One of Buenos Aires’s best bartenders gives us his guide to the very best places to drink, so you can party like a true porteño.
Buenos Aires is a city with a serious passion for cocktails, and a habit of staying up well past bedtime. Across its dozens of lively, unique neighbourhoods, the city has a swathe of magnificent coctelerías, serving up some of the most innovative drinks in South America.
Sebastian Atienza, owner of Tres Monos in Palermo SoHo, is one of the bartenders spearheading this scene at the moment. A drink-slinger since the age of 18, Atienza has worked all around the world over the last seventeen years, popping up in such legendary establishments as Bar Termini – in London’s Soho – and Two Schmucks in Barcelona. “I fell in love with bars because I loved providing hospitality to people,” Atienza says. “People always remember how you made them feel, and that’s what I’m in it for.” A true bartender’s bartender, Atienza told Culture Trip about the places he loves best, where the drinks are strong, the music is loud, and the atmosphere is electric night after night.
No prizes for guessing what’s on offer here. This rough-and-ready dive bar – an oasis of anarchy in the centre of well-heeled Recoleta – has been blasting Metallica and serving up Fernet-and-Cokes for 12 years, building a cult following in the process. “The bar owners here are my friends,” Atienza says, “so we like to head here after closing time to carry on the night.” Don’t be fooled by its sticky floors; its cocktails hold up against anywhere else in the city, and its hospitality keeps customers coming back time after time.
Atienza is perhaps a bit biased in this suggestion – he worked there as head bartender for four years, after all – but he can be forgiven, as this stunning bar is currently ranked third in the World’s 50 Best Bars 2019. Hidden behind a perfectly innocuous flower shop frontage, this snug basement speakeasy is forever busy, forever welcoming, and has a constant rotation of “beautiful cocktails with an Argentinian profile,” according to Atienza. Be sure to book ahead – spots at the bar are like gold dust, but worth it if you manage to snag one.
BrukBar is Palermo SoHo through and through – indeed, if you picked it up and dropped it in Greenwich Village, it wouldn’t feel in the slightest out of place. A lively, boozy bolthole where ridiculous deals – 195 pesos (£2.50) for classic cocktails on Tuesdays, for example – and a habit of staying open after 4am make for a firm bartender and porteño favourite. Places this friendly have a habit of commanding loyalty, and if you do frequent it, you’ll likely see the same faces coming back time and again – Atienza included.
“I know I shouldn’t say it, but we have the best menu in the city!” Atienza has no hesitation in recommending his bar, Tres Monos, as one of the city’s best; but it is, so he can. “We’re a punk space,” he says, “for people who, above all else, like drinking well.” Atienza’s cocktails are imaginative, well-balanced, and eminently drinkable – although if you want something classic, or something improvised, his knowledgeable team have no issue in turning their hands to your request. Free shots are dished out with regularity, and the music switches from scene-setting to singalong all night long – if you want a real night out in Buenos Aires, it’s a one-stop-shop.
Norwegian Airlines operates a non-stop London Gatwick to Buenos Aires flight priced from £545 return LowFare economy as well as eight domestic routes. A one-night stay in the Palladio Hotel Buenos Aires – MGallery is priced from £120 based on two adults sharing a deluxe room on a room-only basis. For more information on tours, attractions and Buenos Aires as a visitor destination, visit their tourist board website.