A classy lounge in an unlikely place. By Dana Filek-Gibson. Photos by Vinh Dao.
Hidden above a restaurant and up a flight of stairs, Bar’s Bar is the sort of place you have to know in order to find. From the street, its location is all but invisible, masked by Baby Spoon, an eatery directly opposite Ben Thanh Market. However those willing to climb a few stairs will be pleasantly rewarded by what’s waiting at the top.
A dark wooden bar runs the length of the narrow room, heavily polished and accompanied by plush, U shaped chairs, affording far more comfort than your average bar stool. Though the space isn’t very big, a handful of small tables manage to take up the left side of the joint. Behind the bar, bartenders in vests and crisp white button-ups stand sentinel over Bar’s Bar’s commendable collection of spirits. The smooth sounds of Sinatra float through the air, transporting you away from the bustle of downtown Saigon and into a bygone era. Add to this a bit of mood lighting and Bar’s Bar has all the trappings of a classy establishment.
For cocktails, Bar’s Bar breaks down its offerings by liquor, listing a range of classic rum-, vodka-, gin- and whiskey-based cocktails, among others. The bartenders are experts at crafting these old favourites, not to mention striking up a conversation. Classic drinks run between VND 140,000 and VND 170,000 each, while the bar’s trio of original cocktails – known simply as Aoi, Asahi and Akane – will set you back VND 200,000 apiece. Though their descriptions don’t make it onto the menu, bartenders are happy to run down the ingredients for each. The Aoi, strongest of the three, is a smooth, refreshing blend of Bombay Sapphire, Blue Curacao and lemon, its taste neither too sweet nor too overpowering.
Beyond mixed drinks, a section of the shelves is devoted to whiskey, from Scotch to Japanese, with a single pour starting from VND 150,000, though top-shelf liquors may run as high as VND 300,000 or VND 400,000. Wines are available by the glass at VND 130,000, though it’s wiser to opt for the bottle list, as this offers a more extensive selection. Beers are scarce, with only Sapporo (VND 60,000) and, oddly, Corona (VND 100,000) making it onto the menu.
Whatever you’re drinking, Bar’s Bar exudes plenty of class, and its well-stocked bar combined with knowledgeable mixologists and just the right amount of cool make it a hideaway not to be missed.