by Shaun Layton | If you’ve spent much time in the service industry, your often get texted or Tweeted questions like this: “Where should we go in Gastown?” “My friends are going to Prague next week, do you have any recommendations?” “I have a layover in Portland, and need a place for a few stiff drinks. Thoughts?”
I ask these questions a lot myself while travelling, as I love to find those local spots you’ll never find at the top of Tripadvisor. I’m often horrified by the recommendations I see given out by hotel concierges, sending guests to tourist traps and seldom into the more interesting neighbourhoods in the city.
Thankfully, Phaidon has put out a fitting sibling to the very popular Where Chefs Eat book. It’s called Where Bartenders Drink. The new bar guide includes recommendations from over 300 bartenders in over 60 countries. What I love about this book is the variety of bars, as it lists not only posh hotel bars like The Savoy in London and the famed French 75 Bar in New Orleans, but also must-visits like Vancouver’s atypical Bayside Lounge. (I was flattered to be one of the contributors for the book, hence Bayside’s nod.) I love the fact that places like Madrid’s La Venencia – the greatest sherry bar in the world – cracked the list. No ‘Margaritaville’ recommendations here, folks!
This is a very information-heavy book, so don’t expect a bunch of pretty cocktail pics. There are, however, very useful maps of each city, hours listed, dress codes and so on. Pro tip: still do your research; know what type of experience you are looking for and take into consideration the people you are travelling with. Check the Instagram feeds of the spots you’re going to, and always double check the hours!
Where Bartenders Drink is available at phaidon.com for $35.00. It would make a great gift for the barfly in your family, not to mention a handy reference on the backbar of your neighbourhood cocktail joint.