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The Best Of The Bureau 2019: Bars

The Best Of The Bureau 2019: Bars

The Best of The Bureau is a year end series of posts that reveal the most viewed stories featured on The Bureau in 2019.

Over the coming weeks we’ll post the most popular content from our three main categories: Eat & Drink, Travel & Lifestyle.

Our followers will already know that we’re not huge fans of subjective lists that rank one bar or restaurant or venue ahead of another. We’re here to support the community, not to destroy it.

So that’s why we’ve decided to roll up our sleeves, dig into our backend and deep dive into the data to give you our ‘Best of’ based on the volume of traffic our stories attracted throughout the year.

And in case you were wondering, these aren’t sponsored posts. You voted with your eyes.

We hope you find our Best of The Bureau series useful.

First up, it’s bars.

Summer Experiment

The crew who brought us arguably Saigon’s most popular bar – Layla Eatery & Bar – finally flung open the doors to their much-anticipated new garden craft cocktail bar in November.

Summer Experiment represents a commitment to the craft of bartending and cocktails on a level never seen before in Saigon with ingredients carefully sourced from farms in Dalat and from within Summer Experiment itself. 

Discover 27 signature cocktails that award-winning bartender Jay Moir and his team have carefully created through experimentation, including the Peanut Butter Jelly Time, a cheeky throwback to the flavours of our childhood made with whisky and infused with Dalat peanut butter, raspberry jam, Angostura bitters, cherry bitters and some mini toast for some crunchy texture between sips.

Summer Experiment has begun its journey towards being one of Asia’s best bars. Pop in to find out why.

For more information about Summer Experiment, visit

Summer Experiment is at 77-79 Ly Tu Trong St., District 1, HCMC

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Telephone Bar

At Telephone Bar you gain entry through a bright red telephone booth whereby you lift the old school receiver off the hook to activate a sliding door.

Inside you are greeted by a well-stocked bar and an impressive drinks menu served up by dapper bartenders dressed in three-piece suits sporting lapel pins and who speak in hushed tones. 

At the bar you can seat half a dozen punters comfortably, but if you want more privacy, there’s plenty of other seating available on the ground floor and upstairs.

While there are multiple floors to this speakeasy, the ground floor offers an ambiance that makes it an ideal place to wind down over a nightcap with special someone before heading back out into reality.

Telephone Bar is at 41 Nguyen Van Trang St., District 1, HCMC

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Back in 1988 the Japanese animated post-apocalyptic film Akira debuted and was set in a dystopian 2019. 

Fast forward to 2019 and new Saigon bar SMOG pays homage to the film with its post-apocalyptic red lighting vibe, flickering TVs and bar staff dressed in orange overalls.

The menu is refreshingly small with five signature cocktails, including The Shining Paloma made with tequila, pink grapefruit liqueur, lime, grapefruit tonic and mixed salt. 

There’s also a selection of low ABV drinks, classic cocktails and Japanese style smoke bar snacks.

Gas masks provided.

For more information about SMOG, visit

See Also

SMOG is at 120-122 Le Loi St., District 1, HCMC

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Below Whisky Den & Cocktail Bar

Although thought of as a whisky bar first and foremost, Below has also built a solid reputation for being one of the most creative and hospitable establishments in Saigon. 

Situated one floor “below” rooftop bar Broma on Nguyen Hue Street in District 1, Below is cosy and den-like with warm lighting and relaxed European loungey feels.

More than that, Below is leading the way in sustainability in Saigon with its launch this year of a menu that includes a batch of closed-loop or anti-waste cocktails served up in recycled aluminium soft drink cans.

Earlier in the year, Below was voted as offering the best Negroni experience in a nation-wide competition that involved 40 bars during Negroni Week celebrations.


For more information about Below, visit

Below Whisky Den & Cocktail Bar is 41 Nguyen Hue St., District 1, HCMC

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In The Mood

In The Mood is another polished, world-class addition to Saigon’s maturing cocktail bar scene with a small stable of bartenders who mix up seriously good drinks with professionalism in a warm and welcoming space smack bang in the middle of town.

While In The Mood’s signature tipples push the envelope of what should and perhaps shouldn’t be suitable in a drink (salmon nori, truffle?), sometimes you’ve just got to let the night take you where it may and give things a try.

Their eponymously named drink the ITM is an example, made from sous vide truffle Tanqueray gin, banana, Tio Pepe sherry, elderflower and salmon nori, it lands you at the taste intersection where sweet and sour collide, while the funk of truffle and banana creaminess finish this taste sensation.

But if it’s whisky you’re after, then In The Mood is the right choice for you. ITM has built a solid reputation for being in-the-know when it comes to whisky with its very impressive collection arranged by country and region. 

For more information about In The Mood, visit

In The Mood is at 151/2 Dong Khoi St., District 1, HCMC

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Words & feature photo by Matt Cowan. Follow Matt on Instagram at @mattcowansaigon

Summer Experiment & SMOG photos by Mike Palumbo. Follow Mike on Instagram at @mikepalumbo_

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