Anyone fancy a drink? The January blues are sinking in as we all return to our everyday lives after that month or so of tinsel, sparkle and accepting every invitation to eat and drink with a cheerful of cry of, ‘Well, it is Christmas!’ I predict some of us have either stopped drinking, embracing the detox world of the non-alcoholic tipple or are drinking even more to brighten up this bleakest of months, firmly refusing to accept the holiday season is well and truly behind us.
If this sounds like you then I also predict your old watering holes are looking a little bit 2012 and you might be looking to shake and stir things up with an interesting new drinking destination. Well look no further. Whether you’re more of a Shirley Temple or a Bloody Mary, check out my pick of weird and wonderful bars of the world. This one’s on me.
#1 Floyd’s Pelican Bar, Jamaica
To counteract these chilly, winter months, let’s start with this little piece of paradise. Built on a sandbank a quarter mile out to sea, the concept for this bar on stilts came to local fisherman, Floyd in a dream one night. Luckily, Floyd turned out to be one who follows his dreams as lo and behold, he made it come to pass. Fishermen will ferry you over from Treasure Beach, Negril to this rustic, thatched roof beauty. Look out for dolphins, drink, eat fresh fish and enjoy a lost afternoon at sea.
#2 Clinic, Singapore
Is there a doctor in the house? There might well be but as the house in question is actually Clinic, Singapore’s hospital themed bar, you might find them a little too tipsy to attend to your medical needs.
At Clinic, customers find themselves transformed into patients,waited on by staff dressed in scrubs and making themselves comfortable on wheelchairs and hospital gurneys. As well as the usual beverages, they serve up some lurid coloured concoctions in a drip with medical tubes leading down to quench your thirst. Or, if you’re more of a shock treatment fan, choose the shots loaded into syringes, plunger ready to dispense.
Located in Clarke’s Quay, the young, hip and trendy frequent this joint as well as tourists making an emergency stop for a few comedy, deathbed scenario pictures.
#3 Red Sea Star Bar, Israel
Submerged 6 feet below the surface, life is the bubbles at the Red Sea Star Bar, the world’s first underwater drinking establishment. A cozy observatory ambience envelops you as you watch the sea-life in the surrounding, underwater, coral garden through huge, plate glass windows. Take a seat on one of the jelly-fish shaped stools and pretend to be Ariel from the little mermaid (though combing your hair with a fork for jokes is probably frowned upon) and float away on the serenity of underwater life.
#4 Hobbit House, Philippines
As Tolkienn’s epic story hits the cinemas, this seemed a topical addition to the list. Hobbit House in Manila, Philippines, is a bar staffed by friendly and charming little people with live music and a candle-lit, hobbit hole interior decorated with paintings of scenes and characters from Lord of the Rings. Walk through the huge, circular door into Middle Earth (unless you show up too drunk to enter in which case you might encounter a feisty old guy yelling, “You shall not pass!”). Strictly no orcs allowed.
#5 Skeleton Bar, Switzerland
This unique bar in Gruyere, Switzerland (yes, there is more there than just cheese) was designed by Hans Rudi Giger, (who worked on the Alien movies) and boy, can you tell. Lined with the bones of what I can only imagine to be previous punters, this macabre city of the dead’s fantastic decor will make you question whether you’ve popped out for a pint or are trapped in an art installation. Good luck trying to find the hidden toilet. Perhaps all those punters died of urinary tract infections.
#6 The Big Baobab, South Africa
Ok, so it’s a tree. A pretty cool looking, monster tree to be fair but wait a minute… what’s this? A door in the trunk, you say? The Big Baobab in Modjadjiskloof (try saying that after a few) in Limpopo Province, South Africa, is famous for being the largest baobab in the world and has been carbon dated to be around 6000 years old. Baobab trunks tend to hollow out around their 1000th birthday and in this case, the locals decided it would be the perfect place for a hidden bar. The Baobab is a sacred tree in African culture and apparently anyone who dares to pick a baobab flower will be eaten by a lion. So, hands off!
#7 Vampire Cafe, Japan
To be honest, Tokyo could have constituted this entire post itself with its delightful collection of bonkers bars such as their Alcatraz bar and office themed restaurant. But when I stumbled across this bad boy, I just had to throw it in. Located in the famous Ginza region, this 7th floor, gothic bar/restaurant will see you greeted by waitresses in French maid outfits or waiters sporting tuxedos (vamps have a very specific kind of style). The decor consists of red velvet, skulls, crucifixes, candelabras and Dracula’s coffin where he presumably takes an after dinner nap before retreating to the study for a cherry brandy. Thick, beaded drapes encase the booths so you can feed in privacy and although blood may be off the menu, all dishes are presented in a suitably sinister style with tombstone shaped chips and crosses of spattered ketchup.
#8 Ice Bar, Sweden
Channel your inner ice queen at the original ice bar in the village of Jukkasjärvi, 200 km north of the arctic circle. Everything here is truly made from pure, clear ice from the Torne river, the temperature kept at a constant -5 degrees centigrade all year round. A strong contender for world’s coolest bar, you even get given a warm, hooded cape and chunky gloves to help make your experience a pleasant one. There’s a 40 minute limit stay in most ice bars to prevent customers turning blue and limbs breaking off but here you can stay as long as you like. Perfect place to break the ice and melt some hearts. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
Alex Saint is a writer based in Bristol, England – a place she calls home due to its friendly, diverse atmosphere and never-ending list of fun things to do. She loves tattoos, quirky fashion, pugs and, of course, travelling.