Top Spots: Ace Terraces

Lofty heights at the Sky Bar.
Following on from a couple of hot spots and where to have a bite to eat in a sunny corner, let’s take this up a notch, literally.

Buenos Aires is a city that takes a disco siesta before hitting clubs that may often go well past the crack of dawn into mid-morning (and if you haven’t been to one then you haven‘t been trying hard enough), but sometimes a sweaty moshpit isn’t the calling one requires of a weekend.

And although this city is rammed with watering holes across every neighbourhood (jostling neck and neck with steak houses and pizza parlours, but today we’re dealing in liquor and drinking), it’s often hard to find a place which physically lifts you.

A few years ago, on a trip to Madrid, an old school mate took me to a stunning terrace overlooking a classical madrileña square. The drinks were hot, the people were hot, I was practically sweating glamour except it was the middle of winter. The Me Hotel overlooking Plaza Sol was so fabulous and elegant. The perfect terrace. A venue to be emmulated.

In Buenos Aires it’s a different game. A bar gets too rammed, drinkers simply pile out onto the street and carry on the party among the cobble stones and the trees. Expat haunts Sugar and Magdalena’s Party are both great for that, especially the latter, which doesn’t appear to have fussy (or any) neighbours, although one should keep an eye on frisky 39 bus-drivers coming too close to the curb…

And, of course, there are any number of bars with ivy-clad patios and some solid beats, such as Wednesdays at Río Café and the post-club establishment Levitar any weekend night. However, these joints, as great and fun as they, are ground floor only and I’m after a bar with a view, even if it is just one floor up.

So let’s kick off this list downtown and head north in an orderly fashion.

Try as I may, I just can’t come up with a San Telmo bar, which is a shame, however, Microcentro plays a little fairer.

The recently opened Hotel Pulitzer gives it good and tall from the offing. From the lofty heights of the 13th floor, the Pulitzer, which forms part of the Design Hotels empire, held Thursday night gatherings earlier this year for those in the know at its Sky Bar. The good news is that cool drinks and cooler airs from on high are on the menu again this summer and it is a most elegant white and mirrored spot with some City views that can´t be matched.

Meanwhile, the eclectic Le Bar winds its way upward across several floors bedecked in futuristic furniture, pumping out fabulous sounds until you pop out on its roof. Et voilà. And up the road and round the corner is La Cigale, known for its live music and pub quizzes, as well its narrow balcony which crowds up with anxious smokers.

Northward on the cusp of Recoleta is the bar to beat all bars, in my opinion, Milion. This stunning, converted mansion has been around for more than a decade and it never fails to wow me when I walk in to the first floor bar and see El martir looking down from the wall while waiting for a basil daiquiri.

Although the ground-level garden has classic wooden tables and umbrellas, which makes for a more comfy sipping experience despite there being less space there’s nothing more fun than standing on the patio or lurking around the steps. With such a mixed foreign-Argentine crowd, it’s super easy to get chatting on the marble stairway with a view of the stunning back garden area.

Dip into Little Venezuela at Caracas in Palermo Soho.
Of course, it is Palermo Soho that holds the trump cards with regard to ace terrace space. Around Plaza Armenia, there are a cluster of bars and restaurants that all offer views over the arts and crafts fair, but one of the more attractive, if for its new-age vibe, is Quimbombó. Serving up some citra-licious lemonades perfect for a late sunny afternoon, the house drink is a tall frozen ginger and vodka cocktail. Refreshing and with health food properties…

Maxim is a newish Soho spot which attracts a young foreign crowd keen to become closer than mates in a night. Although service isn’t necessarily impeccable, it’s friendly and the first-floor terrace is a good spot to keep a beady eye on what’s happening on Borges.

Venezuelan haunt Caracas, slightly ironically located on Guatemala, which boasts a large outdoor space although its view is rather less interesting than Maxim’s. That said, they do serve up arepas, tequeños and tostones and have quite the rum collection to attack.

Now Belushi is one place that is a complete pick-up joint, and after its outdoor refurbishment, things are likely to get even hotter. Attracting the Fernet and Coke brigade, Belushi is also slap-bang next door to Congo which attracts a slightly older crowd — still on the pull at ground level.

And as reviewed last week, Sheldon, just off Plaza Serrano, even has a swimming pool located on its terrace, although it will be firmly sealed off before long to stop rowdy punters from conveniently falling in.

The most surprising outdoor space on the radar is Koh Lanta. Given that the interior divides up into various smaller salons, a vast, lantern-lit, bamboo and palm-decked terrace awaits upstairs, making you wonder why you wasted all that time inside. Post Street Bar also offers up some surprises of the artistic variety, given that many a street artist has used the wall space as a canvas. One other newbie to pop up of late is Rey de Copas which I’m assured proffers an “interesting” terrace. Read what you will into that, I’ll be checking it out any moment now.

Crossing over the railway line to Hollywood, let the unicorn lift you. Unicorn Huset threw open its doors earlier this year as a kind of speakeasy but has since gone more mainstream. A mixed hipster crowd is the order of the day on Friday nights, which clusters on the back terrace, surging and drinking as one.

Another newish pub is Salon Berlin, which cunningly pulls in the overspill from Bangalore opposite, which doesn’t have the benefit of its own outdoor space. Definitely worth a look, those in need of a short back and sides can also get that at the bar slash hairdresser. Just around the corner, Niceto Vega Street has more drinking space per square metre than any other street (that is not a fact, readers), yet the only one to proffer a great outdoor space, even if it is covered, is Carnal. Always bustling but not to the point of annoyance, it’s easy to get a drink, looking down at Niceto. The view is enough entertainment for any evening.

First published in the Buenos Aires Herald on November 11, 2012.
Photos courtesy of Pulitzer Hotel and Caracas bar.

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