Hugos at Park Café's beer garden in Munich

Drink: Munich

Living in Munich means that I can’t really recommend a place to Sleep. So, as a trade off, for the Munich City Guide I thought I would offer my insights into the best places to drink – fair? The German state of Bavaria, of which Munich is a part, is famed for its beer. That will undoubtedly come as no surprise, because the one thing most visitors know about Munich is: that it’s home to Oktoberfest, the world’s largest beer festival. But, dare I say that there’s more to Munich’s drink and nightlife scene than beer alone (yes, yes I did just write that). Going out for drinks solo can be a daunting prospect as a lone female traveller, but the safe city of Munich is certainly one of the best places to do so. Let me help you to discover the best of what Munich’s beverage scene has to offer, including beer and beyond, with my Top 5 places to drink:

1. PARK CAFÉ

Formerly one of the places where the Nazis came to dance, Park Café long ago shook off this darker side of its history. Now it’s an integral part of Munich’s modern drinks scene – and with a recent facelift, it’s looking better than ever. Park Café is one of those elusive hybrids: by day it functions as a relaxed place to grab a drink or lunch and pour over a good book, by night it’s a buzzing bar-cum-club with a DJ and a progressively busy dance floor. It’s the perfect place to while away some enjoyable hours when visiting Munich solo –people watching the varied crowds which frequent this locale will immediately make you feel decidedly more local. In summer, the locals flock here to sip on Aperol Spritz and Hugos and hang out in its restaurant and beer garden out back, which sits on the edge of the city’s old botanical gardens. In winter, stop by for a warming comfort food and leather sofas to sink down into, as you enjoy devouring the former.

2. ZEPHYR BAR

Cocktails at Zephyr bar in Munich

Can good cocktails be found in Munich, arguably the city of beer? What a question! Well yes, ok, to those who don’t know where to go the likelihood of ordering a cocktail and getting a “Sex on the Beach” which is mostly tropical juice, is quite high. But, beyond the touristic, ‘international’ cocktail joints, is somewhat of an underground scene of skilled mixologists just waiting for you to try their latest invention. For the best in town, look no further than Zephyr bar with its fresh ingredients and inventive concoctions. Located in the hip ‘Glockenbackviertel’ this effortlessly cool, stripped back bar is where Munich’s true cool crowd – not the try hard types – come to hang out. You may be forgiven for simply strolling past its low-key frontage, but that’s undoubtedly the way Zephyr wants it to be because then only those with a keen eye for good cocktail bars stop to try a taste. An ever-changing menu keeps the cocktails fresh, exciting and even somewhat quirky  –drinks served in Noodle Boxes or with a pipette of a spicy solution to turn up the heat, are just a couple of examples of Zephyr’s endeavours to do things differently . But if you really want to be surprised, the talented bartenders will whip you up your own personal delight if asked, for the same price as one of the pre-conceived cocktails on the menu card. Once I even took my request a step further and asked if they could light something on fire to make my cocktail (Note: it was my birthday, and I was a few drinks down). The result, though, was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had – the Zephyr team set a piece of lavender alight, infusing my drink with a heady, flowery edge. Zephyr fills up fast, so it’s advisable to get there when they open if you want to get a seat. It’s the perfect bar for solos: get there early and the friendly bartenders will undoubtedly prove good company, or arrive later and the bar will already be so busy that it’s possible to simply slot stealthily into the crowd and begin to mingle right from the off.

3. HOFBRÄUHAUS

munich-drink-hofbraeuhaus

No visit to Munich is complete without paying a visit to the famed Hofbräuhaus or, for that matter, trying to pronounce it as you desperately ask passing Müncheners for directions to this somewhat hidden watering hole. Hofbräuhaus is Munich’s most famous beer hall and was originally built way back in 1589 by a Bavarian Duke (yes, the royals enjoyed a good tipple, too). Mozart, a regular, even included a mention of Hofbräuhaus in a poem he wrote  – so if that doesn’t convince you that beers served here are worth supping on, I don’t know what will. Foreigners used to big brand beers will be pleasantly surprised to find that the beer served in Munich beer halls comes directly from the local breweries – which in the case of Hofbräuhaus, is the Hofbräu brewery (clue’s in the name). Upon entering, be ready to be met with the hustle and bustle of merriment as people chinking their beer glasses together shout “Prost!” over the live band dressed in Lederhosen playing the Bavarian version of honkey-tonk music. Coming here alone isn’t a problem – the long shared tables and benches encourage people to mix and mingle with each other. Do locals frequent here? Well yes, some still do – they even have a regular table called a Stammtisch where they can sidle up next to old friends and drink beer from their own personal stein. In general though, this is a touristic place – but nevertheless one which should still be experienced. My tip: forget the food and go and eat in a calmer Wirtshaus – Hofbräuhaus is the place to grab a beer, have a sing a long and make some new friends.

Hofbraeuhaus band playing

4. ANNA HOTEL

Normally when travelling, the idea is to get as far away from your hotel – and hotels in general – as possible. However, when visiting Munich and in search of a good, strong Margarita in stylish surroundings, it’s exactly to a hotel that you should be heading: Anna Hotel. Situated slap bang in the centre of the city at Karlsplatz, a hop, skip and a jump away from some of Munich’s trendiest  clubs, boutique Anna Hotel bucks the usual hotel bar trend of Lost In Translation-style lonely, soulless surroundings. Instead, here you’ll find a buzzing bar with a crowd formed from an eclectic mix of internationals staying at the hotel and locals looking for a cocktail fix. Its central location and clientele make it the perfect place for a solo to stop off for a drink without feeling like the lonely woman at the bar. Stop by in the early evening after a hard day’s sightseeing, pull up a pew and order a Margarita and some of ‘anna’s fries’ – you won’t regret it.

5. GOLDENE BAR

The terrace at Goldene Bar

Get your dose of art and spirits in one go at the famous Goldene Bar. Part of Munich’s Haus der Kunst, Goldene Bar sits on the edge of Englischer Garten and has an expansive terrace – making it the perfect place for a sundowner in summer. Despite being the regular watering hole of Munich’s trendy media set – GQ parties are often held here – Goldene Bar has still retained a sense of ‘real’ and hasn’t fallen victim to the snooty arrogance of some popular Munich bars. This is perhaps thanks to the new management which took over in 2010 and successfully transformed the bar to also function as a popular ‘café’ in daytime with an ever-changing (and tasty) menu, bbq nights, table football and ping pong. If Goldene Bar were to be a little arrogant though, then in some ways it would be justified – how many bars can boast of artwork adorning the walls that has been there since 1937? This is what makes Goldene Bar truly unique: a golden mural map which depicts the origins of the drinks the bar serves.

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