Most men have an affinity and kinship of sorts for their favorite watering hole. Movies, TV, and books have long depicted the male species visiting and even sneaking out to their favorite bar, being greeted by the barman and other patrons as they pass through the door. The classic was “Norm” being shouted as the stout character from the eighties TV classic Cheers walked in. Bars can be a second home of sorts, exuding a familiar warmth, which comforts and of course there’s the booze that also soothes the soul.
Feeling welcome, liked, appreciated and having access to your beloved beverages with friends is a thing to be celebrated. While there are no shortage of spots around the world offering libations, few become prized, classics and our favorite. Everyone has a different spec for what makes a bar great and ‘theirs’, but when you find one that feels like a comfy old chair, warm and welcoming, it draws you back time and time again and dreaming of your next return.
I’ve been lucky enough to visit a lot of very cool bars in a wide range of spots around the world. Following, in alphabetical order, are five bars that keep me dreaming of my next visit, thoroughly satisfy my thirst on multiple levels, and are well worth ducking in to if you’re in the neighborhood:
Cheap Charlie’s, Bangkok, Thailand
A wooden counter fastened to a wall, in a small alley, just off Sukhumvit Soi 11, is where drinks are poured and enjoyed. Started in 1990 by Khun Satit and his late brother Charlie, as the name suggests, inexpensive beverages is what has helped make Cheap Charlie’s legendary. The owner is cheery, the décor bizarre, there’s always an eclectic mix of people about, the same cassettes from the 1980s are in heavy rotation and it’s always fun. And they have a pretty good range of drinks, from red wine to Jack Daniels and a variety of beer. Oh ya – beware the toilet!
The Last Resort, Naya Pul, Nepal
You certainly won’t stumble upon this one, as it’s located 20km south of Nepal’s border with Tibet, across a frightening footbridge which sways 160m above the raging Bhoti Kosi River and is part of a tented camp resort. But once you’ve arrived, saddled up to the granite bar, and get a few drinks in, you’re not going anywhere soon. True Himalayan bliss.
The Ship & Anchor, Calgary, Canada
Their website boasts, “If a pub could drunkenly hug you this one would” and that accurately sums things up. You could show up in a bear suit (I’ve seen this) or be in a tuxedo (also seen this) and be equally welcomed and not stared at for wearing either. They have an impressive selection of draught beer, focusing mostly on locally made brews, tasty imports and avoid the big, bland national brands. Their pints are true 20oz glasses, prices are always among the most competitive in the city, their food is delicious and inexpensive and they treat their staff well – a rarity in this industry. This is the best pub in Calgary – period.
Teepee Bar, Chiang Rai, Thailand
You’ll love or hate this place. I love it. Started in 1997 by Tu, who lives in tight leather pants, rock t-shirts, and has long, flowing black hair, this is the real, rock n’ roll, hippie deal. A highly eclectic mix of things hangs from every wall and beam, there’s usually a neat musical video playing and the music always rocks. The one thing about coming here, you will leave drunk, and usually must drink with the owner, drink-for-drink. Buckle-in and hang on.
Utopia, Luang Prabang, Laos
Truly aptly named, Utopia oozes cool. Run by the super nice Rob from Canada, there’s something here for everyone: a sand beach volleyball court, nice gardens, proper tables for eating, a long deck overlooking the Nam Khan River with pillows for chilling-out, yoga in the morning (never got up that early to see it), super tasty food, good music and an ultra-chilled vibe. Come with time to spare because once you get settled you won’t want to leave, nor should you.