As the sun finishes up its rotation and headlights begin casting shadows around corners, Bar +84 is preparing for another night of pouring beers, mixing cocktails and bringing out the wine coolers.
The space itself is a dimly lit townhouse from the French colonial era, converted with an extended conservatory area serving as the entrance. Posters of Hollywood classic The Godfather hang around the walls and lamps shaped like 9mm pistols sit on the bar.
Tables are cosily arranged in front of a small stage scattered with musical instruments.
Come September a private area will be opened on the second floor to cater for customers who would prefer a quieter atmosphere than the energy downstairs. The private room will be available for bookings.
Owner Giang Trang says: “We want to make this a place where people come and feel like they’re visiting a friend’s house,” and after taking up a chair and scanning your surroundings it’s pretty evident that on an average night the crowd in Bar +84 is far from pretentious.
This is the sort of bar you can visit whether you’re in professional dress or shorts and a t-shirt. All walks of life come together when one of the resident bands begins playing.
Live music six nights a week has put Bar +84 on the map for musicians and artists who want to come and enjoy a laid-back atmosphere while catching talent from local Hanoi bands and musicians from the expat community.
Throughout the week you can catch jazz, acoustic and rock ‘n’ roll, all of which hovers within 1950s, 1960s and 1970s influences.
Trang says: “Sometimes bands come from abroad to perform in Hanoi and afterwards they come here to play an acoustic set, we’ve had musicians from Japan, Germany — sometimes I even sing a song on stage.”
If live music doesn’t appeal to you then you can come down on Mondays Ladies’ Night, when the stage is left to gather some much needed dust. All ladies get a free glass of wine and groups of four plus get a free bottle from 7pm to 9.30pm.
A bar is nothing without a good selection of drinks to choose from, and here you’ll find possibly the biggest selection of whiskies anywhere in town. From Singleton to Suntory and everything in between, the top shelf is stacked with bottles of the brown stuff.
There’s also a good stock of gin and a Latin favourite, Patron Tequila (VND225,000) — a rare sight around Hanoi. A Tiger Beer on draft costs VND40,000.
Michael, the resident bartender hailing from the Czech Republic, specialises in using his know-how to put together just about any classic cocktail, or one of Bar +84’s own alcoholic inventions.
If you’re feeling adventurous order the +84 Special, for VND170,000. He’ll put together anything you give him a recipe for, and if you have no recipe then he’ll just put together whatever he feels will get the job done.
Food is also served until late. The menu has a good balance of meals like steak and chips with peppercorn gravy and bar snacks to keep your energy up through the night, all at reasonable prices.
Bar +84 is a laid back bar with a friendly vibe and very knowledgeable staff. Surprise yourself by making a blind appearance one evening — you never know what musicians you’ll find.
Alternatively you can just check their Facebook page for regular updates on fixtures and offers.
Bar +84 is located at 23 Ngo Van So, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi
Photos by Boris Lopatin // Word Vietnam