Ah Saigon, the shining global city with so much heritage, elegant restaurants, towering department stores, and busy nightclubs flocked with young locals. With so much to see here, you’re probably thirsting for a good drink in a nice place – so, not one of those dingy tourist traps – before the night is over. From hidden speakeasies in less visible corners to classic cocktail bars with ample lighting, these are the places for the best drinks in Ho Chi Minh City.
Below Whisky Den
Below is hell of a whisky den, but don’t expect shelf after shelf of obscure bottles. These guys pride themselves in quality over quantity, serving mostly single malts from Scotland with a mere 2% allocated towards the good Japanese stuff. As for their cocktails, expect whisky-based librations with the occasional extravagant flavours like the Coe – pineapple skin-infused Glen Turner Heritage, Cinzano Bianco, and Corana frangipani flower cordial with citrus and soda water. Come here with a thirst for the fine things, and you’ll feel right at home thanks to the impressive hospitality.
Below Whisky Den is located at 41 Nguyen Hue St, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, +84 90 278 88 48. Open daily 6pm – 1am.
It sounds shady, but this place is as real as it gets. It probably doesn’t help either that Snuffbox is tucked within an old run-down building. Once you manage to find your way into the small speakeasy lounge, you’ll be pleased with the 1920s themed space serving up quality wine and inventive cocktails, from the spicy bourbon-based Spīs/ with housemade pineapple jam, lemongrass, cinnamon, and anise to a funkier berē/ made with Rhum Mía, cointreau, mulberry, black pepper, and pandan syrup. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for updates on the weekly performance lineup, from instrumentalists to DJs.
Snuffbox is located at 14 Ton That Dam, Nguyen Thai Binh, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, p. +84 94 170 18 88. Open daily 6pm – 3am.
“Cocktails inspired by the yakuza” is a strange way to describe drinks, but this chic bar in District 1 truly embodies the spirit of Saigon alley culture. After all, “Irusu” is a Japanese word that basically means pretending not to be home when someone knocks on the door. Blasting R&B and soul classics straight from a curated vinyl library, this two-storey bar offers a range of unique barrel-aged draft cocktails for sundowners and late night parties, as well as bubblies, wines, shochu, and sakes galore. A small menu of Japanese snacks is also available.
Irusu Lounge is located at 57 Nguyen Du, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, p. +84 28 3824 5533. Open daily 5pm – 2am.
Yes, you know the drill: jump down the Rabbit Hole to find some of the best classic cocktails Ho Chi Minh has to offer. The Head Bartender, Thien Dat, used to work in the well-established Monde in Tokyo, so you know he’s well-versed in the classics. Together with industry top dog Peter Nguyen, who’s more into avant garde cocktails, you get a wicked pair that’s currently taking the city by storm. Signatures include a Manhattan made smokier with sarsaparilla wood and a Rabbit’s Gin Fizz – a twist on the Ramos Gin Fizz – made using butterfly pea, chamomile-infused gin, Lebanese orange blossom water, lemon, lime, and egg white.
Rabbit Hole is located at 138 Nam Ki Khoi Nghia St, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, p. +84 28 3823 4896. Open daily 6pm – 2am.
If you know your whiskies, you’d recognise the name “Firkin” as a reference to the small oak barrels used to age the golden spirit. Yes, this is a whisky bar – one with well over a 100 bottles at any time. Enjoy your dram need or in a bespoke cocktail tailored to your preferences. The Old Fashioned and Paper Plane are easy favourites, but you might just want something created just for you – named by the drinker and saved in Firkin’s archives for others to enjoy. The Cherry Bonnie, with Aultmore 12 Years, Aperol, Montenegro, and Black Cherry, is one such example.
Firkin is located at 20 Mac Thi Buoi St., Ben Nghe W, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. +84 93 131 27 23. Open daily 5pm – 2am.
Corked Tales is more than a fun pun on cocktails – this Le Thanh Ton Street bar is also home to a series of majestic magical creatures that inspired the menu, revolving around the six elements of life: fire, water, air, earth, wood, and metal. Bathed in a warm light and crystals hanging all around the space, popular signatures include the feisty Funkmasterz, a confident concoction of jackfruit rum, longan, peat smoke, and lavender. Barrel-aged Negronis and Boulevadiers are also available, along with an impressive list of over 30 cocktails classics.
Corked Tales is located at M Floor, CJ Building, 6 Le Thanh Ton, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, p. +84 86 711 82 88. Open daily 5pm – 1am.
Alley Cocktail Bar & Kitchen
Along the confines of Pasteur Street is The Alley, the trendy cocktail bar from Minh Tan Pham, one of the key players in Vietnam’s ever-growing cocktail scene. The vintage decor lures you into a fantastical world of chill vibes, good music, and of course, quality cocktails. This is where the former Diageo ambassador pays homage to the flavours of his youth, which he accomplishes with fruits and spices from around the Mekong (the sours are especially popular!) Need a crispy nibble? Try the Vietnamese spring rolls and chicken wings with every sip you take.
Alley Cocktail Bar& Kitchen is located at 63/1 Pasteur, Ben Nghe, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, +94 93 565 39 69. Open Mon-Wed 5pm – 12am, Thu-Sat 5pm – 1am.
Drinking & Healing
Welcoming and intimate, Drinking & Healing is the kind of place you go when you need some revitalising goodness in your life – after all, it’s in the name, isn’t it? The bar specialises in gin and tonics with a variety of botanicals thrown into the mix: local dried sakura, pink peppercorn, and sage leaf, for example. If you’re uncertain about your preferred profile, let the bartenders know and they’ll whip up something cool according to your mood. Strangely, these guys also make amazing cheeseburgers, so you might want to come with your stomach empty.
Drinking & Healing is located at 25 Ho Tung Mau Street, Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, +84 93 411 01 10. Open daily 6.30pm – 2am.
The Racha Room (“Racha” mean King) is as much a cocktail bar as it is a hip eatery for delicious Pan-Asian cuisine. Plus, its first Asian-inspired menu in nearly a year, which launched a few months back, is a lot of fun. The new Nam Bam Roku cocktail, for one is an aromatic and fruity number of Roku Gin, tangerine, pear, and cherry blossom layered with foamy egg white. The sriracha oyster shooters – Racha’s version of the Bloody Mary with tongue-numbing Sichuan pepper – with a fresh Nha Trang oyster below, are a must try.
Racha Room is located at 12 – 14 Mac Thi Buoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, p. +84 90 879 14 12. Open daily 3pm – 12am.
The Gin House
Another bar that prides itself on creating fantastic renditions of the G&T? We’re in luck! The Gin House is a stylish 1920s London tribute to the medicinal white spirit, and the rarer labels on its shelves are likely to get the approval of even the biggest gin fan. You won’t find scores of flights here, but the gin-based cocktails, like the Ultimate Martini are the ones to look at. Otherwise, go for one of the spectacular house-infused London Dry gins, with tonic of course.
The Gin House is located at 28/3A Duong Ton That Tung, Phuong Pham Ngu Lao, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, +84 90 889 36 60. Open daily 5pm – 2am.
Top Image: Snuffbox
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