Istanbul’s Best Cocktail Bars

Istanbul Bar
Istanbul Bar | © Julius Cruickshank
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

Istanbul’s cocktail bar scene has just recently come to full fruition, with talented mixologists behind the bar making classics as well as signature drinks. From Arnavutköy’s lively nightlife scene all the way to Pera, Istanbul’s cocktail bars are exploring the world of imbibing with style. Check out our favorites.

1. Alexandra

Cocktail Bar, Turkish, Cocktails, Wine, Beer

One of Istanbul’s most popular bars as of late, Alexandra has a cozy interior with wood paneling and couches, as well as a few seats outside under the heaters in case the weather gets too cold. The menu is very short and direct, offering around nine signature cocktails including the Amor Duro, for which bartender Osman Fethi Baysan won the Tahona Society Cocktail Competition. Aiming to become one of the best cocktail bars in the city, Alexandra has already started its climb toward the top.

2. Efendi

Bar, Beer, Turkish

Quite the neighborhood bar in the Teşvikiye neighborhood, Efendi is always crowded on the weekends with cocktail-carrying patrons hanging out outside. Inside you’ll find an antique-meets-retro aesthetic, while the music is always leaning toward jazz, funk, and soul. Behind the bar, well-known bartender Uğur Tekebaş mixes up some excellent drinks from his signature cocktails with a herb twist to the classics.

3. ANY

Restaurant, Cocktails, Turkish

Arnavutköy’s favorite bistro by day turns into its favorite bar by night, when the crowds emerge and make their way inside to order a round of drinks. You’ll know you’ve come to ANY when you see the stained glass windows and the beautiful Ottoman-style house above. Both the wide beer selection and the house cocktails are very popular, as is the live DJ music.

4. Külhanbeyi

Bar, Restaurant, Cocktails, Pub Grub, Turkish

Tucked away in the basement of a restaurant, behind a thick velvet curtain, Külhanbeyi is certainly one of Istanbul’s most original cocktail bars. There’s definitely a classic 1920s flair, including the décor, furniture, and glassware that was carefully selected from Istanbul’s flea markets and antique stores. As for the name, kulhanbeyiis a person who tends to the coal room, as the bar is situated in a space that used to power the first ever metro in Istanbul. Lest we forget, the house cocktails are also quite excellent.

5. Luzia

Bar, Cafe, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Cocktails

The Turkish branch of the popular Berlin bar Luzia, Luzia in Arnavutköy stands out with the large marble lion that greets all patrons right in the entrance. Original floor tiling, retro-chic furniture, an old piano upstairs clearly convey the bar’s Berlin origins. Run by independent filmmaker Kaan Müjdeci, Luzia’s café is open during the day, while at night the bar upstairs is the place to go for perfectly prepared craft cocktails.

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