Smack in the middle of Buenos Aires' Palermo Viejo party zone, this fashionable, super cool, cocktail-fueled, pre-club hangout is often the place to be on the weekends – and even during the week for that matter. During the summer, the slickly dressed crowd pack out the large patio garden out back (which is equipped with its own bar) and drink into the wee hours of the morning. But in any season, you will see people enjoying Congo's cocktail selection (which is heavily citrusy and tropical) amidst the bar's brown and neutral tones. Come early (before 11pm) to avoid the long lines outside.
Recommended for Bars because: Bar Congo is a popular place in happening Palermo Viejo.
Sarah's expert tip: To avoid the lines later on, one idea would be to come to Congo and have dinner. However, only cash is accepted; no credit cards.
Verne Club is a winning cocktail bar inspired by French science fiction writer Jules Verne. The tentacles on the menu and behind the bar channel Verne's "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," but there's no kitsch here. Verne Club is eminently elegant and civilized with its dark-colored, Victorian- and steam punk-inspired décor. (Look closely at the bar and you'll find a collection of gears inside the glass.) The relaxed vibe, low lighting and retro music softly playing in the background make it a good place to enjoy a good conversation while sipping one of the house's expertly mixed cocktails. If you're feeling adventurous, try one of the cocktail tasting menus or a traditional French absinthe service.
Recommended for Bars because: Verne Club is a calm but hip place to enjoy a great cocktail.
Sarah's expert tip: While cocktails are Verne Club's reason to exist, don't ignore the food. The selection of delicious tapas and gourmet hot dogs deserve your rapt attention as well.
One of the city's great bars, 878 was once a speakeasy of sorts. It still has no sign, though the bouncer and sometimes a gaggle of smokers on the sidewalk mark the location. (In their absence, ring the bell.) Inside, patrons find themselves in a high-ceilinged lounge with a fashionably pared-down aesthetic of exposed brick walls, dim lighting and tea lights among a well-dressed crowd of locals and jet-setters sipping drinks and enjoying modern Argentine fare. 878 has nice cocktails and an extensive wine list, but I've also found that the barmen are more than happy to mix you up something new.
Recommended for Bars because: Bar 878 delivers good cocktails in a dark, relaxed ambiance.
Sarah's expert tip: Look carefully for 878 or you might just walk straight past it. When in doubt, take a taxi and they'll drop you at the door.
With a name that means something along the lines of "weird world," Mundo Bizarro revels in its quirkily retro, slightly underground vibe. Starting with the flashing neon sign out front, Mundo Bizarro is not a place to be ignored. Inside, black leather sofas, heavy drapes and loads of red create a cool atmosphere in this Buenos Aires rockabilly bar. Early on (before 11pm, I mean) you might manage to bag a vinyl booth for a relaxed cocktail from the long list, but later, the tunes crank up and late night Palermo drinkers fill the space. But when other places start to close, Mundo Bizarro makes for a good last stop.
Recommended for Bars because: Mundo Bizarro is just a really fun Palermo drinking hole.
Sarah's expert tip: True to its retro theme, you won't see trendy concoctions around here; Mundo Bizarro sticks to classic American and international cocktails like mai tais and negronis.
Omm feels like an old friend – a place to return to again and again. Small and intimate, this low-key bar is a calm change of pace to the sea of Palermo bars surrounding it. It has dim lighting, a candle on every table and non-obtrusive tunes in the background. More importantly, Omm has a good selection of cocktails. You'll probably see the owner behind the bar; he's quiet but kind and, when asked, he's happy to advise you or mix you up a custom cocktail. You can choose to sit inside or outside; outside is most pleasant on a summer night, but there are heat lamps in winter to ensure you don't freeze your parts off.
Recommended for Bars because: When you're not looking for a raucous night, Omm is the bar that won't let you down.
Sarah's expert tip: While most people come to Omm for the drinks, the bar is also a laid-back option for dinner or tapas. The Spanish-style omelet is particularly good.
Located in Buenos Aires' upscale Recoleta neighborhood, the gastrobar Gran Bar Danzon stands out for a reason. Trendy patrons and a slick atmosphere make this the perfect spot for learning all about Argentine wines; try working through the list of over 400 wines served by the glass. Gran Bar Danzon's charms also include peerless bar food and dexterous mixologists. Otherwise, the restaurant serves up upscale international cuisine with Argentine touches (think meats, pastas and sushi). The desserts are particularly delicious, but if you're having trouble deciding and are with a trusted group, then consider yourself lucky and go for the dessert sampling.
Recommended for Bars because: Gran Bar Danzón is an attractive place for a drink in Recoleta.
Sarah's expert tip: If you're heading out to Gran Bar Danz�n for dinner and not just cocktails, try to make a reservation. You can do that online or by phone.
Located in Recoleta near the Sofitel Hotel, Florería Atlántico is actually a secret retro-inspired bar that is not so secret. By name it appears to be a flower shop but when you first step inside there are more wines for sale than flowers; however, behind a side door is where the action is: the award-winning bar itself. This secret bunker is like a proud ship of good cocktails with one foot in the past celebrating Argentina's European immigrants and one foot in the present with a hip vibe and modern soundtrack. The basement bar has fantastic sea creatures and maritime motifs gracing the walls and its menus pay homage to countries like Italy, Spain and Poland.
When you're looking for a cool place to have a drink in Buenos Aires, Victoria Brown is definitely up there with the best of them. This smooth bar has great cocktails, speakeasy-inspired decor and a chill vibe. The place can get packed though, which makes reservations a must. At the front you will find a cute, small cafe that is open during the day, but past the bouncer and the large door at the back, a different world awaits when the sun goes down. The bar combines the underground glamour of old New York speakeasies with 19th century whiskey distilleries and clear steampunk overtures.
Recommended for Bars because: Victoria Brown offers up charming decor and a cool vibe.
Sarah's expert tip: The themed menus are enticing but the food can be hit or miss. On the other hand, the cocktails at Victoria Brown are consistently heavenly.
A class act through and through, Doppelgänger is the place to go for great, classic cocktails in Buenos Aires. Their list is quite extensive, meaning it will probably take you a while to decide on a cocktail, much less read about them all. With Doppelgänger's retro décor, polished atmosphere and hipster-ish waiters, you'd be forgiven for thinking you were in Palermo and not its location in San Telmo. But that's fine; it just means that those who come to Doppelgänger do so on purpose. Kindred spirits, if you will. Besides the drinks, Doppelgänger's food is also mighty fine; the desserts are particularly inspiring.
Buenos Aires doesn't specialize in outdoor drinking spots, but Milion is the pick of the bunch in central BA. Fashioned out of a beautiful old French style mansion and secreted away on the residential streets of Recoleta and the Barrio Norte, Milion is spread out over a terrace, a garden and a lofty-ceilinged interior. DJ sets, cutting edge art and screenings of film shorts add to the modish mix. And if you fancy a drink, you will have plenty to choose from, both classic cocktails and modern concoctions. Milion draws a varied crowd, but you will see well-heeled 30 somethings in particular.