Macau does a lot of things well. And it does drinking very well indeed. This is partly due to the Portuguese influence, as the former colonial ruler imported a fondness for wine as well as Mediterranean food, so nowadays few respectable hotels or restaurants lack a well-stocked cellar. And the city’s international vibe means that a pub crawl could embrace anything from Japanese sake to the merriest beers brewed in Ireland. Here are my suggestions on cool bars to get your fill of Macau nightlife.
Best bars in Macau
1- Sky 21
Starting at the very top – Sky 21 is as much drone as it is cocktail bar, perched atop a downtown skyscraper, with views from its roof deck out over both city and sea.
As might be expected, the crowd here is pretty flash, and gets pretty wild towards the early hours of the morning. You’ll get to experience Macau nightlife at its best.
2- Macallan Whisky Bar & Lounge
From the dizzy heights of downtown to one of the most intimate bars in the city: The Macallan Whisky Bar & Lounge.
Take your time choosing – there are 400 different malts from all over the world on offer, dispensed in a clubby atmosphere that’s formal, discreet and wholly enjoyable. Enjoy the Macau nightlife with a Scottish twist.
3- Bar Azul
Similarly classy, Bar Azul is often cited by repeat guests as one of their main reasons for staying at Four Seasons: Bombay Sapphire gin is given a bit of a marketing push here – not that anyone is objecting.
4- McSorley’s Old Ale House
From the sublime to the hilarious: McSorley’s is typical of all those Irish bars that dot the global map like bus stops.
It’s set within The Venetian, but retains a distinctive, free-booting air, with all the traditional beverages (and of course food) on tap.
5- Old Taipa Tavern
Macau’s other standout pub is the Old Taipa Tavern, set in the heart of Taipa village and very much an expat local, a world away from the glitz and glamour of the casinos and high-end malls.
Sit outside here, or prop up the bar with a pint, and it doesn’t take long for lunchtime to merge into supper, or aperitifs to transform themselves into nightcaps.
6- Vida Rica
One of Macau’s most intriguing watering holes occupies pride of place in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Vida Rica sports three bars, serving champagne and cocktails – the Millionaire’s Mojito embraces rum, cane sugar and fresh lime and mint – as well as tapas.
The design is crisp and modern, with the soaring ceilings complemented by windows overlooking the harbour.
This is the ideal place to entertain (the hotel’s restaurant is right next door), celebrate, or simply to kick back and revel in the very best service and deliciously fused alcoholic beverages that the city has to offer.
In my book, this is one of coolest of the cool bars in Macau.
7- 38 Lounge
Finally, what is perhaps Macau’s most discreet drinking haunt has secured a niche for itself at the top of the Altira Hotel on Taipa.
Called 38 Lounge – a traditionally lucky combination of numerals – it’s a blend of indoors and out, with a house band and a resident DJ, all sorts of enticing cocktails, and a fun ambience that pulls in a young crowd intent on having fun.
The lounge opens late afternoon, but has no set closing time: it’s very much a case of “last man standing.”
8- The Roadhouse Macau
Life-sized models of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and the Blues Brothers outside? Check! A stash of motorcycle memorabilia within? Check! Guitars signed by The Rolling Stones and a pair of Mohamed Ali’s boxing gloves? Check! The Roadhouse Macau is not just Macau’s biggest independent bar, it’s retro written in capital letters.
But really it’s the live music — a heady mix of rock and blues – at Roadhouse Macau that keeps tourists, locals, expats, and casino workers looking to chill at the end of their shift coming here in their dozens. Although the bar opens at noon, it hits it really gets going after dusk.
9- Macau Soul
It would be hard to find somewhere more laid-back than Macau Soul. The bar is run by a couple from the north of England with a fondness for good wine, good music and all the other good things in life.
Anyone dropping by here should take a moment to browse the wine list, which carries more than 400 labels from Portugal, chosen from both traditional and newer progressive producers.
The live entertainment is similarly wide-ranging and varies from night to night: jazz, blues, old-time, Texas swing, country, folk and classical. It’s always fun here, that’s for sure.
10- Aba Bar
The MGM hotel has one of the most amazing atriums in Macau – high and bright and a stunning tribute to the city’s architecture. And in one corner ABA Bar – complementing Aux Beaux Arts restaurant – is a parlour-style lounge where guests can enjoy a crafted cocktail or sip from a multitude of varietal selections housed in the wine cellar.
High-backed chairs and satin sofas provide the perfect backdrop for a pre-dinner drink or a romantic nightcap. And at weekends DJs serve up contemporary and chic sets for the music-loving crowd.
Not surprisingly, the most popular request is Dancing Queen, the 1976–hit from that very-well-known Swedish group!
11- China Rouge
When you’re in the mood to chill, China Rouge presents the thinking drinker’s lounge bar in Macao, with top-notch music and a vast selection of all things grain and grape and their associated accessories, delivered amid smart décor that’s an admirable melding of eastern style and western pizazz.
China Rouge Macau sits within the confines of the Galaxy Macau [SIC] complex, and its sumptuous interiors are bedecked with works by the likes of visual artist Chen Men and digitalist Bu Hua.
A regular jazz band adds a soothing backdrop, with a programme of contemporary favourites and standard classics, while the cocktail menu adds more than a touch of exoticism.
12- Wing Lei
You want class? Ease into Wing Lei. The bar takes its cue from the 18th-century French chandelier which illuminates the whole space.
The light is reflected in numerous mirrors and gilded mouldings, and semi-precious stones such as malachite, lapis lazuli, tiger eye and rose quartz are inlaid in the walls.
This is somewhere you come to drink in the atmosphere as much as the cocktails. And – surprisingly – there’s a tea menu here, with more than 50 varieties curated by Wing Lei Macau’s own master sommelier. This is certainly the place to come for an upper-crust cuppa.
Macau club scene
There’s no argument about it – Macau rolls 24/7, working hard, playing hard, and letting off steam with more than a little gusto. Stick a pin anywhere in the city map, and you’ll be within a short hop of a bar, club, pub or some sort of similar establishment that serves up alcohol and good vibes in equal measure.
From the casino hubs of Cotai, to the hushed back streets of the old city, the Macau club scene will delight all tastes and pockets: live music, vintage wines, celebrity haunts – as the old saying goes, if you don’t see it, we ain’t got it.
Now: time to party! Here are the best Macau clubs.
13- Pacha Macau
Born in the Mediterranean party island of Ibiza, Pacha’s migration to Macau has been an unbounded success.
Nestled next to Studio City on the Cotai Strip, the club is a perfect mirror of its European sibling, with hot DJs flown in from all over the world, cool lighting, a nigh perfect sound system, and – of course – a really wild crowd who love to do nothing more than dance their socks off.
The doors at Pacha Macau usually open at around 11pm, but things don’t really get going till past midnight. Entrance, including one drink, is priced at a relatively reasonable MOP200, or MOP150 in advance.
14- Club Cubic Macau
If Pacha has a rival, it’s Club Cubic Macau, the long-established Party Headquarters that’s facing off the brash newcomer on the other side of the Cotai Strip.
Spread across some 30,000 square feet over two levels of live entertainment space, Macau Cubic boasts a state-of-the-art performing stage, a dance pool lit by laser beams, a Gothic-style bar and – the first in Asia – a Perrier-Jouet champagne bar.
To crank the experience up a level, book one of the quintet of VIP rooms on the first floor, some of which have their own balcony that granting an unobstructed view of the pulsating action down below.
Ed Peters is a freelance writer who lives in Hong Kong
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