Bar guide: Lisbon, Portugal

Bar guide: Lisbon, Portugal

The craft cocktail scene in Lisbon is picking up pace – here are 10 of the city's best cocktail spots

Bars | 15 Aug 2023 | By Virginia Miller

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Over the last five years, Lisbon’s cocktail scene has exploded. While Cinco Lounge has been serving up craft cocktails in the Portuguese capital since 2004, it was not until Red Frog Speakeasy opened in 2015 that Lisbon’s cocktail renaissance really started to roll out. While later than other European cities, Lisbon bars are now robust and varied, whether the hot scene at newer Rocco with its gorgeous central bar, live music, and Negroni variations, or quirky 1980s multi-room museum and bar, Pavilhão Chinês. Here are 10 of Lisbon’s best bars now.

The bar at Quattro Teste. Credit: Virginia Miller

Quattro Teste
R. de São Cristóvão 32
1100-177 Lisboa
One of Lisbon’s best newer bars is Quattro Teste, opened in 2021. Owners Alf del Portillo and Marta Premoli beautifully meld their Bilbao, Spain and Milan, Italy heritages in a chic and inviting little bar enhanced by their gracious service. You’ll find Basque pintxos and gildas next to Italian shakeratos and polenta fries, and Basque sidra (cider) on draft alongside spritzes and Negronis. Cocktails include a crushable Amaro Kalimotxo of Rioja red wine, Coca-Cola, citrus, salt, and lacto-fermented raspberries, or nutty Burro e Salvia of gin fat-washed with butter, sage, pistachio orgeat, lemon sherbet, Nardini Mandorla Grappa, and cracked black pepper. Whisky gets its due in Cinarino, a cocktail clarifying bourbon, Cynar, vanilla, mushroom, and apple water soda with yoghurt.

A Night in Tunisia cocktail at Liquid Love. Credit: Virginia Miller

Liquid Love
R. do Desterro 5
1150-127 Lisboa
Opened November 2022 by Cheila Tavares and Semi M'zoughi, Liquid Love feels like that ideal, hidden bar we all wish was in our neighborhood. It’s easily one of Lisbon’s best and most welcoming. The 1980s Italy-inspired stuzzicheria (snacks) and drinks reflect their Tunisian-Italian (Semi) and Portuguese and Cape Verde African island (Chelia) roots, as well as their expert bartending history in London at major bars such as 69 Colebrooke Row and Hawksmoor. There are a few whiskies behind the bar, and cocktails include the likes of A Night in Tunisia: blanco Tequila, ras el hanout spices, an aromatic fatali gold peppers in-house distillate, lime, and prickly pear syrup.

The bar at Ulysses. Credit: Virginia Miller

R. da Regueira 16a
1100-437 Lisboa
If you’re lucky enough to get a reservation in closet-sized Ulysses in Lisbon’s oldest neighborhood, Alfama, you’ll be treated to custom cocktails — and superb spirits — from Canadian-Portuguese founder Manuel Barreira. Barreira is passionate about drink, including non-alcoholic (NA) wines and spirits. He weaves from custom NA drinks to cocktails, like a black Manhattan twist with J.P. Wiser’s Lot 40 cask strength Canadian whiskey, Portugal’s historic, monk-distilled singeverga herbal liqueur, Chartreuse, and Luxardo maraschino, amped up with cherry extract. For spirits and whisk(e)y lovers, his deep collection is a wonderland where you can sip vintage French Suze liqueur up to a century old or rare whisky glories like White Horse Distillers’ 1980s bottling of Lagavulin 12 Years Old, now going for thousands of pounds a bottle.

The Berne Jesse cocktail at Uni. Credit: Virginia Miller

Rua de O Século 204
1250-095 Lisboa
Uni is a tiny nine-seat bar, centered around a faux stone bar and enclosed by curtains. It was opened in December 2022 by Constanca Cordeiro, also of popular Toca da Raposa (below), who bartended in London for years. While her cocktail base is almost all vodka for neutrality, Uni is one of Europe’s most innovative new bars as Cordeiro takes inspiration from perfume and culinary combinations in 10– to 15–ingredient, pre-batched cocktails made with local produce and botanicals. For example, the Berne Jesse cocktail is described as “wild, mineral, acidic, eccentric”, made from toasted rice, fermented kiwi, dill, seaweed, lichen, and jasmine, clarified with dragonfruit. TempRem is “green, nutty, aromatic, vegetal”, combining distilled roasted pistachio, pea shoots, pear, wasabi, eucalyptus, makrut lime, parsnip, lemongrass, white grape, and vanilla. Each drink is seamless, silky, and unique, offering a fresh way of thinking about cocktails. Make reservations, given its diminutive size.

Nikkei Milk Punch at Onda Cocktail Room. Credit: Virginia Miller

Onda Cocktail Room
R. Damasceno Monteiro 45
1170-253 Lisboa
Reservations are recommended at the tiny, charming Onda, marked by dark walls and vintage art. Peter O'Connor, owner, bartender, and former master of whisky at Diageo, certainly brings whisk(e)y expertise and a tight spirits collection. He and restaurant industry fiancée Joana have crafted a cocktail menu that is culinary, refined, and crushable behind a tiny bar where they hand cut ice. The bestselling Tommy Smokey Margarita is smoked with olive wood, while Ta Krai Mao (drunken lemongrass) is aromatic and tropical with coconut water, makrut lime, coconut, galangal, green chilli, lemongrass, and coconut milk powder. Amoxicillin showcases Scotch with ginger, honey, egg white, and lapsang souchong tea for smoky depth. Onda is another example of the intimate, high-quality neighbourhood bars now making Lisbon a great cocktail city.

Zeppeling Funk Punch at Red Frog Speakeasy. Credit: Virginia Miller

Red Frog Speakeasy
Praça da Alegria 66b
1250-004 Lisboa
Red Frog Speakeasy has been a Lisbon cocktail pioneer since Paulo Gomes and Emanuel Minez opened it in 2015. Winning global awards, the speakeasy — always marked by a red frog outside — eventually moved, now hidden inside the same building as their newer bar, Monkey Mash. With classic speakeasy vibes, this space is elegant and cosy, as bartenders guide you through the refined cocktail menu or craft something to your taste preferences. There are some whisk(e)y treasures on the menu: a Macallan and almond highball, a shoyu caramel-laced Umami Sazerac, or creative sips such as the Fake Wine (The Singleton 12 Years Old Scotch, Martini Fiero, white port, bell pepper, tomato water, and rocket).

In The Dark cocktail at Monkey Mash. Credit: Virginia Miller

Monkey Mash
Praça da Alegria 66B
1250-004 Lisboa
Opening in 2019 from Red Frog Speakeasy owners and Lisbon bar pioneers Paulo Gomes and Emanuel Minez, Monkey Mash is the yin to Red Frog’s classic yang. Monkey Mash is a colourful, 1980s retro bar, heavy on sugarcane and agave spirits (rum, Tequila, cachaça, etc.). Murals by urban artist AKA Corleone enliven the space, while bartenders play with culinary elements with a focus on recycling and sustainability. Drinks are vibrant, with whisk(e)y in play in highballs or a palo santo and medjool date Old Fashioned.

A Mustard Dill cocktail at Toca da Raposa. Credit: Virginia Miller

Toca da Raposa
R. da Condessa 45
1200-302 Lisboa
Constanca Cordeiro of new bar Uni (above) made her name in Lisbon opening Toca da Raposa, a minimalist, cave-like space, centred around a large square bar. It is focused on sustainability, with foraged, seasonal, local ingredients and unmarked spirits bottles behind the bar keeping the focus on flavor profiles. The whimsical menu is illustrated by the owner’s nephew with animals signifying drinks listed by main flavors. Using a centrifuge, house syrups, and other techniques, drinks are silky and well integrated. Spirits from gin to Tequila are well represented, while whisky is featured in cocktails such as a bold bourbon, orange, pink peppercorn, and dill syrup milk punch.

Inside 18.68 Cocktail Bar. Credit: Bairro Alto

18.68 Cocktail Bar at Bairro Alto Hotel
Largo Barão Quintela
1200-016 Lisboa
Housed in Portugal’s oldest volunteer fire station, lofty 18.68 Cocktail Bar in Bairro Alto Hotel is a chic stop for Portuguese and Japanese-inspired food, like a red prawn rissoli pastry roll. Bartender Tiago Santos crafts a smart cocktail menu of 68 spirits, thoughtfully curated, represented in cocktails with distinctly Portuguese twists. Reduced Whiskey Sour is a smart Portuguese play on the classic, featuring Woodwork Portuguese Cask Whisky, Madeira wine reduction, lemon, and bitters. The same goes for an elegant Porto cocktail of Louriana XO Brandy, Quinta do Infantado White Seco Dry Porto, bay leaf, and ginja cherry liqueur.

A Vishnu cocktail at JNcQUOI Asia. Credit: Virginia Miller

Av. da Liberdade 144
1250-146 Lisboa
Designed by Lázaro Rosa Violán, JNcQUOI Asia’s four-room space — bar, restaurant, sushi bar, and terrace — is stunning and whimsical, a neon and greenery-lined wonderland inspired by Tokyo, Bangkok and Hong Kong, down to a massive skeleton shaped like a dragon above the dining room. The bar is an easy stop for sushi and cocktails. Alongside a range of whiskies, Asian-influenced cocktails include the Ganda’s Highball (whisk(e)y blend, genmaicha orange cordial, hibiscus, and soda).

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