The Dedicated Drinker’s Guide to Buenos Aires – San Telmo
Truly dedicated drinkers live – and drink – in San Telmo. This small barrio has more bars, resto-bars, cafes, restaurants and liquor outlets per square meter than anywhere else in Buenos Aires, perhaps on the planet. Walk into any Chinese grocery – and there is one on every block – and study the vast array of wines and spirits that cover at least one entire wall. The Chinese are good business people, so if alcohol wasn't selling, they wouldn’t be stocking it.
This bar bills itself as "Polish," and, to its credit stocks zubruowka. This upbeat place is a hangout for the up and coming porteñas – 'people of the port' as Federal Capital residents are so fond of calling themselves. To snag a table or a place at the bar on a Friday night, get there before everyone else gets off work. The rest of the week is more relaxed.
Happy hour is from 18:00 to 22:00 and you can get two Jamison for 30 pesos, about USD6. To use a credit card, however, you have to spend at least 50 pesos. But the good news is you can buy happy hour vouchers in advance. As an aside, use your card whenever possible as you pay less of an exchange rate than withdrawing pesos, which you can’t convert back to dollars except on the black market.
Named after a Celtic legend, this pub is the first brew bar in San Telmo. Three entrepreneurs – Nicolas, Ramiro and Angel – started the bar four years ago, but it has only been in the “new” location for two of them.
The cliental at this interactive pub includes a combination of local office workers, expats and tourists. Check out this fun place where you can play pool, visit with friends, perch at the high tables or slide up to the bar. The pub food – hamburgers, Irish lamb stew and chicken wings – gets good reviews. And is a good way to fortify your stomach for the evening ahead. Happy hour from 18:00 to 22:00.
Cold beer and a wall lined with wine bottles and pickle jars. This place has to be doing something right. There are a couple of precarious looking tables outside, but they are a touch too close to the pedestrian traffic and exhaust fumes for comfort.
The tapas are a refreshing change from the constant pizza, pasta, empanada and parilla. Dark, heavy furniture, antiques and ambience all add up to atmosphere. This is the sort of place where you can break up – or make up – with a lover.
The name – 'red door' in Spanish– says it all because there is no signage. This is a place with attitude. Happy hour is from 18:00 to 22:00. There is a well-stocked bar with bottle-tossing-and-catching bar tenders.
Legend has it that the owner was bored one evening and concocted the "chilli bomb" as a taste adventure. Pour chilli infused vodka into a small glass, drop it into a larger one and top it up with a speed drink. Skulled – not sipped – this drink is for those either brave or foolish enough to go for a fast buzz.
Jody Hanson lived and drank in Buenos Aires for a year, so she is highly qualified to write about the best imbibing spots in town. The variety of bars in San Telmo alone could keep a dedicated drinker going for years without revisits. She penned this article for Tucan Travel who offer all types of adventure travel in Argentina and elsewhere in South America.