Aug. 10, 2012 at 10:20 AM ET
What’s a vacation without one amazing — perhaps even epic — evening out? A night of salsa dancing amid beautiful Bogotanos, swinging with Sydney’s red-lipsticked rockabillies, or sipping scotch with Shanghai bankers in a Mad Men–style mise-en-scène. We asked our global correspondents to do some drinking and dancing (do you see, dear readers, what we suffer for you?) and to come back with their picks for the world’s most happening new spots.
1. WTF, Bangkok
What: WTF (which in this case stands for Wonderful Thai Friendship) unites a cozy bar and two floors of galleries where there’s -always something great going on—an art exhibition, band, pop-up dinner, poetry reading, or guest DJ (retro music label ZudRangMa’s HQ is next door).
The look: Fifties kitsch meets Macau minimalism, with lots of local art.
Who goes: Artsy expats and low-key locals.
The sound track: Hip-hop by niche collectives like Digging in the Crates.
What to wear: Flannel, Buddy Holly glasses, skinny jeans.
What to drink: Something classic — perhaps the Pegu Club (gin, orange liqueur, lime juice, and -bitters).
The door policy: Come one, come all (7 Soi Sukhumvit 51).
2. Zajia, Beijing
What: A 500-year-old Taoist temple transformed into a bar and music venue.
The look: Sixteenth-century temple — stone floors in the bar -usher patrons up steep, scary-when-you’re-tipsy attic stairs to a cozy rafter overlooking the adjoining music and arts space.
Who goes: Brightly clad hipsters; friends from the neighborhood.
The sound track: Experimental Chinese rock bands jamming in the neighboring Zajia Lab room.
What to wear: A cardigan, since the place is drafty, even in summer.
What to drink: Belgian ales and imported whiskies.
The door policy: There isn’t even a door—it’s more of a curtain (23 Doufuchi Hutong, behind the bell tower).
3. Kater Holzig, Berlin
What: The new iteration of the -legendary club Bar25. Now in a former soap factory, Kater Holzig is a sprawling cultural playground with a restaurant, a theater, a multi-tiered waterside deck, and artist ateliers.
The look: Alice in Wonderland meets Berlin’s underground: Vines climb up interior walls, and there’s abundant graffiti and artist-created urban flotsam and jetsam.
Who goes: Berlin’s young creatives dancing to electronica until the sun shines—and beyond (the Sunday night crowd often stays until noon on Monday).
The sound track: Techno beats.
What to wear: It’s a free-for-all with one rule: Avoid upmarket designers at all costs.
What to drink: Anything with caffeine.
The door policy: You might wait an hour in line and still not get the nod from the fickle door team. Hedge your bets by reserving a table in the restaurant (Michaelkirchstrasse 23).
4. El Bembé, Bogotá
What: In La Macarena, Bogotá’s -bohemian quarter, a bar for salsa dancing or for mingling and marveling at beautiful couples’ moves. On Fridays, a band starts at midday, encouraging lunchers to blow off work and dance until 3 a.m.
The look: Old salsa records on the walls, bright tables around the dance floor; it’s reminiscent of Cuba’s secret salsa joints.
Who goes: Dancers, actors, stock-traders.
The sound track: Old, deep, sexy salsa.
What to wear: Something that’ll look good on the dance floor.
What to drink: The Hector Lavoe mojito, made with passion fruit and coconut.
The door policy: Easy (Calle 27, No. 6-73).
5. Oasis Clubhouse, Buenos Aires
What: A slick, sexy social club on prime Palermo real estate, with an ivy-ringed garden containing a glowing pool and an alfresco bar.
The look: Two floors of dim nooks and lounges with double-height windows overlooking the lawn. A basement bar draped in black velvet makes a cozy winter snug.
Who goes: Blue-blood Europeans march to the garden for la previa (or pre-party), a raucous poolside whistle-wetter. Locals host polo bashes and daytime pool parties. The sound track: New York City DJ, Whitney Weiss spices up classic house with eclectic pop.
What to wear: Girls favor colorful, near-transparent wraps from Juana de Arco; guys wear summer whites.
What to drink: Go off the menu; ask for something with cardamom, basil and ginger.
The door policy: Guest list only: Cough up $33 for an all-day pass or call ahead — and sound convincing — for a free, evening-only invite (email email@example.com for the address).
6. Tjing Tjing, Cape Town
What: Beneath the eaves of a heritage building in the city center, a terrace bar with recessed daybeds and a glimpse of iconic Table Mountain.
The look: A stylish Japanese -jet-setter’s loft—dark wood, leather settees, and a wall papered in sepia photos of the owner’s travels to -Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hokkaido.
Who goes: Journalists and graphic designers.
The sound track: Electronic-influenced remixes.
What to wear: Jeans and V-necks — nothing flashy.
What to drink: Dawa (Swahili for medicine), a potent mix of vodka, lime, crushed ice, and honey. Tapa-size quesadillas also hit the spot.
The door policy: None, but the place fills up quickly (165 Longmarket St.).
7. Butler, Hong Kong
What: A Japanese cocktail bar pouring meticulously mixed drinks.
The look: Flapper-era chic, with a long mahogany bar, leather booths, and carefully polished Baccarat crystal glasses on the back wall.
Who goes: Businessmen and literary types who appreciate a good Moscow Mule.
The sound track: Chilled-out ambient tunes.
What to wear: Bartenders don bow ties, cuff links, and white dinner jackets, so you might want to reconsider your everyday jeans.
What to drink: Ask for something omakase (translation: “I’ll leave it to you”).
The door policy: It’s tiny, so call ahead to secure a spot. There’s a $25 minimum charge per person (30 Mody Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui).
8. Ca'D'oro, Istanbul
What: A glassy, minimalist indoor-outdoor boîte with glittery Golden Horn views atop Istanbul’s hottest new art gallery, Salt.
The look: Bright, clean modernism within the old Ottoman bank building: glass walls, floating wooden stairs, and an outdoor section that hangs over the city and water below.
Who goes: Expats, socialites, and brainy members of Istanbul’s ever-expanding arts scene. And smokers: Istanbul’s new smoking ban has made the terrace a hot commodity.
The sound track: Just the soft tinkle of piano tunes; it’s refreshingly quiet inside.
What to wear: Something simple — think Alexander Wang.
What to drink: Try the Mar-Tea-Ny, a martini made with jasmine tea.
The door policy: Arrive early to snag an outdoor table, especially on warm spring nights (Bankalar Cadessi 11).
9. Worship Street Whistling Shop, London
What: An underground ode to Victoriana on an unassuming Shoreditch backstreet. The Dickensian vibe -belies the focus on molecular mixology: Waistcoated bar staff create -inventive concoctions from fruit -infusions, herb dusts, and produce from the distilling machine in the bar’s glass-walled lab.
The look: Studded sofas, oak barrels, and -antique maps play to the heritage theme; candlelit glass lanterns and a copper-backed bar add glamour.
Who goes: Laid-back intellectual types, architects, cocktail lovers, and bon vivants. The sound track: Blues, rock ’n’ roll, and soulful -honky-tonk.
What to wear: Plaid shirts, striped sweaters, thick-rimmed glasses.
What to drink: A Panacea, the bar’s inventive take on the whiskey sour, or a classic and perfectly executed Aviation.
The door policy: None (63 Worship St.).
10. Harvard & Stone, Los Angeles
What: A converted dive on the -eastern edge of Hollywood with a -whiskey-focused cocktail list, live -music, and two bars—the smaller of which, called R&D, hosts guest celebrity bartenders mixing new and rare spirits.
The look: World War II–era industrial garage, with plenty of exposed pipes, metal chains, and faux weathered walls.
Who goes: Edgy, just-of-age Eastsiders, rock stars, chefs, the cast of Mad Men, and cult cocktail followers.
The sound track: Indie hard rock bands playing on the small front stage, or guitar from the jukebox; the prevailing theme seems to be “loud.”
What to wear: Something dark and tight—black denim, leather, and a vintage Tshirt. Lipstick-red pumps for ladies, Converse (duh) for men.
What to drink: Whatever’s on special in the back R&D bar, with winky names like Fernet Headed Slut or Bird’s the Word.
The door policy: Everyone’s welcome, but expect to wait your turn on a Friday or Saturday night (5221 Hollywood Blvd.).
11. Big in Japan, Montreal
What: It’s like a 1950s Los Angeles hotel lobby bar, but softer: The neon and shiny mahogany have been replaced with dozens of votives and smooth blond wood.
The look: Dark (it’s entirely candlelit), with lots of curtains and corridors, and comely waitresses weaving around a serpentine bar.
Who goes: Serious cocktail aficionados, including off-duty chefs.
The sound track: Fifties and sixties crooners from Sinatra to Brigitte Bardot.
What to wear: Something classic. A little black dress for the lady, jeans for the guy.
What to drink: Sakes, classic cocktails, or Japanese whiskey. Following the custom of Japanese bars, the barkeep will sell you a bottle that he’ll keep until you finish it—which could be days, months, or years in the future.
The door policy: Expect a 15-minute wait Thursday through Saturday (4175 St-Laurent Blvd.).
12. Gipsy, Moscow
What: In Krasny Oktyabr—a former chocolate factory that has become Moscow’s hipster central—a gypsy-inspired dance floor, bar, lounge, and summertime terrace with beautiful river views.
The look: Disco balls, wine bottles, and Moorish light fixtures dangle from the ceiling; surrealist photographs and paintings adorn the walls.
Who goes: Those who partake in the art-party scene, including young executives and the artists themselves.
The sound track: Varied—Soviet pop, Guns N’Roses, a Rammstein song or two.
What to wear: Smart -casual (from jeans and fleece to strapless dresses), without the designer affectations of pricier Moscow clubs.
What to drink: A mojito, and if you’re hungry, some pretty good chicken pâté.
The door policy: Rather random, but you have to get past burly doormen every night (Bolotnaya Naberezhnaya 3/4).
13. Booker & Dax, New York
What: A molecular-cocktail bar from pork bun daddy David Chang; it’s tucked behind his East Village spot Momofuku Ssäm Bar.
The look: Dark wood and Airstream-tin walls lit by candles and Edison bulbs.
Who goes: Foodie pilgrims; the odd culinary-minded celeb (Aziz Ansari!).
The sound track: A Brooklyn party mix of loudish classic rock and nineties hip-hop.
What to wear: Try to look like you’re not trying. Ladies would do well with jeans, a striped T-shirt, and red lips.
What to drink: The Mustachi-Ode, a frothy float of herbal liqueurs, bourbon, egg white, and pistachio—topped with angostura bitters in the shape of a handlebar ’stache.
The door policy: For the shortest wait, go on a Monday or Tuesday, or close to six on weekends (207 Second Ave.; entrance on 13th St.).
14. Silencio, Paris
What: Remember the eerie nightclub in Mulholland Drive? It’s here: David Lynch has opened a private club 23 feet down a black staircase beneath the Paris pavement.
The look: Lynch designed everything within the labyrinthine gold-vaulted cellars—the low seats in the art library, the cut-up chaise longues, the long black sinks, the gorgeous cinema with double seats and little lamps, and a Twin Peaks–ish forest of bare tree trunks.
Who goes: Beautiful people and a cool overflow from the adjoining Social Club music venue.
The sound track: Quiet and conversational at 7 p.m.; DJs later.
What to wear: Skinny Kooples suits; short dresses.
What to drink: The Oval (vodka, herbs, and St-Germain) or The Beetlejuice (involving beets and raspberries).
The door policy: Silencio is members only from six to midnight, with a selective door policy thereafter—try looking sophisticated but quirky. The Social Club is open to anyone (142 rue Montmartre).
15. Q, Rio de Janeiro
What: A tropical version of a London gastropub on Rua Dias Ferreira, Rio’s most elegant street.
The look: Rio from the 1950s. There’s wood paneling on the walls, a circular sofa in the center of the room, and marble-topped diner tables surrounded by red chairs.
Who goes: Socialites, soap opera stars.
The sound track: Indie rock with moments of pop.
What to wear: Dress codes are rare in Rio, but it’s safe to wear a bright dress; for men, a button-down.
What to drink: The tart, refreshing Rocket Collins, which blends arugula, gin, grapes, lemon, green apple, and soda.
The door policy: Reserve a table or arrive before 9 p.m. (Rua Dias Ferreira 617, Leblon).
16. Animal Social Club, Rome
What: A transformed warehouse in eastern Rome that hosts cultural events, art exhibitions, live music, and DJ sets in two loft spaces and an outdoor courtyard.
The look: Post-industrial chic mimicking London and Berlin.
Who goes: Roman hipsters.
The sound track: A fun menu of house, indie, and electronica spun by up to ten DJs a night.
What to wear: Anything goes, though you won’t see many designer labels on this laid-back club crowd.
What to drink: Tap beer and no-nonsense cocktails.
The door policy: A membership card, available online at animalsocialclub.com, is required (Via di Portonaccio 23E).
17. Malt Fun, Shanghai
What: An homage to whiskey on a quiet French Concession street—with scotch from every region, from the Orkney Islands to the Highlands.
The look: You could be in Edinburgh, given the mahogany walls, backlit bottles, and cozy groupings of mix-and-match chairs.
Who goes: Taiwanese industry titans, whiskey lushes, and expats out for a low-key night.
The sound track: Billie Holiday crooning on a dreamy loop.
What to wear: Something -snazzy. Chinese businessmen in black wingtips and foreigners in black-silk wrap dresses sip $75 pours.
What to drink: You can’t go wrong with a single malt such as a ten-year-old Balvenie.
The door policy: Almost nonexistent, as is the norm in Shanghai (123 Hunan Lu).
18. Gardel's Bar, Sydney
What: A rockabilly haven named for Carlos Gardel, Argentina’s great tango singer.
The look: Artfully faded, with a padded red bar, chesterfield sofas, polished woods, and cowhide trim.
Who goes: Tatted artsy types, fifties nostalgics.
The sound track: Retro-inspired tracks by groups like the Black Keys. Occasional live music (Justin Townes Earle has played here).
What to wear: Full skirts and fitted sweaters for gals; slicked-back hair and suspenders on pleated pants for guys who are really going for it.
What to drink: The Thank You for Smoking, a Manhattan variant with bourbon, smoked vermouth, smoked maple syrup and chocolate bitters.
The door policy: Unless it’s full, you’re in (358 Cleveland St., Surry Hills).
19. Mizlala by Meir Adoni, Tel Aviv
What: Grand Bauhaus building transformed into a wine bar and small-plates place amid the Gropius-inspired modernism of Tel Aviv’s White City.
The look: Coolly minimalist, with light installations that wash walls in transparent pastel hues.
Who goes: Models, moguls, and media types; foodies lured by Adoni’s cult-chef status.
The sound track: Mod-Mediterranean pop and gypsy-influenced world music complement Adoni’s neo-Levantine menu.
What to wear: Designer denim and nice T-shirts work for both sexes.
What to drink: The house Halva Martini, enriched with sesame paste, date honey, and spiced rum.
The door policy: Reservations are essential (57 Nahalat Binyamin St.).
20. Anjin, Tokyo
What: A sleek, dim bar on the upper level of Tokyo’s popular new Daikanyama T-Site bookstore.
The look: Mellow lighting, unpolished wood floors, and walls of books and magazines — customers can browse the collection of 30,000-plus vintage magazines — create the cozy feeling of being in a chic Japanese living room.
Who goes: Fashionable businessmen, book-loving students, Tokyo creatives.
The sound track: Jazz strains in the background.
What to wear: Something understated — a well-tailored suit or a classic vintage dress.
What to drink: A signature Anjin martini — a heady mix of gin, vermouth, and Japanese plum wine.
The door policy: None (17-5 Sarugaku-cho, Shibuya-ku).
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