Sandalwood flooring, leather armchairs, and black walls sporting a library of wine bottles; Den Bar is an old-school alternative to Hoan Kiem’s generally characterless selection of watering holes.
Tucked away on Nguyen Thai Bich, a stone’s throw from the original Tranquil Café and secluded from the bustle of the city centre, you’d likely miss it if you weren’t looking for it — it is, after all, in a basement. In the basement of the La Siesta Trendy Hotel, no less.
The dim lighting and classic furnishing give a real sense of privacy to the place, and also a subtle impression that all the other tables are plotting mob hits. Combine a glass of Scotch with some low-level conversation and you’ll fit right in.
Originally reserved for in-house guests only, the management quickly recognised the potential of the place and they’ve since opened its doors to the general public. That being said, they haven’t yet pushed on to marketing this, so if you turn up on a weekday evening, you’ll find yourself greeted with a seat, and possibly a sofa.
Given the cigar bar appearance of the Den, it comes as no surprise that it has an impressive whisky collection behind the bar.
A glass of 12-year-old Singleton costs VND135,000 while a 16-year-old Lagavulin Valley costs VND230,000. Alongside the single malts is a comprehensive collection of blends, with a glass of Black Label costing VND85,000 and 18-year-old Chivas coming in at VND145,000.
Complementing the spirits range is a comfortable wine selection; a glass of Leon Tarapaca Chardonnay costs VND140,000, as does the Cabernet Sauvignon. The Cotes Du Rhone Saint Esprit, red or white, is VND170,000 for a glass.
Also present is a cocktail list featuring the classics for VND155,000, and a collection of signature mixes, including their trademark La Siesta Trendy (whisky, tamarind, apple, cinnamon and ginger, VND185,000), and the Sapa Cocktail (Zacapa 23, sugar cane, kumquat and syrup, VND300,000).
There’s no food on the menu, but orders can be placed to the Red Bean Restaurant upstairs that serves some of Hanoi’s most highly acclaimed Vietnamese cuisine.
For the People
Now that the doors are open to the public, Den Bar management have begun embarking on a series of reforms to the regular schedule, including the addition of regular live jazz performances, set to start this month, and a happy hour during the evenings to fit in with the after work social.
In all, Den Bar is a breath of fresh air for Hanoi’s bar scene. Here is a place that you can visit in a small group, in an out-of-the-way, comfortable, and most of all, classy setting, with the service of an upscale hotel.
Den Bar is at 12 Nguyen Quang Bich, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi, in the basement of La Siesta Trendy Hotel
Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel // Word Magazine