10 of the Coolest Pubs in the World

If it is called a local, pub, tavern, inn, hostelry, saloon, 19th hole, watering hole, or bar, public houses are fascinating places, luring people of all walks of life to its alcoholic nectar, like bees to flowers. Pubs around the world tend to all tastes, palates, and sub-cultures these days, with inventive owners providing varieties for picky connoisseurs—from whiskey-only pubs to non-alcoholic and gender-based bars. With extra-long names, such as the Old Thirteenth Cheshire Astley Volunteer Rifleman Corps Inn to themed bars or taverns offering secret rendezvouses, public houses across the globe provide more than just a beer at a counter.

Through the decades, many a pub has had its name honored by Guinness World Records for being the tiniest, the longest temporary bar, or the largest—like the Offshore Rooftop & Bar at Chicago’s Navy Pier in Illinois, USA. Although pubs don’t need to break records to be cool as these ten clearly show.

10 Squeeze into a Small One in the UK

Because they are so small, there are sometimes not more than a mention or a photo available of the world’s tiniest bars. But they do exist—and they are as quaint as small pubs come. For example, the Signal Box Inn building was once a working—you guessed it—signal box in Scunthorpe. But it was moved to Cleethorpe, UK, where it has attracted pub-goers since 2006. Another really tiny bar is the narrow 1.8-meter-wide (5.9-foot) Mou Very in Dunedin, New Zealand, holding six bar stools, a few bottles of alcohol, and an oversized coffee roaster. Slim’s Elbow Room in the city of Cabo San Lucas offers a wide variety of tequila to four customers at a time. Not much elbow room at all.

Although many claim the title, the Blomberger Saustell in Blomberg, Germany, currently holds the title as Guinness World Records’ smallest permanent licensed bar in the world at 5.2 square meters (55.9 square feet)! The beer is normal size, though. “Prost” to that![1]

9 Go High in Nepal

The Irish Pub in the Namche Bazaar in Nepal is 3,440 kilometers (11,290 feet) above sea level, making it the highest bar in the world. The pub was opened by two brothers in 2012 after the village saw Mount Everest climbers flocking to the area. Only just recovering from a 2015 earthquake, the bar struggled under pandemic regulations, hampering business due to the mountain being “closed” to tourists.

A new highway promises more traffic and easier ways to bring locals, tourists, and stock in. But be warned—until then, it isn’t a walk in the park to reach this pub. To reach the village, one is flown into apparently the world’s scariest airport, followed by a hike for two days—which is also how supplies are transported to the bar. Do your own research, prepare well, and read accounts of others’ experiences before you decide to go for a pint![2]

8 Sink to Your Lowest at the Dead Sea

Just a 30-minute drive from Jerusalem (or an hour from Tel Aviv) brings one to the Kalia bar at Kalia Beach on the northern shore of the Dead Sea in Israel. Kalia is the lowest bar in elevation in the world at more than 300 meters (1,000 feet) below sea level. The settlement of Kalia was established in 1929 on Lido Beach, and the kibbutz (an intentional community) was destroyed in 1984 and rebuilt again.

The Kalia Bar is named after the huge potassium deposits in the area, leading to the initial development of the community. Together with most “normal” alcoholic beverages, the Kalia Bar serves their signature cocktail, the Dead Sea Margarita, and authentic local food like falafel. Drinking to life at the Kalia Bar is the perfect end to a day of sunbathing, black mud skin treatments, and floating in the Dead Sea. L’chayim![3]

7 Eco-Pubbing, Icelandic Style

The Northern Lights Bar is a glass enclosure specifically intended for seasonal Northern Lights viewing in Iceland. Not only does the location of the bar make it unique and sought after for watching the famed Aurora Borealis, but it is also situated in a geothermal power plant’s abandoned living quarters. These were renovated to become an archetype of eco-sustainable building and recycling, earning the ION Luxury Adventure Hotel the 2014 World Boutique Hotel Award.

The hotel is situated close to Reykjavik for easy travel and is an adventurer’s dream, offering activities like hiking up the volcano, horseback riding across black sand beaches, snowmobiling on glaciers, diving, fly fishing, and river rafting in glacial rivers and waterfalls. The menu consists of “slow food” prepared from fresh local ingredients, and the bar serves beers, liqueurs, and spirits from Iceland’s several microbreweries.[4]

6 Neither Shaken nor Stirred in Sweden

Although there are many ice bars found in the world’s colder regions—and on the sea on Norwegian cruise ships and even in hot climates, such as in the UAE—one can go one step further and visit the ice bar in the IceHotel, a structure made entirely of ice in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. Of course, it isn’t the only ice hotel in the world, but it was the first, and it is still operating since its opening in 1989. A winter phenomenon occurring when the waters of the Torne River slow down and freeze makes this hotel a must-visit.

Following the tradition, IceHotel’s watering (or is it ice) hole is simply named Ice Bar. Like other ice bars around the world, it serves its drinks in unique ice-carved glasses. Patrons sit on ice furniture or stand on ice floors, admiring ice art sculptures while having the option to sleep it off in an ice bed after an evening of too much elbow lifting. Visiting Ice Bar is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, as the surroundings offer many other activities for those with ice in their veins. Skål to that![5]

5 A Very Remote Drink on Tristan da Cunha

The Albatross Bar on Tristan da Cunha Island is one of the world’s most remote bars. Tristan da Cunha is situated 2.810 kilometers (1,750 miles) from Cape Town. To visit, one must find a boat going there—as it is not a tourist destination and there is no airport. If a boat is available, police clearance must be obtained before an application can be submitted to both the South African government and the powers that be on the island—and then the stay can be a lengthy one. It is pretty hard work, a long trip, and an even longer stay to sip a beer in a remote pub. But travelers fortunate enough to have done it swear that it is worth it.

On offer in the bar are South African beers and wines and Scottish whiskeys, among other drinks. It might not be the bar with the best ambiance in the world, but the locals are friendly and answer questions about their remote life patiently—probably because they don’t see many new faces in their bar that often.[6]

4 Under the Maldivian Sea

The Subsix Bar in Niyama, Maldives, opened in 2012 and has undergone various changes and upgrades. However, what is still as spectacular as it was and doesn’t need any renovations is its underwater surroundings.

The Niyama Subsix Bar originally opened as an underwater nightclub—the first in the world of its sort at the time. Subsix is located about 6 meters (20 feet) below the surface of the Indian Ocean. Situated 500 meters (0.3 miles) from Niyama Island, Subsix is only reachable by boat. The bar is ocean-themed with spectacular décor, borrowing heavily from its surroundings. It offers lunches, parties, special events, and marine biologist-led aquatic activities.[7]

3 Getting Drunk in a Tree Trunk in South Africa

Probably one of the most unique bars in the world was operated inside a very old Baobab tree on a farm in the Limpopo Province in South Africa. The Sunland Pub opened its trunk for visitors in 1993 and was set inside the upside-down tree—as it is called by locals. The tree is more than 22 meters (72 feet) high and has a circumference of 47 meters (155 feet) with a 4-meter-high (13-foot) ceiling. The bar could easily accommodate fifteen patrons at a time. The tree’s age is disputed, as it is thought to be 6000+ years old by some—making it older than the Giza pyramids. However, there is agreement that it may be at least over a thousand years old and one of the world’s oldest and biggest living trees.

Baobab trees grow throughout the savannas of sub-Saharan Africa and are known to become very big. Unfortunately, many of these big Baobabs are collapsing, which happened to the Sunland Bar tree in 2016. Sadly, the bar is closed to the public now, as the property is under a new leasing contract. [8]

2 A Pint in the Oldest Bar in the World–Maybe

Around AD 900, Luain Mac Luighdeach (Luain son of Lewy) lived and established an inn close to Áth Mor—The Great Ford—in what is Athlone, Ireland, today. These days the bar at the inn is called Sean’s Bar and is, according to Guinness World Records, the oldest bar in Ireland. Research is underway to establish if it is indeed the oldest bar in the world, and so far, the outcome looks positive. In 1970, renovations to the inn revealed that the walls of the bar were made of wattle and wicker and dated back to the 9th century. In addition, old coins minted by several landlords from the area for barter purposes were also found. Parts of the walls and some of the coins are displayed in the National Museum, while a small section is displayed in the pub.

Guided tours at Sean’s Bar treat punters on the history of whiskey—a word coined by King Henry II’s army after sampling the local uisce beatha (water of life). Research showed that distilling started in the small monasteries around Athlone in the 6th century. So, there’s one for the bucket list—having a whiskey and saying sláinte is táinte (slawn-che iss toin-che), meaning “health and wealth” in the oldest pub in Ireland (and probably the world).[9]

1 Speakeasy in LA if You Are Connected Enough!

Probably the pubs or bars gripping the imagination the most are speakeasies or speakeasy bars. They dated from eras when alcohol was prohibited as pubs, bars, and liquor shops were operating undercover. People visiting had to “speak easy” (softly) not to be discovered. Secret bars have made a comeback in recent years, with wonderfully secretive establishments springing up in just about every city around the world.

The Blue Room is such a secret bar, which is accessed through a hidden bookcase door on the 3rd floor of the Los Angeles Athletic Club and is a sought-after speakeasy with a long history. Unfortunately, access is only allotted to the 20 inaugural members of “The Lofty and Exalted Order of Uplifters”—who are probably all dead already—or to those recommended by one of them (or probably a living descendant by now).

The Blue Room was initially established after the club opened in 1912 to host evenings of fellowship and networking by some of their (apparent) inaugural members—Walt Disney, Clark Gable, Will Rogers, and L. Frank Baum, who seemingly came up with the name for the group. The club moved to another location in 1920 but was relaunched in its original quarters in 2015.

Unfortunately, the closest we as unconnected plebians would ever come to the Blue Room was to be in the know. However, things changed with their relaunch in 2015. The LA Athletic Club website invites patrons to enjoy the Blue Room on Friday evenings. Its new special menu features ten whiskey-based cocktails in the custom bar, offering over 50 whiskeys.[10]

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