A Bit of a Baku Bar Briefing

Selection_081Finding an evening drink in Baku is very easy. Finding the right one is tricky. Good news: there are no end of bars, pubs, watering holes and restaurants. Bad news: it depends what you want, and finding a lively and ‘happening’ bar can be chancy – there is little rhythm to when any pub could be lively or dull. Good news: the main expat bars are conveniently grouped in a few choice areas, so hopping between them is easy. Many have live music, (good news AND bad news) especially on a Friday and Saturday evenings. But set your watch – like Moscow, the evening starts late and finishes … later than I have ever lasted. Many have pool tables, most have international sport on TV, not a few may have late night guests who are all too keen to chat to expat visitors.

Most main hotels have decent bars, usually at a price. Most impressive is the rotating panoramic bar at the top of the Hilton. There are an assortment of bars with character, often German-themed, in the old city. But for the biggest choice of watering holes close together, head to Fountains Square. The square itself is lined with cafes, restaurants and bars. Best value of these is Araz – excellent for a beer after work, or a simple meal.

A couple of streets to the south, towards the Caspian, are a whole run of opportunities, including: Otto’s, Phoenix, The Clansman, Finnegan’s, O’Malley’s and the William Shakespeare. Several of these are Irish or Scottish, and often partisan (by football loyalty). The Shakespeare has a popular pool table, until the band starts, and is probably the best all round expat bet, most evenings.

To the north east of Fountains Square, behind ‘The Lady with the Umbrella’ bronze statue, who stands close by McDonald’s is another cluster of bars, with The Garage, The Fountain and the Tequila Bar all right together, and more like The London Pub, which is not far away. Also close by these are many bars/clubs in basements. As a general rule, if it is underground, beware.

The choice is yours.