Discover tucked-away bars in Hanoi’s Old Quarter

By Ngoc Diep   December 9, 2020 | 06:04 pm GMT+7
Home to a bustling, rowdy ambiance of typical cocktail bars, Hanoi is also known for its hidden retro-styled bars, or so-called 'speakeasies'.

In a themed, hidden-away space with limited seating and crafty concoctions, customers are invited to side-step the nocturnal hustle and bustle of Hanoi.

Born in the U.S. in the 1920s and 30s, speakeasies formerly epitomized rebellion and secrecy. In Hanoi, supposed equivalents are typically tucked away in narrow alleys or have their hard-to-find entrances often elaborately disguised. Most are known only among a small community of regulars keen on their bespoke cocktails. Such little quirks create a unique nightlife experience at these hidden drinking dens.

Bee’Znees

Situated at 163 Phung Hung Street in Hoan Kiem District, Bee’Znees has a deceiving bookshelf facade. Don’t be fooled though, behind it lies a narrow staircase that leads you up to the second floor bar. To "unlock" the entrance, find and pull one of the books on the shelf, located to the right.

The first floor Bee’Znees entrance is disguised as a cozy library.

The first floor Bee’Znees entrance is disguised as a cozy library.

Bee’Znees offers cozy atmosphere, soft jazzy melodies, and high-end whiskeys. It regularly updates its menu and releases creative cocktails. Swing by on the weekend for live music shows and sip on a fizzy cocktail or two. Prices start from VND250,000 to VND500,000 ($10.8-21.7) per drink.

A Hard Day’s Night

Stowed away at 8 Nguyen Quang Bich Street in Hoan Kiem District, A Hard Day’s Night boasts a dimly-lit, intimate ambiance. Outside, green plants and shrubs flank the front to enliven the entrance.

As guests enter, they are greeted by a dark, rustic, and minimal space with wooden furniture and nostalgic Beatles’ tunes.

The bar serves a simple selection of cocktails, most of which containing Japanese liquor like sake or umeshu. If you’re feeling spontaneous, brief the bartender on your mood and preferences for your own bespoke cocktail. Prices vary from VND100,000 to VND150,000 a drink.

A Hard Day’s Night is the go-to bar for Beatles fans.

A Hard Day’s Night is the go-to bar for Beatles fans.

The Alchemist

A few steps from A Hard Day’s Night, The Alchemist is another viable option that offers exclusivity and privacy from the moment you walk in. It is located on the second floor of the building at 19 Nguyen Quang Bich Street, Hoan Kiem District and carries vibes of an artsy cigar bar with its large abstract paintings and niche jazz sounds.

This is a favored nighttime destination for bar connoisseurs. The skillful and passionate bartenders constantly release new concoctions using local ingredients and new kinds of spirits. Here, you reportedly can find century-old whiskey bottles and a variety of fragrant cocktails with either herbal or fruity tones.

The cocktail bar focuses on innovative drinks that highlight local ingredients and their unique flavors.

The Alchemist focuses on innovative drinks that highlight local ingredients and their unique flavors.

Drinks are categorized by age, taste, and alcohol concentration. Prices range from VND200,000 to VND250,000. The Alchemist also offers burgers, steaks, and ribs to munch on with your drink.

Those dancing days

The address of Those dancing days is not public and requires a reservation since it only receives three guests at a time.

The space is almost silent with the occasional Johann Johansson, Norah Jones, and Nat King Cole vinyl record playing. Another unique feature of the bar is the lack of a menu, making all cocktails bespoke.

On Mondays, the bar turns off all the lights for an immersive drinking experience in the dark.

Photos courtesy of the bars

 
 
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