Apartment Bar, Berlin
The Amano Grand Central hotel’s Apartment Bar is by far the swishest in the area and just five minutes’ walk from Berlin Hauptbahnhof. On the sixth floor, it has a warm, seductive ambiance with dim lighting, teal velvet stools and sofas, and memorable nighttime views over the city and Spree River. There’s a top-notch offering of cocktails as well as a chic rooftop terrace one floor above (summer only).
• Beer from €4, cocktails from €10, Heidestrasse 62, amanogroup.de
The area around Brussels’ Midi station isn’t known for places to drink, so walk north for 10 minutes to the 120-year-old Cantillon Brewery. This was the only one of Brussels’ 100-plus breweries to survive into the 21st century – brewing a range of spontaneously fermented lambic beers. You may only have time to grab a quick gueuze between trains at the bar, but €7 buys two beers and a self-guided tour of the vats and fermentation room. The family-owned brewery also has a longstanding connection with Royale Union Saint-Gilloise football club and you may get a chance to taste its team beer – Cuvée Saint-Gilloise.
• Bar prices from €4, takeaways from €7 for a 75cl bottle of gueuze or €8 for a 75cl Cuvée Saint-Gilloise, rue Gheude 56, cantillon.be
Gatsby Café, Rome
This former hat shop pays homage to its heritage with chipper bartenders in old-school caps hawking a headgear-inspired cocktail menu– from the panama to the sombrero. Despite a name that conjures up the roaring 1920s, the three floors of the Gatsby are decidedly 1950s in their choice of vintage design and furniture. Come for a generous aperitivo (€10), a light dinner or a late-night tipple. There are weekly jazz and swing concerts. Gatsby is a 10-minute walk from Termini station.
• Piazza Vittorio Emanuele II 106, gatsby.cafe
Vermut I A La Gàbia, Barcelona
The area around Sants station is low on leafy squares, so Plaça d’Osca – flanked by plane, rosewood and pagoda trees – has become the hub of barrio life, with a host of bars and cafes. Vermut I A La Gàbia specialises in homemade vermouth, poured from the barrel and drunk neat with a green olive and a slice of orange, or with a splash of soda water (ask for a sifó, the traditional glass siphon, and then top up as you sip). A plate of marinated sardines makes the perfect accompaniment.
• Plaça d’Osca 7, on Facebook
It’s a five-minute walk from Gare du Nord to this popular new wine bar with glossy forest-green tiles on the walls behind the bar, mostly natural and organic wines on shelves, and great choices by the glass. The brief journey transports you from the anonymity of a big-city station neighbourhood into an arty Parisian quartier with character and charm. Billili also serves a small-plates menu that changes regularly but runs to dishes such as a sandwich filled with roasted pumpkin, marinated carrots and coriander pesto; terrine de campagne; and sautéed octopus with morteau sausage in beaujolais wine sauce.
• Glass of wine and single small plate from €20, 136 rue du Faubourg-Poissonnière, 75010, on Facebook
Part-speakeasy, part-alchemist’s living room, this cocktail den is a barely known marvel. Opened seven years ago by brothers Martin and Jakub, the bar seeks to provide a meaningful, interactive drinking experience. As such, there’s no menu or fixed price list: simply tell the bartender what tastes you like and they’ll wizard you up a drink. “Our guests show us the way,” says Martin. “We just try and mirror their ideas.” And it works. Through the dim glow of candles and backdrop of downtempo jazz, customers’ faces radiate with contentment as they sip.
• Cocktails from £5, Krakovská 15, parlour.cz
Panorama Sky Bar, Warsaw
This bar is at the top of the hotel preferred by American presidents: Barack Obama stayed at the Warsaw Marriott in 2014 on his way to the G7 summit in Brussels. It’s also opposite the city’s main railway station. Cocktails are served from its blingy gold bar – a Belvedere Polish vodka martini costs £10.50, cocktails start from around £7 and beers from £3.30 – but the views north up Emilia Plater street and east across the Vistula River are priceless.
• Aleje Jerozolimskie 65/79, panoramaskybar.pl
Proeflokaal de Ooievaar, Amsterdam
In medieval times, the northern gates to the city once stood here; now it’s the place to find Ooievaar (stork). The tiny, wood-panelled bar is perfect for rail travellers as it’s just minutes from Centraal station. It serves fluitjes (small beers) for €2.80 but it is also a tasting room with a choice of 15 types of jenever, the ancestor of modern gin (€3.50-€12.50), and 40 liqueurs (from €4.50), some distilled in Amsterdam since the 1700s. Many of the liqueurs have curious names: Bruidstranen (Bride’s tears) is a rose-flavoured liqueur blended with gold and silver leaf, which was served at weddings and drunk during marital tiffs – to remind spouses of their vows.
• Sint Olofspoort 1, proeflokaaldeooievaar.nl
King Charles I, London
Name the drink and there’s a bar for it around King’s Cross, often with its own particular spin: Spiritland’s sound system, Drink, Shop, Do’s craft nights, pastel-hued glamour at Lina Stores, art-deco design at the GNH … But in the age of gentrification, when trad pubs are closing down, it’s refreshing to come across a thriving no-frills boozer. The King Charles I is small, convivial and determinedly untrendy. There’s no food (unless you count crisps) and music comes courtesy of the jukebox in the corner or occasional live bands. Come here for £3.90 pints (four ales, three lagers on tap) and a taste of King’s Cross before it became one of Europe’s largest regeneration projects.
• 55-57 Northdown Street, King’s Cross
Bierochs Bierkeller, Vienna
About 15 minutes’ walk south from the Hauptbahnhof, Bierochs Bierkeller, on the corner of Raaber-Bahn-Gasse and Planetengasse, has a barrel-shaped door and is in one of those ornate buildings that look like one of the city’s famous cakes. Fun, cave-like, cosy and a locals’ favourite, it does great toasted rye sandwiches and serves dozens of types of beer from around the world.
• Raaber-Bahn-Gasse 12, 1100, on Facebook
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