Lebanon’s capital city is the night-life hot spot of the region. The sheer number of watering holes found here are testimony to a fun-loving population, whose resilient spirit made it through years of civil conflict unhampered. Here are 10 of the best bars to chill at or party heavily in the hip entertainment neighborhoods of Hamra, Gemmayzeh and, more recently, Mar Mikhael.
Anise, as the name suggests, specializes in arak – a Levantine spirit with an anise flavor. This specialist bar gives guests a chance to sample an extensive variety of homemade arak produced from vines all around the country. Should you not be a convert to the spirit yet, there’s little to worry about; professionally attired mixologists prepare a good range of non-arak cocktails often finished with herbs or other ingredients. Featuring dim mood lighting and the occasional live jazz band, the atmosphere could hardly feel more authentic.
Address: Alexander Fleming Street, Mar Mikhael, Beirut, Lebanon. +961 70977926
It is no easy job to stand out in Hamra, and yet this establishment does. Ferdinand is a small, hip bar in Hamra regularly welcoming a crowd of young artists and expats in its cozy, low-key atmosphere. Above all else, it serves cocktails, Lebanese wines and is renowned for its signature dish – the Ferdi Burger, topped with blueberry jam. Indie and 80s new wave music plays in the background, discreet enough to allow guests to enjoy a book on one of the sofas.
Address: Mahatma Gandhi Street, Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon. +961 1355955
A local favorite, Dany’s bar in Hamra first opened its doors in 2008, and in nearly a decade of its existence has become a regular spot for party goers. The venue is divided into two floors, the lower one regularly hosting live gigs by local bands on a professional stage. When it gets too crowded on the inside, summer evenings turn into something of a lively street party. Expect fresh fruit seasonal cocktails, Almaza beers, Arabic drumming, and a fun-loving atmosphere.
Address: 78th Street, Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon. +961 1740231
Only a few years down the line, February 30 has already established itself as one of Hamra district’s most exciting and lively venues. The decor at this resto-pub is nothing short of wacky. The furniture appears to have been assembled randomly, and yet it couldn’t work better. The vibe is pleasant all week round and every Thursdays brings ‘Antica’ nights – a breath of fresh air in Lebanese nightlife, with folk revival musicians making merry atop the bar counter.
Address: 78th Street, The Alleyway, Hamra, Beirut, Lebanon. +96176994405
At the heart of Beirut’s bustling Uruguay Street, Gatsby promises to bring back a feel of the roaring twenties. Modeled on the infamous Chicago Prohibition-era speakeasies, this dedicated concept bar boasts a charming interior and a refreshing outdoor patio from which to enjoy a variety of carefully crafted bourbon cocktails, signature burgers, and other authentic Midwestern delicacies. For the budget conscious, Sundays to Thursdays happy hour brings a 50% discount that lasts all night.
Address: Uruguay street, Downtown, Beirut, Lebanon. +961 01 992 720