The 14 Best Drinking Spots In The World In 2023

Food and drink tourism is one of the most fulfilling — and entertaining — ways to experience the culture and customs of other countries. And, trends suggest that more and more tourists are traveling internationally just to get a taste of the local alcohol. Pre-Covid, Scotland experienced a boom in whisky distillery visitors (via The Scotsman), and an influx of Chinese tourists traveled to Australia's wineries during the same time period, as per The Drinks Business. Plus, Skift reports that the millions of food and drink-related posts that are being shared daily on social media are greatly influencing where people are traveling to. 

With all sorts of differing opinions on the best beverage-related global travel out there, we thought we'd share our own list of favorite drinking locations for the upcoming year. Hopefully, it inspires you to take a few indulgent trips of your own! Although the quality and prevalence of bars were our major criteria when choosing cities, we also endeavored to remember that there is so much more to a city's drinking culture than what initially meets the eye.

1. Oaxaca, Mexico

Any number of Mexican cities could have made this list, from the boisterous party culture of Guadalajara to the michelada-fueled bustle of Mexico City (via However, we settled on the city of Oaxaca primarily due to one fact alone: Oaxaca is the home of mezcal.

As The New Yorker reports, Oaxaca has long been seen as the historic hub of mezcal. As such, the city has always attracted those with an affinity for the spirit. One such person is Gary Wallach, a food and beverage director, who explained to VinePair how he would go about a drinking holiday in the city: "Oaxaca has been on my list for years. Agave has become bigger than ever, and we tend to forget how small families have survived producing agave spirits such as mezcal, not only for sale, but as a part of their lifestyle. I would probably start at the center of the city exploring markets to find some good advice on where to go. There is nothing like meeting small producers to show you what it's truly like to portray the land around you."

If mezcal is your thing then Oaxaca simply has to be your destination of choice, as opportunities to visit growers and distillers will only increase your appreciation for this spirit — especially when you see firsthand the incredibly laborious techniques required to make it (per Discover Silversea). To put it simply, after visiting Oaxaca, you'll never look at the spirit the same way again.

2. Tokyo, Japan

As the most populated city in the world (via USA Today), Japan's capital, Tokyo, can feel overwhelming. Fortunately, the city has an incredible number of diverse drinking dens which offer some respite from the city's crowds. A happy by-product of this demand for drinking dens is that it makes Tokyo one of the best travel destinations for those looking to experience a wide range of drinking practices.

Perhaps the most unique among these are izakaya bars which, according to Japan-Guide, are relaxed restaurants where small plates are accompanied by alcohol, most notably sake. These are a must-visit for anyone keen to understand the day-to-day drinking culture of Japan, while also tasting some of the country's best-known dishes.

For those looking for a more highbrow experience, Tokyo also delivers through several highly-lauded cocktail bars, many of which are routinely included in Asia's 50 Best Bars, as per TimeOut. Chief among these is Benfiddich, a cocktail bar that uses botanicals and other ingredients grown on its own plot of land (via The World's 50 Best Bars).

Finally, even abstainers can enjoy Tokyo as Japan's rich tea-drinking culture offers many unique, alcohol-free, experiences. Condé Nast Traveler highlights that tea-drinking ceremonies provide an oasis of calm while also exposing you to a version of the drink that is immeasurably superior to your regular brew. 

3. Edinburgh, Scotland

Maybe it's something to do with the rainy weather, but Edinburgh has an abundance of establishments where you can quickly duck inside and enjoy a drink. Of course, these include some of the country's best whisky bars, including Usquabae Whisky Bar & Larder which is home to over 400 different bottles. What's more, Edinburgh has an abundance of local beers to try, thanks to a variety of breweries based in the city such as Innis & Gunn, Moonwake Beer Co., and Barney's Beer.

For the ultimate drinking experience, visit Edinburgh during the annual Hogmanay celebration, a riotous occasion that sees just about every pub, bar, and club packed to capacity. There is even a street party to go with it (via Visit Scotland). To kick matters off on this famous night, we recommend visiting some of Edinburgh's top cocktail bars. These include the world-class — and well-hidden — Bramble Bar and Lounge (per The Scotsman), as well as Hey Palu, an Italian-inspired cocktail bar that has a small but excellent array of food (via Olive Magazine).

4. Porto, Portugal

One of life's great joys is visiting new places and experiencing the local specialties that make up an area's culture. When visiting Porto, this joy is exacerbated by the fact that the local specialty is a fortified wine, suitable for just about every occasion. As Wine Folly reports, port wine can be broken down into four categories: White, rosé, tawny, and ruby. Each of these demonstrates different tasting notes, yet the underlying experience is a sweet and fruit-forward one.

There are numerous places to enjoy this iconic drink across Porto's beautiful urban landscape. The New York Times recommends enjoying samples from bottle shops such as Touriga Vinhos de Portugal. However, interesting experiences can also be had in the many port producer's warehouses that line the south side of the river, such as Graham's.

So jam-packed is the small city with food and drink offerings that there are numerous tours available, as per Great British Chefs. The more adventurous can even travel to the nearby Douro Valley to see how port is produced and to experience some tastings amidst the vineyards themselves (via The Guardian).

5. New York City, United States

It should surprise no one that the city that never sleeps has an incredible array of bars, clubs, and pubs where one can while away the hours until morning. So diverse is this selection that Punch Magazine claims that the city will probably have a bar tailor-made for every type of consumer — especially those with a love for a specific drink or spirit. Yet, the city's predilection for specialization has not meant a decline in the more wide-ranging, local establishments. As Justin Elliott, a director of hospitality, points out to Thrillist, "NYC has always been and will always be the greatest drinking city in the world — and it's not just as a part of some kind of contemporary, cocktological renaissance-inspired pilgrimage, but because every single neighborhood in NYC still deeply cherishes the 'local' in ways that nearly every other city has either abandoned or never ever learned to love."

We feel it is important to point out that if you do desire a fancy, cutting-edge cocktail, then New York City will spoil you for choice. Double Chicken Please, which made its first entry to The World's Fifty Best Bars last year epitomizes this approach by serving cocktails that mimic familiar solid foods, such as cold pizza. While elsewhere, New York City stalwart Dante continues to impress by providing classic Italian cocktails alongside an impressive range of aperitivos, as per The World's Fifty Best Bars.

6. Medellín, Colombia

If it's a party that you're looking for, then you could do far worse than visiting Medellín. According to Time Out, 90% of Medellín inhabitants participating in a nightlife survey agreed that their city has an incredible drinking and partying scene — and you can guarantee that all kinds of music will make up the soundtrack to your experience while drinking here. As Mixmag reports, Medellín's underground music scene is thriving thanks to pioneering DJs such as Julianna. So, if you're visiting Medellín, find a live music venue and grab something from the bar.

What you are drinking at these fantastic events is largely a matter of choice. However, to really get into the spirit of things we recommend Colombia's national drink, guaro, otherwise known as aguardiente. Guaro producer, Moises Mendal, explained the spirit's significance to Vogue: "We want people to think of guaro when they think of Colombia, the same way one thinks of mezcal to Mexico, or cachaça to Brazil. This spirit embodies Colombia's way of life, its music, culture, and traditions." So, order yourself a glass and prepare to lose yourself in a real, Colombian party.

7. Seoul, South Korea

Drinking is an integral part of Seoul's culture, so much so that drinks are available during all 24 hours of the day, as per Vice. While the global offerings of beer and wine can be routinely found among Seoul's numerous clubs, pubs, and bars, the real appeal of Seoul lies in its immense range of unique traditional alcohol.

Time Out reports that bars like De Chou serve some must-try South Korean spirits such as soju, a spirit that has a flavor profile similar to vodka (via Town and Country Magazine), and Moonbaeju, a distilled liquor that was traditionally served to royalty, as per The Korean Herald. Rarer finds can include Gyeongju Gyodong Beopju and Hansan Sogokju, while a visit is not complete without sampling the famous makgeolli (via Visit Korea).

As with any capital city, there are a number of more internationally-minded destinations that can be visited, including the acclaimed Charles H, one of the best bars in the entire continent (via Asia's Fifty Best Bars). However, our advice would be to skip the fancier establishments and immerse yourself in Seoul's raucous nightlife in the districts of Hongdae, Gangnam, and Itaewon, as per Korea Travel Post.

8. Melbourne, Australia

As Punch reports, pub culture is an extremely important part of Melbourne's drinking scene. The role the pub plays in the city is nicely summarized by Melbourne-based businessman Pavneet Singh Mann: "People like to stop by at a pub for a quick drink and catch up with their friends after work, even on weekdays. Families often came to our pub in Ballarat for a meal. Usually, birthday parties are an occasion where friends and family like to head to the pub to celebrate as they are affordable venues," (via SBS Punjab).

However, drinking in Melbourne does not mean being limited to the pub alone. In fact, since the days of Melbourne's gold rush, the city's drinking culture has stretched far beyond the pub. As noted by The Sydney Morning Herald, trailblazing establishments such as Jimmy Watson's Wine Bar — which you can still visit today — changed how those throughout the city, and wider Australia, drink. Most notably, they popularized Australian wine.

If wine is your thing, Melbourne will spoil you for choice. Not only are there a whole host of excellent wine bars in the city (per Time Out), but there are also numerous wineries within easy visiting distance. What's more, Visit Victoria highlights that the valleys surrounding Melbourne are home to some of Australia's most famous grapes including shiraz and pinot grigio. 

9. Bristol, England

Bristol has long been the British hub for sound system music due to the Caribbean migrants that moved to the city post-World War Two. This group of people, known today as the Windrush Generation (via Bristol Museums), has had an immense influence on all aspects of Bristolian culture, including the city's thriving arts and music scene, as per The Guardian. To enjoy a drink in Bristol, just pull up to a bar or event, place your order, and enjoy listening to some world-class, bass-heavy music.

For those looking for a quieter drink, Bristol is also home to an array of pubs, many with a unique twist. For example, Horts is known for housing a small cinema while Kongs has a massive selection of 1980s arcade games (per Bristol Live). On the other end of the spectrum, you have megaclub Motion which is heralded by many as one of the best underground clubs in the world (via Mixmag). In Bristol, there is a night out that suits everyone.

As to what you're drinking, traditionalists would suggest enjoying some local cider, like that brewed by Bristol Cider Company. You can also enjoy a range of locally brewed beers right on the harbor-side at Arnolfini gallery. Trust us, there's no better place to be when the sun is going down.

10. Nairobi, Kenya

For those who enjoy a more energetic drinking experience filled with dancing and great tunes, Nairobi is a top-notch option. The first thing that draws many people to Nairobi is the music, as documentary maker Mia Zur-Szpiro highlights: "The music was the first thing that caught my attention and showed me what Nairobi really was and that the city and its people are so much more than our Western narrow-minded, spoon-fed concept of them is. The diversity, the sound, the experimentation, the energy that I heard in the music was just completely absorbing and intriguing," (via Fact Magazine).

Yet, it is not just the pulsating dance floors that make Nairobi an ideal destination for drinks lovers but also the impressive range of bars that the city boasts. As Brian Owango, World's Fifty Best Bars Academy Chair for Africa-East, explained, Nairobi is home to some world-class establishments. These include Hero, a hotel-based speakeasy, and Revolver, a well-hidden bar that specializes in high-end beverages. Further delights can be found across the city; just follow the sound of the thumping music and you'll end up somewhere spectacular. 

11. San Juan, Puerto Rico

If there's one spirit that defines Puerto Rico, it is Don Q rum. Having been made on the island since the mid-1800s this spirit has become the entire island's favorite rum and by default, beverage of choice (via Distiller). Consequently, you should expect to drink a lot of Don Q when visiting the country's capital, San Juan, be it straight or in some of the city's most iconic cocktails.

Regardless of what drink you order in San Juan, excellent quality is guaranteed. As Brad Dean, CEO of Discover Puerto Rico explains, this is because making and serving world-class drinks is simply the Puerto Rican way: "The events provided visitors and locals alike with a taste of the innovative cocktails we produce all year long. Casa Bacardi is also the largest rum distillery in the world, and located in our capital city. And, the island is the birthplace of the piña colada. It's an integral part of our cultural DNA," (via Forbes).

An always popular bar recommendation is Barrachina, where the original piña colada was supposedly created (via Discover Puerto Rico). If sipping piña coladas in the warm sun doesn't take your fancy we would suggest one of the best bars on the planet, La Factoría. Currently ranked twelfth in the world by World's Fifty Best Bars, La Factoría offers a range of rooms, each with a particular focus, ensuring there is a seat and a drink that suits everyone.

12. New Orleans, United States

New Orleans is home to its fair share of bars. World-class musicians also frequently tour the city. What's more, its famous parties, such as Mardi Gras, are known across the globe. However, these are not the main reason why New Orleans is such a fantastic drinking destination. Instead, as Town and Country Magazine explains, this honor goes to the humble go-cup.

Unlike most other places in the United States, New Orleans allows people to drink on the street, as long as it is from a plastic cup. This creates the bizarre juxtaposition wherein customers purchase expensive cocktails from bars such as Jewel of the South (via 50 Best Discovery) before decanting them into cheap cups and heading outside. While it might seem initially confusing, the reason for this decanting craze is soon apparent. The streets in New Orleans are incredibly fun. Oftentimes streets can feel like one big party, and for most drinkers, a party of the New Orleans caliber is a welcome sight.

Exploration is a key facet of travel, so while others may turn their noses up at the iconic hand grenade or hurricane cocktails (per GQ), you very well might love them. Just be sure to also indulge in the city's range of more nuanced cocktails, such as New Orleans' very own Sazerac (via Time Out). Or, if you're feeling really fancy, get the iconic French 75 from Arnaud's French 75 bar (per New Orleans).

13. Hong Kong, Hong Kong

If you want your pick of world-class bars then Hong Kong is the perfect drinking destination for you. Time Out reports that two bars in the city made the 2022 World's Top Fifty list. The most prominent of these is COA, a cocktail bar that specializes in mezcal, as per Time Out. Although the average person might not expect a bar specializing in agave-based beverages to be situated in Hong Kong, COA has still found immense popularity, as co-owner Jay Khan explains. "I'm surprised to see how many local guests actually enjoy mezcal –- it helps that most can relate it to a peated whisky," says Khan. "We as a team at COA spend as much time as required to share our knowledge of agave spirit with our guests who show interest. No matter how busy we are, we take our time with each individual guest so they enjoy the spirit to its fullest," (via Drink).

Aside from the glitz and glamor of modern buildings, Hong Kong also houses some exceptional bars in older architectural icons. These include The Pawn, a bar that is located inside a pre-Second World War tenement building, as per World's Best Bars. To stay in keeping with the traditional mindset of establishments like The Pawn, we suggest ordering a bottle of Wing Lee Wai, a rice wine brand that has been made in Hong Kong for over a century (via Localiiz).

14. San Sebastián (Donostia), Spain

San Sebastián is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe, flanked by beaches and stuffed full of beautiful architecture. Despite these obvious attractions, San Sebastián also features on many travelers' wishlists due to its prominence in the food and beverage world, with the small city having a breathtaking concentration of Michelin stars, as per Donostia San Sebastián Tourismo.

For beverages, a real treat comes in the form of txakoli, a gently sparkling, immensely refreshing white wine (per Decanter). This wine can be ordered in both the Michelin-starred restaurants and the numerous pintxo bars that fill the old town. Here, informal cañas can also be drunk by the dozen and a genial atmosphere pervades all, thanks to the chatter which bounces along the narrow streets. The laid-back dining style of pintxos is well-suited to the amicable climate you can find during the summer months. So, while San Sebastián might not be the most exclusive drinking destination on this list, it is almost definitely the most relaxing.