12 Bars in Unexpected Places

It's not hard to find a bar, but if you're looking for something special, you have to do some digging. Here are some bars in unusual places that are worth the trip.


Behind a nondescript door marked with the number “33” sits a swanky, members-only social club right in the heart of the New Orleans Square area of Disneyland. The only location in the park that serves alcohol, Club 33 was established by Walt Disney himself as a haven for important park guests, celebrities, and investors (the bar still contains antiques and decorations hand-selected by Disney and his wife). To join, be prepared to plunk down $10,000 a year, plus a $25,000 initiation fee per person. But good luck getting in: The wait time for this members-only establishment has been known to reach upwards of 14 years! (If you really need some wine at the park, fear not. Recent reports have indicated that Disneyland will have a new private dining venue called 21 Royal Street. It’s going to give Club 33 members priority, but if the location is unbooked on any given day, it will be open to members of the general public.)


On a picturesque cliff in Costa Rica sits El Avion, a bar built in the fuselage of a 1954 Fairchild C-123 transport plane. It's rumored to have been purchased by the U.S. government to move men and supplies during the Iran-Contra scandal; the plane was abandoned by the CIA after its sister aircraft was shot down by Sandinista guerillas. In 2000, the C-123 was disassembled and moved to its current location. Now the aircraft bar is a great place to grab a beer, catch a sunset, and soak up some history. 


Although residents of London’s Kentish Town neighborhood fought against the repurposing of an old subterranean public toilet, owner Will Borrell won out, and Ladies and Gentlemen was born. Craft cocktails and locally sourced bar snacks comprise the highly cultivated menu at this London speakeasy. The entrance is marked by an above-ground sign, but patrons must descend into the subterranean lounge. Visible cisterns and pre-World War II marble on the walls call attention to the space’s former function. 


Have you ever been drinking at a bar and thought, “This is fun, but I wish the decor was a little more funeral-y?” Eternity Bar in the western part of Ukraine has you covered. Made out of real pine and owned by a funeral home, this coffin-shaped bar is the perfect place to have a cold beer and contemplate your own mortality. It features funeral wreaths and smaller coffins inside, and even holds the Guinness World Record for largest coffin. With dishes with names like “Let’s Meet in Paradise,” what’s not to like? 


In a hotel overlooking the Berlin Zoological Gardens, Monkey Bar provides a prime vantage over the garden’s primate habitat, where drinkers can see orangutans, bonobos, gorillas, and chimpanzees. In addition, patrons have a stunning 360-degree view of the city, including the expansive Tiergarten, Berlin’s central park. An express elevator shoots right up to the top floor of the very trendy 25 Hours Hotel Berlin. With live music and world-class DJ events, Monkey Bar caters to all tastes and fashions. 


At this one-of-a-kind watering hole, patrons can sip aged wines in an even more aged setting—the trunk of a 1700-year-old baobab tree. Standing over 60 feet tall with a diameter of almost 35 feet, the tree is regarded by the South African Dendrological Society as the largest example of this baobab species in the world. The Big Baobab attracts visitors from across the globe and serves as a symbol of South African heritage. Within the tree itself, a breathtaking array of caves and caverns have been carved out by a thousand years of natural aging processes, resulting in one of the most unique settings on Earth to enjoy a glass of top-shelf South African wine. 


Floyd’s is a tiny little outpost replete with locals playing dominoes and fresh-caught lobster on the menu. Located in Parottee Bay on the South Coast of Jamaica nearly a mile out to sea, adventurous travelers must take a 20-minute boat ride to reach this driftwood bar propped up on stilts. Many of the local fishermen will take you out to Floyd’s for a small fee, and once you arrive, it’s more than likely that Floyd himself will be there to greet you. The bar has an interesting origin story: Floyd dreamt of owning a bar on stilts, and gradually began transporting driftwood and other building materials using his fishing boat. (The first bar was completed in 2001; after Hurricane Ivan destroyed it in 2004, the bar was rebuilt with the help of donations from the community.) The establishment gets its name from a group of pelicans that would frequent the sand bar upon which Floyd built the bar of his dreams. 


Located at the end of the world, in Vernadsky Research Base, a Ukrainian research station in Antarctica, Faraday is the perfect—and only—spot to enjoy a libation for hundreds of miles in any direction. The watering hole was constructed 30 years ago by carpenter Keith “Cat” Larratt and named after what the research base was called before the British sold it to Ukraine. Now, an eclectic mix of British and Ukrainian paraphernalia adorns the walls, creating a warm, welcoming atmosphere in one of the most desolate places on the planet. The customer base includes a rotating cast of scientists and passengers from Antarctic cruises; the food and supply shipment comes once a year. 


The space is used as a local meeting place, concert venue, and events center. Reminiscent of the Pantheon in Rome, a hole in the center of the arched bamboo ceiling lets hot air escape, creating a window to the sky. The remarkable structure uses cool lake water as well as wind to create a natural air-ventilation system. To reach this bamboo bar situated in the middle of a lake, drinkers must cross a path of stepping stones—a much easier task before you’ve had a few Tiger beers!


Instead of craggy stalagmites jutting out from every angle, this cave in the ancient city of Petra has spectacular columns carved out of the rock. Originally used as a tomb by the Nabatean people over 2000 years ago, the site of the Cave Bar features rough sandstone walls, massive, monolithic rocks, and stunning archways. Open until the early hours of the morning, the massive caverns that comprise the bar are lit in dreamy fashion by a series of lanterns, which illuminate the pouring of expensive champagne and hookah smoke. It’s unlike anything you’ve ever experienced, including the 26 percent tax!


Located underneath a nondescript barbershop, this Edinburgh speakeasy allows you to live out your James Bond and Batman fantasies—to enter, you need to pull the correct book out of an overstuffed bookcase. Featuring many touches straight out of the Prohibition era, including a plush carpeted staircase, lamps made from vintage hair accessories your grandmother might have used, and glass cabinets full of exotic-looking liquor, Panda and Sons captures the mood and spirit of the 1920s perfectly.


The term “speakeasy” doesn’t fully capture the magic and mystery of Foxglove, a new drinking establishment set behind the facade of an English umbrella shop in Hong Kong. Touch the correct silver-handled umbrella and you’ll find yourself transported to what feels like a different world. Foxglove is replete with secret passageways, hidden compartments, and even a pressure-sensitive painting that grants patrons access to an extra-secret library-themed barroom. Head to 6 Duddell Street, walk up the stairs to the second floor, and let the adventure begin.

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Why Adding Water to Your Whiskey Makes It Taste Better
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Don’t ever let people tease you for watering down your whiskey. If they’re true aficionados, they’ll know that adding a splash of water or a few cubes of ice to your drink will actually enhance its natural flavors. But how can something as flavorless as water make a barrel-aged scotch or bourbon taste even better? Chemists think they’ve found the answer.

As The Verge reports, researchers from the Linnæus University Centre for Biomaterials Chemistry in Sweden analyzed the molecular composition of whiskey in the presence of water. We already know that the molecule guaiacol is largely responsible for whiskey’s smoky taste and aroma. Guaiacol bonds to alcohol molecules, which means that in straight whiskey that guaiacol flavor will be fairly evenly distributed throughout the cask. Alcohol is repelled by water, and guaiacol partially so. That means when a splash of water is added to the beverage the alcohol gets pushed to the surface, dragging the guaiacol along with it. Concentrated at the top of the glass, the whiskey’s distinctive taste and scent is in the perfect position to be noticed by the drinker.

According to the team’s experiments, which they laid out in the journal Scientific Reports [PDF], whiskey that’s been diluted down to 40 percent to 45 percent alcohol content will start to show more guaiacol sloshing near the surface. Most commercial whiskey is already diluted before it's bottled, so the drink you order in a bar should fall within this range to begin with. Adding additional water or ice will boost the flavor-enhancing effect even further.

As for just how much water to add, the paper doesn’t specify. Whiskey lovers will just have to conduct some experiments of their own to see which ratios suit their palate.

[h/t NPR]

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Big Questions
If Beer and Bread Use Almost the Exact Same Ingredients, Why Isn't Bread Alcoholic?
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If beer and bread use almost the exact same ingredients (minus hops) why isn't bread alcoholic?

Josh Velson:

All yeast breads contain some amount of alcohol. Have you ever smelled a rising loaf of bread or, better yet, smelled the air underneath dough that has been covered while rising? It smells really boozy. And that sweet smell that fresh-baked bread has under the yeast and nutty Maillard reaction notes? Alcohol.

However, during the baking process, most of the alcohol in the dough evaporates into the atmosphere. This is basically the same thing that happens to much of the water in the dough as well. And it’s long been known that bread contains residual alcohol—up to 1.9 percent of it. In the 1920s, the American Chemical Society even had a set of experimenters report on it.

Anecdotally, I’ve also accidentally made really boozy bread by letting a white bread dough rise for too long. The end result was that not enough of the alcohol boiled off, and the darned thing tasted like alcohol. You can also taste alcohol in the doughy bits of underbaked white bread, which I categorically do not recommend you try making.

Putting on my industrial biochemistry hat here, many [people] claim that alcohol is only the product of a “starvation process” on yeast once they run out of oxygen. That’s wrong.

The most common brewers and bread yeasts, of the Saccharomyces genus (and some of the Brettanomyces genus, also used to produce beer), will produce alcohol in both a beer wort
and in bread dough immediately, regardless of aeration. This is actually a surprising result, as it runs counter to what is most efficient for the cell (and, incidentally, the simplistic version of yeast biology that is often taught to home brewers). The expectation would be that the cell would perform aerobic respiration (full conversion of sugar and oxygen to carbon dioxide and water) until oxygen runs out, and only then revert to alcoholic fermentation, which runs without oxygen but produces less energy.

Instead, if a Saccharomyces yeast finds itself in a high-sugar environment, regardless of the presence of air it will start producing ethanol, shunting sugar into the anaerobic respiration pathway while still running the aerobic process in parallel. This phenomenon is known as the Crabtree effect, and is speculated to be an adaptation to suppress competing organisms
in the high-sugar environment because ethanol has antiseptic properties that yeasts are tolerant to but competitors are not. It’s a quirk of Saccharomyces biology that you basically only learn about if you spent a long time doing way too much yeast cell culture … like me.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.


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