In Lisbon’s Bairro Alto, finding a place for a drink is simply a matter of closing your eyes and pointing; the bars are everywhere! When beer and wine won’t cut it, however, and the night calls for something stronger, head straight to these venues. Lisbon’s old bohemian center is now also a fantastic location for inexpensive, oftentimes large, delicious cocktails.
Cocktail Bar, European, Contemporary, Mediterranean, Portuguese, $$$
CINCO lounge | CINCO. Yannig Van de Wouwer/Flickr.
So super close to Bairro Alto that it may as well be in Bairro Alto, you’ll find the CINCO Lounge, a unique experience for cocktail mixing and socializing. It’s actually located off the beaten path, west of the main streets and bars, and in a quieter neighborhood than may be expected, away from Lisbon’s busiest nightlife centers. You may spend the night exclaiming “I wasn’t here”, but only because it’s one of their signature drinks, along with Foam Party, Jeff Vader, The Usual Suspects, and Put A Cork In It. CINCO Lounge is the place to go with friends, the seating is comfortable, and you can hear each other talk (and hear yourself think, maybe about your next choice of cocktail). Are you curious about mixing cocktails in addition to drinking them? CINCO Lounge also offers multilingual mixing courses.
How would you like a side of eclectic personality with your gin, vodka, or whiskey? The décor at Maria Caxuxa is a bit vintage, which is a common theme in Lisbon, and the drink prices are on the low-average side (caipirinhas cost around €5). Once a bakery and pastry shop, the bar’s ambiance comes complete with a wood-fired stove and though it has since been completely transformed into a cocktail bar, some snacks (like toasted sandwiches) are still offered on the menu. At Maria Caxuxa you can hear music from a DJ and on some nights enjoy a bit of stand-up comedy.
One of the top reasons for visiting Portugal are the beaches, but even when you’re in the capital it’s easy to get a little sun and fun incorporated into your day. Though Bali Bar doesn’t have an iconic rooftop like many other venues in Lisbon, this cocktail bar does have a sunny atmosphere. Decorated with surfboards and fishnets, the design is inspired by its Indonesian namesake. Do you want a local’s recommendation? Try a caipirinha or mojito for a summery twist. The Bali Bar is also one of the few venues in Bairro Alto that has live music.
Known in English as “the Corner Bar” this watering hole is a true favorite with the locals. The venue is bright on the inside, with turquoise and motif walls and framed artwork, and DJ music helps lighten it up further. This is a good place to go for cheap drinks and when you want to begin your night early, since it opens at 7 PM (and closes at 2 AM). And although Bairro Alto is known for cramped spaces (and standing with your drink outside), the Clube da Esquina usually has seating available inside if you head over early enough.
Would you like to visit a location that has withstood the test of time and continues to be a favorite? Majong is one of the oldest bars in the neighborhood and among the first to draw creative minds together in Bairro Alto. While it’s common for bars in this area to stray a little far from contemporary decor, the cabbage-shaped hanging lights are unlike any others you’ll see and help this venue stand out from the crowd. The bar serves wine and beer but the cocktails are one of the top reasons to visit, in addition to the music.
Cocktail Bar, Portuguese, European, Mediterranean, $$$
Have you ever tried Portuguese tapas? Otherwise known as petiscos, they span a wide range of Portuguese treats, and a menu dedicated to Portuguese and exotic tapas accompany the cocktails at Alto do Bairro. Why exotic? Alto do Bairro offers a mix of Portuguese and Cape Verde recipes (like rice pudding made with coconut milk). As for drinks, the venue has a long list of cocktails from €4.50 for caipirinhas to €7 for different types of gin, keeping it around average priced for the Bairro Alto area.