck did they come?'). A very good question.

A word of warning, though: don't get so drunk that you forget about the anti-theft system – unless a waitress gives you a ticket to prove at the exit that your bill has been paid, they don't let you leave. No bad thing.- Paola del Castillo, Time Out México

Insurgentes sur 226, Roma, México, DF.

New York, USA

New York, USA

A 'Gin-Gin Mule' at the Pegu Club

Booze hounds can toss back a Manhattan at any bar on the planet these days. For a true New York tipple, swing by Audrey Saunders’s world-renowned Pegu Club and order a 'Gin-Gin Mule' – a vivacious elixir of homemade ginger beer with Tanqueray gin, fresh mint and lime juice. The contemporary classic helped usher in Gotham’s gin revival, along with America’s craft cocktail rebirth, and sips just as fine today.

The far-reaching influence of New York's reigning queen of cocktails, Audrey Saunders, is hard to measure. Her storied drinks den, the swank Pegu Club, begat many of New York's current bar-scene standard-bearers, including Death & Company, PDT and Mayahuel.

When the pioneering spot opened in 2005 – with 27 gins on the back bar and a cadre of pro drinks-slingers – the city was awash with vodka, cheap mixers and careless bartenders. Back then only hideaway joints like Milk & Honey offered artfully made tipples to a select few drinkers. It was Saunders who broke open the world of serious mixology to the masses with her capacious 90-seat lounge, accessible to any passers-by via a carpeted candlelit staircase.

In that second-floor sanctum, a long maple bar doubles as a stage for nimble bartenders, armed with hand-cracked ice, rare spirits and scholarly drinks knowledge. Perch there and choose from mighty classics (the namesake 'Pegu Club' cocktail) or signature quaffs (the zippy 'Gin-Gin Mule').

Even as young bucks churn out new hot spots around town, the legendary bar has kept its edge, maintaining a rigorous level of quality little seen elsewhere and even evolving over the years – rock and roll now breaks up the swing-era jazz soundtrack. It’s a deft blend of throwback craftsmanship with just the right amount of novelty: Welcome to New York boozing in the modern age. - Mari Uyehara, Food & Drink editor, Time Out New York

77 West Houston Street, New York, USA. +1 212 473 7348.

Paris, France

Paris, France

A fine Bordeaux at Le Baron Rouge

A glass of wine at a Parisian bar is an enduring classic; do it in style with a 1989 Château Angélus from Saint Emilion. Aged in oak barrels in one of the most prestigious vineyards of Bordeaux, it’s a rare and precious bottle – and Le Baron Rouge is one of the few wine bars where you’ll find it.

A superb little wine bar just around the corner from the Aligre market, Le Baron Rouge often welcomes hungry refugees at stall closing time. It’s no pompous den for snooty oenophiles, but rather an amiably down-to-earth working-class hangout, where drinking is a pleasure and the evening is to be enjoyed, often raucously. The tiny room is welcoming and atmospheric, its walls invisible behind rows and rows of bottles, and any spare space filled with wine barrels stacked from floor to ceiling. Those in the know bring their empties to refill – it’s cheaper than buying a new bottle, though you can do that as well, from an excellent selection. During the week, beware the crowded after-work apéro hour – along with pretty much everybody else, you’ll be stuck with drinking on the pavement outside. Food-wise, come on Sundays for oysters with Sancerre, or stick to a charcuterie board accompanied by a good robust red. - Camille Griffoulieres, Music & Nightlife editor, Time Out Paris

1 rue Théophile Roussel, 12th arrondissement, Paris, France. +33 (0)1 43 43 14 32.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Pinga at Bar do Gomez

Head to Rio's old colonial town for an artisanal pinga – Brazil's national drink, better known as cachaça – served by a friendly bunch who have been doing precisely that for years at Bar do Gomez. For 100 years, in fact, give or take a few...

Santa Teresa is one of the last bastions of old-world Rio. Amid beautiful, crumbling architecture, Gomez is the perfect spot for a considered nip of Brazil’s oldest drink, pinga, aka cachaça. The fiery warmth is also the perfect antidote to the ice-cold bottles of Original beer being served by the dozen.

Founded in 1919, the inimitable Bar do Gomez began life as a Spanish migrant's grocery store (hence its other name, Armazem São Thiago) and retains its idiosyncratic charms to this day, with jars of ancient-looking olives and tinned foods still lining the shelves above the bar.

Gomez has run the bar for years (though presumably not since 1919), making it a dependable local staple attracting toothless characters, dogs chasing cars at the crossroads and a gaggle of locals in various stages of inebriation. Deep-fried bolinhos (cod balls) and pasteis (shrimp pies) come highly recommended, washed down with a great chope (cold draft beer) and more than 60 types of cachaça. Emitting an authentic rough-and-ready charm, this is the essential Santa Teresa experience.
 - Doug Gray, editor, Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Rua Áurea 26, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. +55 21 2232 0822.

St Petersburg, Russia

St Petersburg, Russia

A shot of 'Foxy' at Mishka Bar

It may share its name with a LOLdog (Mishka the talking husky is a Russian internet phenomenon), but Mishka is one of the most interesting and significant drinking spots in St Petersburg. And for the cutting-edge SP experience, it's a cider, a 'Foxy' shot and a Kinder surprise...

On the embankment, and a sensation since it opened, Mishka has become an indispensable stopping-off point for St Petersburg's young and trendy on weekend evenings. It's the regular destination for both shot lovers and connoisseurs of quality music – world-class DJs are often on the bill – as well as the odd face locals will know from TV and the gossip columns. The music policy is nicely democratic nevertheless, and the PA system is open to anyone who wants to share the tracks from their iPods and good humour with other guests. Hard bartenders offer you Kinder surprises and excellent sandwiches with a broadest smile here. And the excellent cocktails come decorated with jelly bears.

Current top of the shots for the St Pete's cognoscenti is a 'Foxy' - vodka and Amaretto, which are downed by the dozen on weekend evenings. After a few of those, the huge colourful bull mosaic that dominates the decor can take on an alarming psychedelic, sometimes, animated aspect...

But the place is transformed by the light of day, when it becomes a place of calm rather than chaos. Salads, speciality toasted sandwiches and croissants are served. As an accompaniment you get flavored cocoa or cider. It's two quintessentially St Petersburg experiences rolled into one. - Taras Kovalchuk, Food & Drink editor, Time Out St Petersburg

Naberezhnaya Reki Fontanki 40, St Petersburg, Russia. +7 812 643 25 50.

São Paulo, Brazil

São Paulo, Brazil

Caipirinhas at Veloso

Join born-and-bred paulistanos kerbside, for creative caipirinhas at this low-key local favourite. Bar Veloso is where locals come for classic Brazilian snacks fuel long, laid-back nights of drinking, grazing and chatting.

Less than 50 feet from one of the traffic-choked arteries that keep São Paulo's seven-million-strong fleet of cars slowly circulating, you'll find a quiet residential street. Rua Conceição Veloso is home to one of the city's best-loved botecos – the low-key bars at the heart of our democratic food and drink culture. In the not-quite-sleepy suburb of Vila Mariana, Veloso is no secret: the bar's dozen or so tables squeezed into its compact, brightly lit interior are always packed, so expect to wait for a seat, or else join the throng – a casually attired crowd of all ages and all social strata – standing, chatting and grazing on the pavement outside. Waiters in white shirts and bow ties glide through the crowds with carefully balanced trays of chope – small glasses of ice-cold draft beer. 

The real draw, though, is Veloso's caipirinhas. The classic Brazilian concoction of cachaça, sugar, lime and ice is given an injection of São Paulo's creative spirit with weird and wonderful fruit combinations, such as cashew fruit and lime; star fruit and basil; lime with ginger; and our favorite, tangerine with chilli. To eat? The bolinho de camarão cremoso – a big, juicy prawn, covered in creamy Catupiry cheese and manioc mash, and deep-fried – will complete your São Paulo sensory induction. - Catherine Balston, deputy editor, Time Out São Paulo 

Rua Conceição Veloso 56, Vila Mariana, São Paulo, Brazil. +55 11 5572 0254.

Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

A 'Shaoxing Cavalry' at Yuan

A landmark new opening and a major stride forward in Shanghai’s surging drinks scene, Yuan is an experimental cocktail bar at the forefront of a new chapter in the city’s drinking culture. A night out in Shanghai these days feels more Chinese with bars relying less on foreign talent and imported tastes, instead nurturing a bright new wave of homegrown bartenders and locally derived concoctions...

George Nemec is a well-known Shanghai-based bartender who is widely credited as one of the early architects of the city’s drinks scene. In an interview in 2011 he told Time Out Shanghai his ultimate goal was to see Shanghai’s bar culture more self-sufficient and less reliant on foreign talent – either Western or Japanese – who are behind many of the better bars in town. ‘The ideal scenario,’ he said, ‘is to eventually have Chinese bar owners, employing Chinese bar managers, mentoring Chinese bartenders, serving cocktails to Chinese drinkers’.

In many ways, Yuan is that ideal scenario realised. Behind the bar is an all-Chinese line-up of bartending talent, including local legend Ted He and fast-rising up-and-comer Jerry Chen, the winner of the inaugural Time Out Shanghai-Cointreau Cocktail Shakedown competition in 2012. Yuan is also one of the first bars in town to successfully riff classics with Chinese ingredients to render cocktails that are actually drinkable. One of the signatures here is the Shaoxing Cavalry. Essentially a reimagining of the Manhattan, Chivas 12 Scotch replaces bourbon and is tempered with wolfberry-infused Shaoxing rice wine (a stand-in for sweet vermouth), balanced with orange bitters and served in old-style Qing Dynasty pottery and tops the list of one of the most inventive, Sino-centric cocktail menus in town. - Alexander Barlow, deputy editor, Time Out Shanghai.

Yuan 17-2 Xiangyang Bei Lu, near Changle Lu. See address details



A 'Singapore Sour' at Loof

Tourists may charge to Raffles Hotel to venerate the Singapore Sling, but for a slightly less 19th-century, more up-to-date Singapore drinking experience head for an a la carte cocktail at a rooftop bar. Following a recent renovation, Loof has re-emerged as one of the leaders of the year-round alfresco trend, thanks to a locally inspired list of cocktails and some of the best bar bites you’ll find in Singapore…

Atop the Odeon Towers in Singapore’s downtown CBD, the revamped Loof bills itself as Singapore’s first standalone rooftop bar. The name references the idiosyncrasies of local culture (particularly Singlish), and in its new incarnation, the bar turns the spotlight on local flavours. There’s a strong menu of South-East Asian-driven food and cocktails, conducive of a fun and relaxed atmosphere – great for a post-work tipple and a chance to sit back and enjoy an excellent view of the surrounding area (Loof overlook Raffles Hotel, birthplace of the original Singapore Sling).

Among the bespoke drink choices, created by Loof manager Aaron Tan and local mixologist Ken Loon, our local hero is the 'Singapore Sour', one of their 'Asian Sensations', featuring calamansi juice, vodka, soda and a sour plum syrup – plus an actual sour plum dropped into the mix. It manages to pull off sour, salty, sweet and refreshing all at once – perfect for the open-air tropical weather and one of the few drinks in town to utilise the sour plum, found in supermarkets all around town. - Berwin Song, editor, Time Out Singapore

Third Floor, Odeon Towers, 331 North Bridge Road, Singapore. +65 6338 8035.

Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia

'Irish Handcuffs' at Baxter Inn

The best cocktails at Baxter Inn may be their 'Negroni' on tap, their 'Salty Dog' or their 'Old Pal' but if you want a true Sydney experience in a quintessentially Sydney bar, you order a local beer and a whisky chaser. Or, as we like to call it, 'Irish Handcuffs'. Yep, it’s harder to get away from our convict history than you think – especially when it tastes so deliciously of the 365 top-shelf whiskies on offer at this hideaway basement bar...

That queue of people rolling out of a dark, nondescript laneway on Clarence Street is for Baxter Inn – a candlelit basement bar with thick carpet, jazz and blues and toilets that have some of the best acoustics in town. It’s kind of modelled on an old-school American Irish sports bar, only with no sport and much better whisky.

We’re not kidding about those acoustics, by the way – the tiled-and-wood-panelled bathrooms are each equipped with their own PA. They sound so good and are so nice, we’re almost tempted to set up camp in there. There are tables and chairs dotted around the room (which takes around 140 drinkers) as well as little rests lining the brick pillars for your drinks, but it’s all about stalking around the bar. Cocktails are reliably awesome but not the focus here. There’s a short list at the front of the book, with some of our favourites ('South Sides', 'Americanos', 'Tommy’s Margaritas', 'Gibsons'...) and the guys will make you just about anything you’d want to ask for. There is beer on tap and Negronis, too. Hot damn!

Be sure to stay until close, when the bell rings and things get crazy. - Myffy Rigby, Food & Drink editor, Time Out Australia

156 Clarence Street, Sydney, Australia.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, Japan

Hoppy and shochu at Fujiya Honten

Exquisite cocktails, ultra-rare whiskies, miso beer – Tokyo is a tantalising destination for any booze geek. But for an introduction to the city's salaryman drinking culture, this retro standing bar in Shibuya is the place to go.

There's never much risk of running up an outrageous tab at Fujiya Honten. Customers at this basement standing bar – a venerable boozer that was established more than 130 years ago – simply plonk down the amount of money they've budgeted for the night, and the staff deduct from it accordingly as each order arrives. It's an old-fashioned practice that seems to have died out at other, less honest drinking establishments around town, but very much in keeping with the retro vibe here.

Join the salarymen crowded around the open kitchen, bathe in the aroma of the deep-fat fryer and start off with a round of draft beer – at ¥450 (4.20 euros), one of the priciest things on the menu – before moving on to something stronger. While sophisticates might prefer some nihonshu, the most popular option is shochu liquor, sold in 360ml bottles with a choice of mixers. Opt for Hoppy, an old-school beer substitute that's come back in vogue with the office-worker sect recently, and which makes for a crisp, refreshing DIY cocktail. - James Hadfield, editor, Time Out Tokyo (English edition)

B1F, 2-3 Sakuragaoka-cho, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, Japan. +81 (0)3 3461 2128.

Zagreb, Croatia

Zagreb, Croatia

Rajika at Cica Bar

The Cica Bar is the stand-out place on Tkalčićeva, Zagreb's endless pedestrianised drinking strip. It's also the best spot in town to sample Croatia's favourite local liquor, rajika – a variation on grappa or ouzo. Here it's served in a variety of flavours, try 'medica' (honey) or 'orahovica' (walnut), and like its fellow Mediterranean aperitifs, you'll need a throat of steel to enjoy it...

Cica Bar, a slightly sunken 'graperia, cafeteria and galleria', is the most underground place you'll find on the Tkalčićeva strip. The interior undergoes radical changes every year or so and has the appearance of an art installation rather than a café-bar. For instance, 2011's gothic bathroom look with ceramic sinks serving as tables was replaced with a long table that looks like a space shuttle and emits an enigmatic blue glow. Skeletal black chairs look like instruments of torture but are strangely comfortable.

Outdoors, a scattering of tables on both sides of the street is insufficient to cope on summer evenings, when it's standing-room only both inside and out. Otherwise, Cica's main claim to fame is the long menu of house rakijas or brandies, which stretches to blueberry, honey, nut, fig and aniseed alongside the more common šljivovica (plum) and tavarica (mixed herb) varieties. - Jonathan Bousfield, Time Out Zagreb

Tkalčićeva 18, Zagreb, Croatia.