Tay Ho Tiki Company

Think Hawaii, and then think Hanoi… sort of somewhere in the middle of that.

 

Tay Ho Tiki Company is the latest addition to Hanoi’s fast expanding cocktail of craft watering holes.

 

Since September they’ve been operating on Au Co, close to the flower market, and they’ve been gathering crowds looking for their signature tiki-inspired cocktails.

 

Barman and co-owner Carl Hamilton has 10 years’ experience mixing cocktails across Australia and in Toronto, and his craftsmanship is evident in the drinks he puts on the table.

 

The bar draws its inspiration from the tiki fad that began in California after the Second World War. Two bartenders who’d been stationed in Polynesia during wartime had come home to a bleak and anxious urban sprawl. They created the alter egos Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic, opening bars with their own take on Polynesian style, and mixing fruity and exotic cocktails. The tiki fascination swept through America during the 1950s and 1960s, where people would flock in droves after work seeking an escape from the monotony of their daily routines.

 

This unassuming little venue, with its thatched roof, ocean-blue wall hangings and Pacific-looking water feature is now carrying the torch in Hanoi for this reviving trend. Their menu is a mix of rum infused tiki classics like mai tai and the zombie, and a collection of their own cocktails that use local fruits, home-made syrups, and even Vietnamese coffee beans, giving the drinks a whole new edge that pineapples alone couldn’t provide.

Mai Kind of Drink

 

The menu is divided into three main sections: Tay Ho Tiki Originals, Classics and Tiki Classics.

 

The foundation of the menu are the tiki classics. The most famous tiki cocktail, the rum-infused mai tai is VND120,000, and the very first tiki cocktail, the zombie — described by its inventor as “a mender of broken dreams” — costs VND200,000. Also present is the ginger beer-based Dark ‘n’ Stormy for VND80,000, while the pina colada and the excellent winter warmer, hot buttered rum, cost VND140,000.

 

The Tay Ho Tiki Originals are where barman Carl’s passion for the tiki cocktail shines through. With a choice of seven drinks to choose from, it’s difficult to know where to start. A quick read through the ingredients in each concoction will leave you questioning your understanding of the English language, but a glance at the other tables’ drinks will give you enough confidence to pick one and wait for the best to come. A great showpiece here is The East Sea. Premium rum mixed with homemade allspice liquor, homemade passion fruit syrup, orgeat syrup and lime — VND120,000.

 

The Classics menu includes all the standards like the Old Fashioned, martini, mojito and some less common sights like the Last Word, a mix of Bombay Sapphire, cherry liquor and green chartreuse, with lime. All the drinks on here cost between VND80,000 and VND200,000.

 

Also worth a try is their homemade ginger beer — available in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, for VND60,000 per 500ml bottle.

Guest Chefs

 

On top of having a small but permanent food menu including both vegetarian and carnie Jamaican patties for VND30,000 and VND40,000, and hot dogs for VND80,000, Tay Ho Tiki Company has also been supporting local chefs who don’t have a platform for their cooking.

 

Every month they have a guest chef to run a pop-up kitchen, ensuring that vegetarian options are given equal consideration in the process. Previous chefs have included chef Shay from Middle Eastern restaurant Daluva, who cooked up laksa — Indonesian curry noodles; Pham Nhu Long from Hanoi who graced guests with a pho burger; and Erin Ellis from Kentucky, who put together southern-style pulled pork sandwiches and cubanos.

 

Tay Ho Tiki Company is the premier spot in Hanoi right now for speciality cocktails; space is limited and most accommodating to small groups or a romantic date.

Tay Ho Tiki Company is at 228a Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi. Opening hours are 5pm to 11.30pm

Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel // Word Vietnam 

HeyDay Beer Club – Ha Dong

If you fancy going for a beer and a game of billiards, on the far side of town, then head on down to Heyday Beer Club.

 

Located deep in Ha Dong, Hanoi’s most populous suburb, Heyday is as much a premium watering hole as it is a symbol of the district’s development.

 

Vinh, the establishment’s owner, started out opening the bia hoi restaurant across the road, and two years ago he decided to reach for something bigger. The four-storey beer club is kitted out with games, TVs and lounges and is one of the most contemporary bars in the area.

 

Sitting on a corner overlooking modern houses that sport solar panels and big garages, from outside the building looks quirky. It’s difficult to miss the all-seeing illuminated pint glass and block capital lettering advertising the beer club when you turn on to Nguyen Van Loc.

 

Inside, the walls are busy with abstract pictures, neon Budweiser signs and bottle caps moulded into wooden walls. It also sports two large TVs showing the latest football matches. If the first floor is too busy, which on a weekend it will be, then you can head to the second floor that follows the same design.

 

The bar only serves beer; Vinh makes sure that if any new premium quality beer becomes available in-country his bar will stock it.

Pub Games

 

In holding with a classic pub atmosphere, all the best social games can be found here. Downstairs, a dart board and a foosball table are surrounded by eager punters, ready to wager on — or against — their drinking companions.

 

A short elevator ride to the third floor takes you to a VIP lounge area with a good-quality pool table, speakers that connect to your iPhone and a balcony area. While you’re busy testing your skills on the table, staff are ready to bring an icebox full of beer from the bar, or some bar snacks. You can ask at the bar for details on hiring out this room.

 

The lounge on the third floor is designed with dim lighting, sofas are dotted around the room and the red brick walls are interrupted by shelves littered with bottles of wine.

 

After a splash of Dutch courage, you can make your way to the fourth floor to exercise your lungs with karaoke.

International Beer

 

The selection of beers available is impressive — there are brands from Belgium, Germany, Japan and elsewhere. A Tiger or Saigon beer costs VND25,000, while a Corona Extra is VND70,000. If you’re feeling more adventurous, German beer Stammgast will set you back VND115,000, Belgian dark beer Chimay VND145,000 and red ale Rodenbach Grand Cru VND350,000.

 

If you come in a group, then you can take advantage of the bulk options; three litres of Tiger beer cost VND250,000, while the same measure of Heineken costs VND350,000.

 

As if the beer and games weren’t enough for you, Heyday does top-quality food as well, including pizzas, spaghetti and Vietnamese dishes.

 

A large ‘special pizza’ costs VND135,000 and comes with a full array of toppings. A plate of spaghetti Bolognaise is VND85,000 and a range of Vietnamese-style chicken, beef and duck dishes priced between VND100,000 and VND300,000. The food is all cooked to the standard that you would expect from an established restaurant.

 

Rose in a Thorn Bush

 

Ha Dong isn’t known as being a hip spot on the weekend calendar, but as the area continues to develop, its nightlife is becoming more inviting.

 

Heyday is a glimpse of what the future holds.

 

Heyday is at LK3C1 Nguyen Van Loc, Ha Dong, Hanoi, just off Tran Phu. It’s open 9am to 11pm and until midnight on weekends

 


Photos by Theo Lowenstein // Word Vietnam 

Bar [+84] – Hoan Kiem

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.

Photo by Boris Lopatin

Photo by Boris Lopatin

Live Music

 

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

Photo by Boris Lopatin

Photo by Boris Lopatin

 

Photos by Boris Lopatin // Word Vietnam 

Nameless – Tay Ho

Nestled between aluminium walls and busy advertisements on the corner of Au Co and Xuan Dieu is a bar that has no name.

 

Nameless opened a year ago, and since then it’s gained a small but loyal following of regulars. It sits on top of Der Imbiss, a German-style street food restaurant.

 

The red walls are scattered with empty bottles and model planes, wine glasses hang from the ceiling and pictures of Bob Dylan and other figures from that era hang from rusty nails. The dim lighting resonates around the room creating a warm glow while through big windows you can gaze at the world’s characters scurrying along Au Co to some unknown story. Giang, the owner and bartender works around the clock to keep her customers in high spirits.

 

On a quiet night, pull up a stool at the bar and you can count on the next person that orders a drink to strike up a conversation, there’s a social feel here that makes you want to get involved. Once the clock has struck midnight you might have made some new friends, played a game of darts and at least one person in Hanoi has woken up with a model plane in their jacket pocket (an artefact that Giang would like to see again, if you have it, reader).

 

On a weekend you can expect it to get a little claustrophobic. It’s a compact place, and if you don’t turn up until 11pm on a Friday, you’ll be standing.

Selection

 

You can’t get draught beer here as there isn’t enough space to install pumps, so bottles will have to do. Apart from Bia Hanoi, Bia Saigon and Tiger at VND30,000 for a 330ml bottle, the bar’s real muse is Na Da beer — a locally brewed, German-inspired beer that comes in a metal canister-style bottle that looks like it should be loaded into a howitzer. It’s VND50,000 for a glass, or VND100,000 for a two-litre bottle.

 

They also sell Portishead Cider, a new and locally brewed cider courtesy of the owners of Home38 restaurant, for VND55,000 a bottle.

 

All spirits with a mixer are VND50,000 and cocktails range from VND70,000 to VND100,000.

Character

 

Now that winter has come, you want somewhere that’s cosy and welcoming, with a laid-back atmosphere, good company and good drinks — and just a stone’s throw from authentic German sausages.

 

This bar has something that others in town don’t have, it’s not that you can’t find a certain localism elsewhere, but the way that customers are treated in Nameless makes it feel like you’re more than just a profit-making punter. The service delves into the best of bartending — it’s more than just someone making a drink, you’re made to feel at home.

 

Nameless Bar is at 53 Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi



Photos by Theo Lowenstein // Word Vietnam 

Tadioto – Hoan Kiem

The best bars in any town are defined by character. Tadioto has character to get your creative cogs turning. Situated just east of Hoan Kiem Lake, it’s the perfect setting for a small group to share ideas or to catch up with old friends over a glass of whisky. Just look out for the large red gates on the corner of Tong Dan and Ly Dao Thanh.

 

Owner Nguyen Qui Duc, former journalist and a creative survivor of Hanoi’s bar scene, has modelled a unique and original atmosphere characterised by a dim, metallic décor balanced with edgy lighting — the lamps around Tadioto’s tables were hand-crafted by Duc himself using recycled motorbike parts and other treasures.

 

Ramping it Up

 

Tadioto’s character isn’t just built by the décor; the people that keep the seats warm come in many guises from artists and journalists to architects and diplomats. They’re a different clientele. “We’re not a rowdy bar — people come to exchange ideas. People sit and talk a lot here,” says Duc.

 

Something for creative lovers to mark on their map, weekly live jazz has recently become a fixture, and if this plus the venue’s artistic design wasn’t enough, they’ll soon be running Sunday discussion groups on topics such as art, music and literature, and airing the occasional film screening.

 

Tadioto isn’t so much concerned with complicated cocktails and fancy delicacies. The daytime food menu is refreshingly simple while the bar is stocked with a diverse selection of the usual suspects alongside an impressive collection of single malts and a growing presence of bourbon. That said, it’s not to be taken as a whisky bar.

 

A bottled beer will set you back VND40,000 while a draught costs VND50,000. If you’re looking to experiment with the whisky collection then a glass of blended Scotch, neat, is a reasonable VND100,000 or if you prefer a single malt, a glass of a well known 10-year-old comes in at VND150,000. There are also some lesser-seen brands that include Japanese whisky, with shots starting at VND130,000.

 

Vodkas, gins and rum range in the same area of price depending on quality, and if you’re more prone to a glass of wine, a bottle of mid-range red or white averages around VND450,000.

 

What makes Tadioto stand out is the type of people who frequent it. It’s certainly a place to go if you’re looking to meet interesting people from backgrounds too diverse to list here — as Duc says: “Any one night it’s just what table you sit at”.

 

Tadioto is located at 24B Tong Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi and stays open until late

Photo by Fuji Pham

Photo by Fuji Pham

Furbrew – Tay Ho

When safe drinking water is nowhere to be found, you could always head on down to Furbrew for some hop-infused refreshment.

 

The craft beer industry has been booming in Europe and North America for close to a decade now. From old-timers to young beer lovers looking for something more than the established names can offer, the customers keep coming and the breweries keep opening. Now Vietnam is getting in on the action.

 

Craft beer is still a new industry in Vietnam. The first brewery began production in Ho Chi Minh City two years ago and the southern city now has seven micro-breweries, each creating its own style of beer. The largest of them, Pasteur Street Brewery, exports to several countries in the region.

Hanoi has some catching up to do. Furbrew has seen the opportunity, and is aiming high.

 

Crafting the Culture

 

Since opening in early July, they’ve already made their mark on Hanoi’s emerging craft beer scene. From their modest brewery in Tay Ho, they’ve put together an ever-expanding selection of beers ranging from the classic and easily accessible Chinook IP (VND90,000 per 375ml glass) to more acquired tastes like their dry, malty hopped to the extreme Early Bird brown ale (VND90,000) — originally inspired by Brew Dog’s 5AM — and their notorious pho beer. Yes, a beer that tastes like pho bo.

 

Man behind the scenes Thomas Bilgram is confident that Vietnam’s craft beer industry is about to take off big-time.

 

“We’re competing with two other craft breweries in northern Vietnam, but there’s room for at least five more,” says Thomas, a seasoned veteran of beer making.

 

“We help each other out; craft brewers are more family than they are competitors. I still plan on making Vietnam’s best beer, though”.

 

And they’re on their way. Their Bee Prepared (VND110,000) honey ale is an intensely refreshing brew, addictive for those with a sweet tooth and their light and creamy Beach Beer (VND80,000 / 375ml glass) is ideal while evening temperatures are still high.

 

“We change the beers on tap with the seasons,” says Thomas. “In the summer you want a light and refreshing beer, and in the winter you want something warmer and heavier.”

 

They have food delivery available from four nearby restaurants as well, a service that shows how the different businesses in the area are willing to help each other out.

Open Air Beer Garden

 

The bar — located in the heart of Tay Ho — is a modest, comfortable area with black and white floor-tiling and wooden benches. Outside is a small seating area, and, in total, the bar can accommodate around 50 people.

 

While Thomas and I talk, midweek commuters fill the benches outside, loosening their top buttons and sipping on tankards.

 

In September Furbrew expanded their reach — and seating capacity — by opening a large open-air beer garden behind the flower market off of Au Co. The site is the same premises that they brew the beer on, giving you a reminder of how local this brew is.

 

The garden — called the 100 Garden — can seat 170 people in lines of wooden benches, in a clean and well-designed open space surrounded by palm trees.

 

They’ll be hosting the 50th anniversary of the Hash House Harriers running club there next month. The “drinkers with a running problem” will have their party accompanied by a spit roast and as much of Furbrew’s beer as they can handle (which will be a fair amount).

 

Local and Genuine

 

There’s nothing like a tasty beer with close friends, especially after a long day.

 

What Furbrew has to offer is good craft beer in a relaxed and friendly environment.

 

Furbrew is located at 8B/52 To Ngoc Van. The 100 Beer Garden is located behind the flower market off of Au Co


 

Photos by Theo Lowenstein // Word Vietnam

Bia-Khu 9 – Hai Ba Trung

At the foot of Hanoi Creative City, Bia-Khu 9 is a ramped up, bia hoi style restaurant and bar, with a huge Vietnamese food menu, and lots of beer.

 

The bar sits comfortably next to the skate park in this massive space — Hanoi’s premier spot for youth culture and entertainment. To begin with, they only serve beer, so if you’re looking for a cocktail menu, go elsewhere; they have a bottle of vodka in the fridge, but that’s about it.

Beer, Glorious Beer

 

The beer is certainly a hallmark feature of the décor too — entire walls seem to be built entirely of empty beer bottles, and the bar is definitely not running low on the stuff. A glass of bia hoi costs VND10,000, but the atmosphere here is more upmarket than your average blue plastic chair watering hole.

 

The space is made up of a main bar area downstairs, with slate floors, wooden tables and chairs, bare red brick walls, and a giant propaganda-esque mural of a soldier and a farmer sporting outstretched arms, imploring a busy barman to refill their pints. There’s also a TV for screening football, and an outside seating area and upstairs is an open-top area full of seating, begging for a sunny day.

 

There’s a good selection of bottled beers to choose from including Heineken, Tiger Crystal, Truc Bach and Hanoi; the prices average around VND30,000.

Godzilla’s own Menu

 

The menu is too big — totally overwhelming. There are hundreds of food options to choose from. All of the food is Vietnamese, and the prices range between VND50,000 and VND100,000 per dish. The quality is good, and the portions are generous. Think meat, rice, fried noodles, seafood, soups, salads and just about anything else you’re liable to find in Vietnam.

 

While relatively quiet on weeknights, Friday brings the crowd, and also the live music, with bands playing anything from rock and blues to Vietnamese classics.

 

This is certainly a place to come with a group of friends, the long wooden tables want you to fill them with food to share around, the atmosphere demands that you leave your hassle at the door, and the staff come across as the kind of people you know you can crack a joke with.

 

The bar is close to Rec Room, and of course, the many events put on at Hanoi Creative City are on its doorstep. If you’ve never been before, then come on a Friday night, when the place really gets interesting, or on an afternoon when the sun’s out.

 

Bia-Khu9 is located at Hanoi Creative City, 1 Luong Yen, Hai Ba Trung, Hanoi


Photos by Teigue John Blokpoel // Word Vietnam 

Den Bar – Hoan Kiem

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.

Character

 

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