February 12, 2015

Bar Hopping in Gamla Stan!

Photo: ©Erik Nissen Johansen, Pharmarium
I remember 20 years ago (yes, I am that old) when Stockholmers generally avoided visiting bars & restaurants in Gamla Stan ("the old town"). They were considered for the most part to be too touristy and not of the best quality. The difference today is pretty astounding... not only are some of Stockholm's best restaurants (Frantzén, Fem Små Hus, Kryp In, Djuret, Den Gyldene Freden among many others) located in this historic part of the city, so are many of the city's best cocktail bars! More good news when it comes to adult beverages is that cocktail culture has really made inroads in Stockholm over the past decade. Gone are the days when a gin & tonic was the most creative thing you could order in a Stockholm bar. Here are some of the best cocktail bars in Gamla Stan:

  • Pharmarium- named "best bar" in Stockholm recently by the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Located in the same building as Stockholm's first apothecary, the cocktails have ingredients that were often used historically for medicinal purposes. Click here to read about my visit here. Location
  • Tweed- winner of the "best bar" award last year. Cozy, like a London gentleman's club with Chesterfield armchairs and tartan clad walls. Located in the Victory Hotel, which also contains The Burgundy wine bar and newly opened Bottles.
  • Mister French- a great restaurant, it also has an equally great cocktail bar with an interior design reminiscent of the Great Gatsby. With its location on the harbor waterfront, it is especially a must-visit during the summer months when they open a great outdoor lounge and bar. My visit.
  • Corner Club- same owner as the (Michelin 2 star) restaurant Frantzén across the street, this bar has a nice atmosphere and always a great cocktail menu. Location.
  • Le Bar- if Tweed resembles a London gentleman's club, then Le Bar will take you back to turn of the century Paris with its red velvet, gold fringe and chandeliers. Finer dining option in their main restaurant, Le Rouge, otherwise they also have a great bar menu (French dishes, of course!). Location. My report... way back in 2010. 
  • Gondolen- although not exactly in Gamla Stan, it is located on the edge and does overlook the old town. Besides the fantastic views, it also has one of Stockholm's classic cocktail bars. My recent visit.
Art deco bar at Mr French.
The above cocktail bars are of the fancier variety. There are also several great pubs and other bars in Gamla Stan to choose from:
  • Wirströms- Irish pub and sports bar with live music and a great selection of beers (including both Swedish & international craft beers). Location.
  • Ardbeg Embassy- besides being a Swedish restaurant, it is also a pub/bar where you can try 24 Swedish microbrewery beers and around 230 single malt whiskeys. Location.
  • Stampen- famous Stockholm pub with live jazz music and eclectic interiors. Location.
  • Torget- popular, cozy gay bar... and one of the oldest gay bars in Stockholm. Location
  • The Liffey- another popular Irish pub and sports bar with live music in the old town! Location.
A fuzzy picture taken at Tweed.
This is all good news if you are staying at the Rival Hotel... Gamla Stan is just a 10 minute walk from the hotel so you don't have to worry about drinking and driving if you want to go bar hopping there. If you are travelling by yourself and want company on your evening of bar hopping, then you might want to try the Stockholm Pub Crawl... a guided crawl of a few pubs in Gamla Stan and Södermalm.
Gamla Stan in the summertime.

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