Nightlife

World's Best Bar Crawls

by Darrell Hartman

Beirut

What's on tap: A surprisingly hip bar district in a survivor city

Why it's worth a shot: Given all of the strife in Beirut's recent past, you'd be forgiven for assuming it's not a great party town. But the one-time "Paris of the Middle East" remains, despite political tensions, a bastion of liberality. And though Islam forbids the use of alcohol, the notion of a stress-relieving cocktail is embraced in Gemmayzeh, an old neighborhood that made it through Lebanon's 15-year civil war remarkably intact and is now full of artsy, shoebox-size boîtes.

Booze route: Start at the tiny, Torino Express at 253 Rue Gouraud, a former picture-framing shop so committed to partying that it remained open during Israel's bombardment of the city in 2006. Drink a toast to that survivor mentality before heading a few doors down Gouraud Street to Dragonfly, an Art Deco hole-in-the-wall where barmen in aprons and shirtsleeves mix a mean caipirinha. Next, follow the neon-red sign to Bar Louie, a grottolike space where the live jazz music will help you tap into the vibe of the raucous old Beirut. End your night in the rollback-roofed bar above French restaurant Centrale (pictured), a stylishly gritty space with excellent views, assuming you can still see straight, of the city's pockmarked skyline.

Hangover cure: Don't go to bed without a late-night shawarma and a sloppy game of backgammon at the historic Gemmayzeh Café, also known as the Glass Café by locals.

Torino Express
No phone

Dragonfly
Tel: 961 1 561 112

Bar Louie
Tel: 961 1 575 877

Centrale
Tel: 961 1 575 858

Gemmayzeh Café
Tel: 961 1 580 817

NEXT: Hot tub singalong, anyone?

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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