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Venice, a city steeped in history and romance, is a labyrinth of winding canals, grand palazzos, and hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
As the day gives way to night, the city transforms into a vibrant playground for those in search of a memorable nightcap at the best bars in Venice.
From rustic “bacari” serving local wines and “cicchetti”, to sophisticated cocktail bars offering inventive concoctions, Venice is a city that caters to every palate.
As a local living near Venice, I have tried my fair share of bars in Venice. Join me as we embark on a journey through the city’s drinking scene, exploring the best bars to enjoy a drink, immerse in local culture, and experience the magic of Venetian nights.
The Charm of Venetian Bars
Venetian bars, each with its own distinct character, are as diverse as the city itself. Some are nestled in centuries-old buildings, where the past and present coalesce, while others are modern establishments that push the boundaries of mixology.
As you step into one, you’re welcomed by an atmosphere that’s both intimate and vibrant. The soft hum of conversation, the clinking of cocktail glasses, the meticulous craft of bartenders – it’s a sensory experience that’s as captivating as the city’s winding canals and grand palazzos.
The drinks themselves are a testament to Venice’s spirit of innovation. From the classic Spritz to inventive concoctions that incorporate local ingredients, each drink is a work of art, a symphony of flavors that tells a story.
As you sip on these creations, overlooking the canals or the bustling city squares, you’re not just enjoying a cocktail, you’re immersing yourself in Venice’s rich tapestry of culture and tradition. It’s an experience that’s as intoxicating as the city itself, a memory that lingers long after the last sip.
Signature Venetian Cocktails
Venice’s bar culture is incomplete without its signature cocktails. The city is the birthplace of many classic cocktails.
Bellini: A classic Venetian cocktail, the Bellini is a delightful blend of Prosecco and peach purée. Created in the mid-20th century at the famous Harry’s Bar in Venice, this refreshing cocktail is a perfect balance of sweet and tart, embodying the elegance and charm of the city.
Spritz: The Spritz is a quintessential Venetian aperitif and is the most popular drink in Venice by far. Traditionally made with Aperol, Prosecco, and a splash of soda water, this effervescent drink is served over ice with a slice of orange. Its vibrant color and refreshing taste make it a favorite among locals and tourists alike.
Negroni Sbagliato: A delightful twist on the classic Negroni, the Negroni Sbagliato replaces gin with Prosecco, adding a bubbly touch to this beloved cocktail. The combination of sweet vermouth, bitter Campari, and sparkling Prosecco creates a harmonious blend of flavors that’s both sophisticated and refreshing.
Rossini: A cousin of the Bellini, the Rossini swaps peach purée for fresh strawberry purée, paired with Prosecco. This fruity and bubbly cocktail is a popular choice during the summer months, offering a sweet and refreshing escape from the Venetian heat.
Sgroppino: A traditional Venetian dessert cocktail, the Sgroppino is a delightful blend of lemon sorbet, vodka, and Prosecco. This creamy and frothy concoction is often served as a palate cleanser between meals, offering a refreshing and zesty treat.
Select Spritz: A variation of the classic Spritz, the Select Spritz replaces Aperol with Select, a Venetian bitter aperitif. The result is a deeper, more complex flavor profile that’s a bit more bitter and less sweet, reflecting the rich and diverse character of Venice.
Prosecco: Prosecco is perhaps one of the most iconic beverages to come out of the Veneto region. This sparkling wine is made primarily from the Glera grape and is known for its light, bubbly, and fruity character. It’s often enjoyed on its own, but also serves as the base for many Venetian cocktails like the Bellini and Spritz.
Grappa: Grappa is a potent Italian brandy distilled from the leftover skins, seeds, and stems from winemaking. In Venice, it’s often enjoyed as a digestif after meals. Each sip of this fiery spirit offers a glimpse into the rustic and bold side of Venetian drinking culture.
Best Cocktail Bars in Venice
Venice is home to many cocktail bars, each with its own specialty cocktails.
Bar Longhi, nestled in the Gritti Palace, is a timeless icon of Venice, steeped in literary history as the place where Hemingway completed his novel “Across the River and into the Trees.” Bar Longhi’s regal decor features Murano glass chandeliers, Fortuny fabrics, and priceless Piero Longhi paintings.
Bar Longhi is the go-to spot for special occasions or for those seeking an exquisite martini. The house specialty, the Basil-Ica, is a unique blend of gin, lemon, St-Germain, fresh basil leaves, and orange bitters. Another standout among their craft cocktails is the Kir Imperial, a delightful mix of creme de framboise and Champagne. These specialty offerings, along with ten variations of the martini, are featured on the Bar Longhi cocktail menu, all complemented by a well-stocked wine cellar.
Bar Longhi’s clientele includes returning visitors, celebrities, notable locals, and well-heeled travelers. The impeccable service is a highlight, with tuxedoed bartenders who are among the best conversationalists in Venice. They are always ready to engage in friendly chats and provide personal recommendations. Bar Longhi is the perfect place to celebrate the high point of your trip, whether it’s a birthday, a proposal, or simply the final sunset of your Venetian journey.
Considered the best cocktail bar in Venice, the bar’s name itself (The Merchant) is a nod to the city’s lagoon and the great travelers, adventurers, captains, explorers, sailors, and leaders of yesteryear. The bar’s decor, featuring velvet sofas, leather armchairs, lanterns, and Liberty-style lamps, instantly transports you to the charm of a speakeasy.
The bar’s menu is akin to a travel diary, a literary journal of the great navigators of the past. It offers two paths: one featuring ever-present original creations, and the other a seasonal menu inspired by the epic journeys of the past.
The cocktails, beyond their alcoholic bases, incorporate a variety of spices, fruits, syrups, and vegetables, showcasing competence, balance, originality, and a dash of cleverness. Prices start from 10-11 euros, which is consistent with the setting. The bar also boasts a wide selection of spirits including gin, bourbon, whiskey, sherry, rum, pisco, mezcal, and cognac.
Harry’s Bar is steeped in history and charm. Opened in 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani, the bar’s inception is tied to a fascinating story of friendship and gratitude involving Harry Pickering, a wealthy young American. The bar, declared a national landmark by the Italian Ministry for Cultural Affairs in 2001, has been a favorite haunt of many famous personalities, including Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin, and Alfred Hitchcock, among others.
The bar’s drink offerings are as legendary as its history. Harry’s Bar is the birthplace of the famous Bellini cocktail, a refreshing blend of Prosecco and peach purée. It’s also known for its unique take on the dry martini, served in a small glass without a stem, and mixed very dry, with a ratio of 10 parts gin to 1 part vermouth. This is an adaptation of the Montgomery Martini, named after British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery.
The drinks are some of the most expensive in Venice, but the cost is more about the experience than the product. Sometimes it’s worth it to splurge and this is the place to do it.
Margaret DuChamp, located in Campo Santa Margherita in Venice, Italy, is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. The bar is known for its lively atmosphere and excellent selection of drinks. It’s a great place to unwind and enjoy the local scene, with patrons noting the reasonable prices and friendly service. The bar is also praised for its outdoor seating area, which offers a great spot for people-watching.
The drinks at Margaret DuChamp are a highlight, with generous pours of Prosecco and a variety of other beverages available. The bar is also known for its music, with a good selection that adds to the overall ambiance. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a relaxing drink in the afternoon sun or want to experience the local nightlife, Margaret DuChamp is a great choice.
Best Bars in Venice with a Canal View
There’s something magical about sipping a drink by the canal in Venice. Here are a few standouts where you can get a great drink with a great view of a canal.
Taverna al Remer
Taverna Al Remer, tucked away in the charming Sestiere Cannaregio of Venice, is a delightful spot that offers an authentic Italian experience. The atmosphere is truly enchanting, with a lively piano player serenading the guests and a cozy, candlelit interior that transports you back to a different era.
The dockside location, although a bit challenging to find, is a popular hangout spot, with patrons enjoying drinks while taking in the beautiful waterside views. The ambiance is further enhanced in the evenings with the lively chatter of people and the soft glow of the setting sun.
While the food at Taverna al Remer has its own charm, it’s the cocktails that truly steal the show. The bar offers an extensive selection of signature cocktails, each meticulously crafted and presented. The bartenders are known for their creativity and skill, often surprising patrons with their unique concoctions.
The happy hour aperitivo buffet from 5pm to 7pm is a popular choice, offering not only good value for money but also a chance to sample a variety of their cocktails. Whether you’re there for the drinks, the atmosphere, or both, Taverna Al Remer promises a memorable experience.
Ombra del Leone
During my visit to Venice, I discovered a charming spot called Ombra del Leone. This bar-restaurant, tucked away from the city’s hustle, offers an affordable yet luxurious experience. Its outdoor terrace overlooks the stunning Grand Canal, providing a tranquil setting for sipping local wines and cocktails. Despite its prime location, the prices are surprisingly reasonable.
For those seeking a fuller meal, they offer a range of creative pasta and seafood dishes. Ombra del Leone is a must-visit in Venice, offering a unique blend of local culture, flavors, and breathtaking views.
This hidden gem, with its blend of affordability, luxury, and cultural immersion, is a must-visit spot in Venice. The breathtaking views and tranquil setting will make any visit to Ombra del Leone a memorable part of your Venetian journey.
Best Wine Bars in Venice
For wine lovers, Venice offers a plethora of options.
Enoteca Mascareta, a Venetian institution, has been attracting a loyal following for decades. Initially a small, divey wine bar, it has evolved into a popular spot with a full menu, serving organic wine and classic Italian dishes. The bar is known for its finely-tuned selection of Italian wines, with a particular focus on the northeast region of Italy.
The owner, Maurizio Lorenzon, has developed a reputation for having one of the best wine lists in town, making Enoteca Mascareta an ideal place to start an Italian trip. The wine bar is also known for its excellent gin and tonics, providing a diverse drink menu for all tastes.
The atmosphere at Enoteca Mascareta is welcoming and lively, with a crowd that includes a mix of locals and tourists. The staff, led by Lorenzon, are known for their friendly and entertaining service, adding to the overall enjoyable experience at the bar.
The food menu has grown from small bar bites to a full range of Italian favorites, including traditional seafood dishes like cuttlefish in ink sauce and spaghetti with clams, as well as house-made pasta dishes with pesto or lemon zest sauces. Enoteca Mascareta is a must-visit for any wine lover visiting Venice, offering a comprehensive introduction to Italian varietals in a convivial setting.
Wine Bar 5000
Wine Bar 5000, situated on a quiet canal away from the central tourist crowds in Venice, is a small but charming wine bar that would fit perfectly in the Tuscan countryside. The bar’s ambiance, with its exposed brick walls, polished concrete floors, soft lighting, and a few outdoor tables, makes it an ideal spot for a glass of wine between sightseeing stops.
The bar is frequented by locals and travelers alike, who enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and the extensive selection of organic, biodynamic, and vegan Italian wines.
The wine menu at Wine Bar 5000 boasts over 100 bottles, focusing on wines from across Italy. The bar is particularly known for its chilled whites and temperature-controlled local reds, making it one of the best spots in Venice for a stationary wine-tasting journey.
The bar also offers a curated selection of cold cuts, Italian cheeses, and cicchetti, all designed to pair well with the wine list. The staff at Wine Bar 5000 are known for their warm and welcoming service, making patrons feel like they’re being welcomed into an Italian family’s home. This wine bar is perfect for small groups of friends or family looking to enjoy a relaxed and intimate wine-tasting experience in Venice.
Vino Vero, located on the quiet fringe of Cannaregio along a peaceful canal, is a beloved bacaro that stands out among the many wine bars in Venice. With a sign proudly declaring “No spritz; we love wine!”, Vino Vero is known for its extensive list of wines by the glass and bottle.
The interior features modern light fixtures and a custom wood bar, creating a unique ambiance that sets it apart from other Venetian bacaros. A few wooden tables outside offer low-key waterside seating, making it an ideal spot for a relaxing glass of wine.
The wine list at Vino Vero leans towards biodynamic and slightly experimental wines, with a daily chalkboard menu showcasing the offerings and their regions of origin. Wines such as Rosso Toscano, Languedoc, and Carignon Blanc are frequent features. While the focus is on the wine, the bar also offers high-end cicchetti to pair with the beverages.
The staff at Vino Vero are deeply knowledgeable about Italian wines and are always ready to guide patrons through a wine tasting. This is the perfect place for those seeking a guided wine tasting experience in a relaxed and welcoming setting.
Best Bars for Beer Lovers in Venice
While Venice is known for its wine, it also has a thriving beer scene.
Il Santo Bevitore
Il Santo Bevitore, one of the notable bars in Venice, is a charming spot nestled in the heart of Cannaregio. This unassuming pub is adorned with nostalgic decor, including old bar stools that add to its vintage charm. With over 20 beers on tap and a menu of affordable cicchetti, traditional Venetian snacks, it’s a great choice for those seeking a laid-back and budget-friendly experience.
The pub’s atmosphere is invitingly divey, with a rotating selection of draft beers and a fridge filled with a diverse range of other brews. The old bar stools and nostalgic decor create a warm, welcoming environment that transports you back in time. A standout feature is their selection of Trappist beers on draught, brewed in one of only 11 monasteries worldwide. For those looking to escape the summer heat and enjoy a relaxed, casual dining experience, Il Santo Bevitore is a great choice.
Birreria Zanon, located on the outskirts of Cannaregio, is a hip and edgy Venice bar that has become a favorite among young Venetians. The bar’s kitschy decor, featuring beer-oriented artwork, sassy signs, and fishing nets, creates a unique and inviting atmosphere.
The bar offers a refreshing break from the typical Venetian bar scene, with a diverse selection of Belgian, American, British, and local Venetian beers flowing from the taps. This makes it a popular spot for beer lovers of all stripes, from university students to construction workers, gondoliers, and travelers. If you’re looking for something other than beer, they make the biggest Spritz I’ve ever had.
The bartenders at Birreria Zanon are known for their playful attitude, adding to the bar’s overall charm. The best way to enjoy a visit to this bar is by sitting outside by the canal on a sunny afternoon, savoring a cold beer and watching the world go by. Birreria Zanon is a must-visit for anyone seeking a unique and laid-back beer-drinking experience in Venice.
Best Bars for Live Music in Venice
Venice Jazz Club
Venice Jazz Club, tucked away in the heart of Venice, is a hidden gem for jazz enthusiasts. The club offers an intimate setting where patrons can enjoy live jazz performances by incredibly talented musicians.
The club’s ambiance is warm and inviting, with a touch of humor from the pianist and host, making the experience even more enjoyable. The music ranges from well-known jazz standards to original pieces, ensuring a diverse and engaging performance. The club is a listening room, so it’s perfect for those who appreciate the music and prefer not to talk during the performance.
In addition to the music, Venice Jazz Club offers a selection of food and drinks. The cover charge includes a first drink, and the club serves a variety of wines and cocktails. The food menu, while not extensive, features satisfying dishes like pasta.
The service is friendly and efficient, adding to the overall positive experience. The club is popular, so reservations are recommended. Overall, Venice Jazz Club is a must-visit for jazz lovers visiting Venice, offering a unique and memorable night of music and entertainment.
Il Paradiso Perduto
Il Paradiso Perduto, located in the heart of Venice, is a unique and lively spot that offers a blend of fantasy, party, anarchy, freedom, and music. The venue’s decor, reminiscent of a ship’s hold, features long tables that encourage communal dining. Known for its heaping plates of grilled or fried seafood and cheap beer and wine, Il Paradiso Perduto also doubles as a jazz club, hosting live music performances from 9 PM until late.
The club has a young, bohemian vibe that is infectious, making it a popular spot among locals and tourists alike. Even Keith Richards himself has jammed here!
The owner, Maurizio, carefully manages Il Paradiso Perduto, ensuring it retains its original charm despite the changing times. The venue is primarily a restaurant, but it also offers a variety of ‘chicchetti’ at the counter. The best tables are along the canal, where patrons can enjoy fresh fried fish, meatballs, codfish, and other specialties during the summer, paired with a glass of house wine.
The lively atmosphere extends beyond the venue, making it a hub of intense nightlife in Venice. The club also hosts live concerts on Mondays, adding to its appeal. Il Paradiso Perduto is a must-visit for anyone seeking a vibrant and unique dining and entertainment experience in Venice.
Best Bars with a View in Venice
Some of the best bars in Venice offer stunning views of the city. Terrazza Danieli, located on the rooftop of the Hotel Danieli, offers panoramic views of the city and the lagoon. The Skyline Rooftop Bar, located at the Hilton Molino Stucky, offers breathtaking views of the city’s skyline.
Skyline Rooftop Bar
The Skyline Rooftop Bar, perched atop the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice on Giudecca Island, offers unparalleled panoramic views of the city, reaching as far as Piazza San Marco. The bar’s seating options, including lounge chairs, couches, and high-top tables, allow visitors to enjoy different perspectives of the breathtaking scenery.
The bar is a must-visit for travelers, who often come prepared for sunset photoshoots. The extensive 48-page drink menu features Venice-inspired cocktails with seasonal ingredients like rosemary and thyme, alongside Italian wines and classic cocktails. The bar’s signature cocktail, the Smokey Old Fashioned, is smoked on the spot in a blend of excellent service and performance.
Terrazza Danieli, perched atop the luxurious Hotel Danieli in Venice, offers an unparalleled drinking experience that is as much about the ambiance as it is about the beverages. The establishment’s drink menu is impressive, boasting a wide array of wines and sparkling wines, including local Prosecco and Champagne, that cater to a variety of palates. The cocktails are expertly crafted, and the bartenders are knowledgeable and accommodating, ensuring each drink is tailored to the guest’s preference.
However, the true highlight of Terrazza Danieli is the breathtaking panoramic view of the Venetian lagoon and the city. This view, coupled with the restaurant’s elegant decor and romantic candlelit atmosphere, creates a truly unforgettable drinking experience. Despite some reviews mentioning high prices and a certain level of exclusivity, the consensus is that the drinks, the view, and the overall experience make a visit to Terrazza Danieli well worth it.
Wrapping It Up
Venice’s vibrant bar scene offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, a cocktail enthusiast, or simply someone looking to enjoy a good atmosphere and friendly company, you’re sure to find a bar that suits your tastes. So, the next time you find yourself in Venice, step off the beaten track, step inside one of these bars, and experience the city like a local.
Cheers to your next adventure in Venice!