As partners go, “bar-hopping” and “Middle East” might sounds like dogs and cats, but a night out in Beirut is an exception.
The city has long been the party capital of the region, from its swinging ’60s heyday as the playground of the international jet set to its more recent resilience after years of conflict.
Beirut’s bar scene centers around the neighborhoods of Gemmayzeh and Hamra, and the recently hip district of Mar Mikhael.
Here are 10 places where Beirut warms up, gets hot and winds down.

1. Dragonfly

Bar manager Nino at Dragonfly

Lebanon may have gained independence from France in 1943, but there’s still a Parisian feel to this small cocktail bar on Gemmayze’s main drag.

Behind the bar, Nino and Danny mix inventive cocktails to old school jazz.

The daily happy hour from 6 to 8 p.m. makes Dragonfly a perfect place to start a Beirut night.

2. Torino Express

Torino Express

Undoubtedly the city’s most atmospheric drinking den, this tiny bar next door to Dragonfly is a Beirut institution.

What it lacks in size, this former picture-framing shop makes up for in character, with barrel-vaulted ceilings, no-frills décor and unpretentious crowd.

By day, it’s a café serving tasty panini and excellent espresso; by night, a standing-room-only bar serving beer, wine, cocktails and eclectic tunes.

3. Kayan

Kayan's chef Jean Moukhtar making tiramisu I

Down a quiet side street off Gouraud Street, Kayan is the kind of place you’d like as your local if you lived in Beirut.

It’s busiest midweek, when a casual, jean-clad crowd of 20- and 30-somethings pops by for expertly mixed cocktails ($5.50 during happy hour from 5–8 p.m.).

Like many Gemmayzeh bars, there’s no drink menu. Unlike its competitors, the owners are behind the long wooden bar.

Brothers Kayan and Jean Moukhtar are renowned for their tiramisu shot (they also make a mean Bloody Mary).

4. February 30

Unusual bar stools at February 30

A newcomer to Hamra’s lively alleyway of bars, February 30’s kooky décor evokes a wonderland worthy of Alice.

There’s furniture stuck to the ceiling, a DJ booth above the bathroom door and Beirut’s best bar stools.

The generous happy hour — all drinks half-price between 5-8 p.m. daily — provides a good excuse to visit.

On Sundays there’s a barbecue followed by a Lebanese film ($27).

5. Bar ThreeSixty

Bar ThreeSixty at Le Gray Hotel

Set around a dramatic glass atrium, this lounge offers some of the best views of the city, sea and surrounding mountains.

Visitors can pull up a pew overlooking the blue-domed Mohammad al-Amin mosque and join a sophisticated crowd sipping the signature ThreeSixty Martini.

A huge wine list features excellent local and international bottles, while the delicious charcuterie and cheese platters are good for sharing.

The resident DJ plays soft jazz, funky soul and happy house; there’s live music on Wednesday and Friday.

6. Internazionale

Internazionale

Set around a dramatic glass atrium, this lounge offers some of the best views of the city, sea and surrounding mountains.

Visitors can pull up a pew overlooking the blue-domed Mohammad al-Amin mosque and join a sophisticated crowd sipping the signature ThreeSixty Martini.

A huge wine list features excellent local and international bottles, while the delicious charcuterie and cheese platters are good for sharing.

The resident DJ plays soft jazz, funky soul and happy house; there’s live music on Wednesday and Friday.

7. Ferdinand

Ferdi Burger at Ferdinand

Despite its proximity to the prestigious American University of Beirut, this cozy, low-key gem attracts a 30-something crowd.

The music reflects this, with a playlist featuring funky old school, indie rock and ’70s and ’80s tunes -– but strictly no electro.

It’s primarily a cocktail bar, but there’s also local beer like Almaza, imports and Heineken on tap, plus good quality Lebanese wines.

The main draw is the Ferdi burger, which is topped with blueberry jam and homemade mayonnaise ($15). Trust us, it’s worth it.

8. Dictateur

Dictateur

With an underground vibe, industrial look and arty crowd, this watering hole on the outskirts of Mar Mikhael is worth seeking out.

Split over four areas, there’s a busy bar serving local beers and cocktails, with a happy hour every day from 6 to 8 p.m.

DJs play alternative and indie rock. If you want quiet conversation with your cocktail, there’s a lounge area and outdoor terrace.

9. Behind the Green Door

Behind the Green Door

Named after the cult 1970s porn flick, the velvet decor and impromptu pole dancing adds to this lounge bar’s louche feel.

Behind the Green Door attracts Beirut’s alternative party crowd (and a few hen nights, too) who come for the wide mix of music, including R&B night on Thursdays.

It gets packed on weekends, so visitors are advised to call head to reserve a table.

Consider plumping for a Piscine (champagne over ice) or brave a dou-dou shot (vodka, lemon juice and Tabasco with an olive).

10. SKYBAR

SKYBAR

No round up of Beirut bars is complete without the one that put the city on the international party map.

Opened in 2003, SKYBAR still reigns as the city’s biggest and best summer rooftop bar/super-club.

With 10 resident DJs yet no dance floor, dancing on the 60-meter long bar isn’t just encouraged, it’s expected.

Dress to impress and reserve a table to get past the notoriously tough doormen — there’s no minimum spend, but you’ll need at least eight people.

Other clubs may be snapping at its heels, but SKYBAR is still the one you want to brag about to your mates back home.

 

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