The past month has been challenging and stressful. Going for a drink at my local would have taken the edge off, but up until this week it was out of the question. The lingering unscratched itch left me contemplating the many outstanding bars I get to choose from now that Vietnam’s watering holes are back in action.
The below list is by no means exhaustive but it does cover a wide range of moods — whether you want to see and be seen or to fade into the wallpaper and indulge in a spot of people-watching.
Layla – Eatery & Bar
Layla’s patrons are a cheery crowd, hence the venue’s famously uplifting and laid-back vibe. I’d head here for an after work drink with colleagues, usually as a 2nd or 3rd stop on a mini bar crawl. It’s loud, casual and lots of fun.
A place for companionship where conversations flow and so does the liquor. Layla has a rather extensive food menu, which is great for when I’m feeling peckish but not ready to call it a night just yet.
Skyloft by Glow
Skyloft by Glow is cheerful and vibrant with a spectacular rooftop looking out over the skyline. The space is airy with plenty of comfy sofas to lounge in.
Skyloft’s sundowners always draw a crowd, so come here when you are feeling especially social. Timothy does a great job pulling together an exciting cocktail list alongside their curated bottle service.
A bright yet intimate Japanese bar that sits on the corner of Phan Ke Binh and Nguyen Van Thu, Baron carries off the chic stillness with aplomb.
A large storefront window that feels like a send-back to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, an intimate bar counter with only ten seats, a quiet background murmur of soft music and hushed voices — Baron is the perfect choice for a solo drink or an unpretentious night-cap with a small group of friends.
Address: 38 Nguyen Binh Khiem, Dictrict 1.
At Dram, an unassuming entrance belies the sheer size and the impressive selection of whiskeys on offer. Refined and mature, this is a place to embrace slow living, when a quiet drink in my own company sounds like the perfect end to a perfect day.
While I come to Dram to indulge in self-reflection over a glass of whiskey, it doesn’t mean that Dram’s sophisticated and somewhat reserved atmosphere can’t be enjoyed in the company of others.
Theloser. is a quirky place boasting a collection of neon signs and vintage paintings that cloak the space in warm, washed-out hues. It’s situated on the second floor of an old apartment complex, hence a laid-back, easy-going, your-neighborhood-bar vibe. I come here when I need a break from the generic speakeasies that have popped up around Saigon.
On those occasions when you’re looking for something fun yet mellow, Irusu is hard to beat. Its offerings are versatile and the ambience at the softly lit bar is warm and cozy. Beautiful glassware, embossed ice cubes and a tailored beverage menu come together to deliver a refined experience while retaining its casual vibe thanks to a nightly-changing hip-hop playlist. Having the talented Phu as your bartender is also a plus.