While it's not old by world standards, PJ Clarke's is more than 125 years old, a fairly old bar for New York that has not changed much over the years. In midtown, it sits in the shadow of a skyscraper and miraculously was saved from the wrecker's ball, thank goodness. If you watched the classic 'Lost Weekend' movie, here's where it was set. After work it is mobbed. Other times it is not that crammed with people. Men will want to use the men's room as it features huge urinals. It harks back to a time when men were probably the only bar folk as it is easy to see into the urinals from the bar. (Women, please turn your eyes away.) Food is good here, by the way... fresh oysters on ice, delicious broccoli rabe, rare hamburgers (I once had two).
This incredible bar is located in the Four Seasons restaurant, an architectural and culinary landmark since it opened in 1959. You can drink and/or have a light lunch while sitting under a stunning Richard Lippold sculpture of brass rods hanging from the ceiling. It's not cheap, but definitely a 'must-do' splurge. (It's nice to feel special and privileged even if it is only once in one's life.) The Four Seasons is still the place where New York's movers and shakers, political, financial, editorial and otherwise come for lunch ($100 at least per person) and the bar offers a nice perch to view them from. (Well, you can always rub shoulders with them in the lavish restrooms.) Plus there's a good view of what's happening on glorious Park Avenue.
99 E. 52nd & Park Avenue in the landmark Seagram's Building. Go to www.fourseasonsrestaurant.com for pics, menus, etc.
Now, I am not normally a cocktail man. But on a weekend in Chicago with my then-fiancee, we discovered The Terrace at the Conrad. You snuggle up on a sofa five stories above the rest of the world but feel like you're a million miles away, so it's perfect either for romantic drinks or for a relaxed night with friends (and not as pretentious as a lot of other bars we tried in the city). The unique cocktail menu was a really big hit with my other half and even I was a fan of the 'TerraceTini'. Go in the summer and soak up the atmosphere, or go now and soak up the alcohol whilst the exchange rate is so good... the lovely lady I took is now my wife so it must have been a reasonable success!
The Terrace, upstairs at the Conrad Chicago at 521 North RUsh St.
Chicago, Illinois, 60611.
Tel number 1312 645 1500
We walked through the Sibillini foothills from Sarnano to San Liberato Monastery near to the hang gliding school and Gabella Nuova, the views up to the mountains and down across the rolling hills to the sea were stunning. San Liberato was a follower and friend of Saint Francis of Assisi and this was one of a number of monasteries built throughout Le Marche by their followers the Frati Fioretti di Jesi.
The monks are renovating all of the monasteries (don't know where they found the capital!) and trying to make them self-sufficient, opening ristorante, bars, hotels, and hosting wedding and functions. The monastery is open daily for visitors and adjacent to this there's a bar, which is stocked with a great selection of wines and a menu of quality Belgian beers no less, the ristorante menu is really seasonal and quite different from anything else available locally. At the moment in November and December there's a robust menu based around game, chesnuts, truffles and wild mushrooms - you can go a-la-carte or take a tour de force plate of everything (€35 inc wine, coffee and grappa). It's open most lunchtimes and Saturday and Sunday evenings phone in advance on 0733 694103 or 071 977128. There's also a website with more information on the monasteries and potential itinararies. www.terradeifioretti.it
There are many comfortable hotels locally or you can rent stylish apartments just outside Sarnano at www.villasanraffaello.com
Flights to the area - Ancona and Pescara 1.5 hrs, Perugia & Rimini 2hrs, Rome & Bologna 2h45mins
San Liberato Monastery, Gabella Nuova, San Ginesio, Macerata, Le Marche
Great rooftop drinks and fantastic views of historic HCMC centre from this 20th floor bar and terrace, and one of the pluses is that because you're in it, this modern edifice isn't spoiling your view as it towers over the Opera House, Post Office, Rex Hotel and Notre Dame Cathedral. Hang on to your money in the breeze for the sake of the waiters. A couple of notes we were leaving for a tip blew through the balustrade, and the waiter leapt over onto a narrow 20th floor ledge to rescue them before we could offer replacements. Good service or madness?
On Dong Khoi, the French and Americans famous Rue Catinat, at Lam Son Square
I first sampled Level 25 on a girls' weekend in Miami, and we all fell in love with it for its completely creative cocktails. It serves all your old faves, but given a unique twist and served with flair (by very attentive bar staff). It also has its own speciality cocktail menu - trust me, you'd need more than one visit to work through it! As well as all this, the setting is quite literally out of this world, 25 floors above the ground. The bar is all glass, with the city and the sea glittering away outside - quite enough to take your breath away (if the cocktails haven't knocked you out already!). The clientele is stylish and atmosphere electric. Without a doubt my favourite cocktail corner in the world.
Level 25, Conrad Miami
1395 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL, 33131, USA
Tel: 1-305-503 6500
In summer 2006, 10 of us took a villa in the tiny village of Vizinada in the central hills of Croatia's Istrian peninsula. This is a beautiful spot looking across to the medieval hill town of Motovun and within easy travelling distance of great coastal locations such as Venetian-styled Rovinj to the south.
We went there principally however to watch the World Cup amongst another passionate footballing people and the local Croatians did not disappoint. What made the holiday memorable however was the wonderful warmth and hospitality extended to us everywhere we went, not least when watching games in the tiny local bar on a beat-up TV in an alien language, and where £16 stood a round for most of the village on a packed Saturday night.
Were I not already committed to a holiday in Turkey next June I'd be looking to return to Vizinada or somewhere nearby to watch Euro 2008. I know I could expect great value and genuine friendliness along with the excitement of following a team with a real chance of victory. Since it was Croatia who sent England packing last month it might also soften the blow more than a little were Croatia to pull it off.
Fabulous all-American bar in one of the best NY hotels where the bloody mary was invented. You have to go in the cosy bar with comfortable leather armchairs, fabulously attentive staff, lovely nibbles and, of course, the best bloody mary in town.
Two East 55th Street, at Fifth Avenue, New York
A gem, to an ex-pat Brit, found it very difficult to locate great bars in Vancouver, this more than makes up for it. Tiny place, best staff in town, and the best cocktails by a country mile, (pretty good food too!).
1326 Davie Street, Vancouver, @ Broughton
What any five-star cocktail bar should be like - very friendly ambience, excellent and friendly, yet reserved, barmen. Best whiskey sour I've had.
Best cocktail bar in Europe.
Potsdamer Straße 102 • 10785 Berlin
Telefon +49.30.2575 9977
Wandering up a quiet sidestreet back through Dresden’s Neustadt to our hotel one balmy June evening, we came across a couple of empty tables under a window near an archway, decorated with a simple white stone and flower composition, and apparently just waiting for someone to sit down. So we did, of course. After a short pause, a young red-haired guy drifted languidly out of the archway, introduced himself as Ollie the owner, asked us where were from, chatted pleasantly for a bit, and then inquired if we would like to try some local Saxon wines, and of course we said yes.
In a few moments we were sipping at a chilled, floral, round-bodied local white which absolutely enraptured us, with Ollie occasionally sauntering out to check how things were going. Well, things went so well, we made a couple of other visits back to Ollie’s bar during our week-long stay to try some more Saxon wines, enjoy Ollie’s conversation, and, on our last night, to have a delicious light snack of regional cheeses, Spanish and Italian ham, and, this time, a whole bottle of the wine we fell in love with, Schloss Proschwitz, all interleaved with Ollie’s cheerful and friendly banter.
He told us at one point that his family lived quite far away and he didn’t see them too often, but then he shrugged and grinned and said: “Anyway, here, my guests are my family.” What better attitude can a barman have? So, if you’re in Dresden, pop along to Bar Gold, just off Königstrasse in Neustadt, in the Prisco Passage, sip some good Saxon wine, and say hello from Stuart and Bianca!
This is a funky little bar in Montmartre. It's got a laid back atmosphere, lots of comfy cushions, quirky décor and possibly the best mosaic decorated toilet in Paris!
Drinks are reasonable for Paris, this place is well worth stopping in at, on your way up the back streets to Sacré Coeur. Open 4pm - 2am.
24 rue Durantin, Montmartre, on the corner of rue Durantin and rue Burq. Nearest metro: Abbesses
+33 1 42 54 88 08
Newly refurbished Bar BS3 in Ashton, Bristol has a pleasant atmosphere, friendly staff, a good entertainment programme including karaoke, DJ music, live entertainment and a quiz night. There is a great menu of freshly prepared and charcoal-grilled steaks, burgers, chicken wings and vegetarian options at very affordable prices.
Ashton Road, opposite Greville Smyth Park and just along from the Bristol City Football ground
One of the classiest Indian restaurants in Liverpool, and one of the many different eateries in Lark Lane. The food is delicious (all of it), the service is second-to-none and the place oozes luxury, cleanliness and attention to detail. Large, exotic menu. £15 to £20 per head, so not especially expensive.
15-21 Lark Lane
Between Aigburth Road and Sefton Park
St. Michael's Station is 10 mins. walk away.
Tel. 0151 728 9728
Don't know how these guys do it, but they brew their beer to absolute perfection!
I saw a bunch of these pubs spread all over town when I was down in Brazil, and they all seemed to have a pretty faithful clientele.
We ended up hitting the Ipanema spot most the time, and two of those times we closed the place down! That good!
Rua Prudente de Moraes 416, Ipanema
The Café is the best in Calais for lunch or for a wee drink. The staff are friendly and professional - it is not sloppy student service. Okay, Calais is definitely not the most beautiful place in the world but this place makes you really feel that you are in old France. It is simple and unpretentious.
Fantastic mussels and chips (and the chips are hand cut, none of the frozen crap), excellent steak tartare and plat de jour/ grillade.
The square in front of the café was partly destroyed twice in the two world wars and they threw up bits of concrete, but the café is an original - benches and wood panelling. We go every time we visit our journalist friend who works for the local tele.
The staff try their best to speak English, although a svp and a merci goes a long way.
They have a simple kids' menu but I really advise mussels. They might find it strange, but they will always remember it. My kids eat anything, at least once without force - then it gets more complicated.
I'm sort of regretting this as it has almost been an English free zone.
Watch out for the lovely old girl who drinks a coffee and then sings a chanson or two on Sundays - she loves Scots.
All in all, if you have an afternoon or a booze cruise - this is the best of Calais. And you can walk along the front after and see the White Cliffs of Dover on most days. Go up to the lighthouse!
Place Armes. Walk down from the station towards the sea and after the "grey" tower (not the townhall)on your left.
Named after a notorious Victorian brothel keeper, Madame Brussels has a deliciously kooky garden party theme, complete with grassed interior, trellising and parasols.
Bright young things in tennis whites will bring you iced Pimms and cucumber sandwiches. Scrumptious in every way.
The Circle Line is wonderful for a tour around Manhattan Island. It should not be missed. But much more exciting was our cruise on the Schooner Adirondack. There are some four sailings a day and we chose the sunset one.
You board at Chelsea Piers (on the Hudson near West 23rd). The two-hour cruise goes to the Statue of Liberty and returns, with champagne served by the crew.
The sunset cruise is particularly beautiful because you see the sunset to the west over New Jersey and to the east looms the skyline of lower Manhattan which is lit up brilliantly by the time you turn around and head back.
Unfortunately the cruise only runs from the end of April through the end of October. Cost is around $50, champagne included. We will never forget it!
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