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Хамбара (Hambara): Sofia’s Hidden Bar

Bartender’s Best


By Samuel Garza




It’s not very often that you walk into a bar and drop your jaw out of pure amazement. That is exactly what happened to me when I walked into Hambara in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Hambara means bar and what a perfect name for this hidden gem. The look and feel of Hambara is entirely bohemian. The bar can be difficult to find and that’s exactly what adds to its mysteries.  In the past, the bar was a rendezvous for an elite social class of Bulgarians or intelligentsia.  Knocking on the door did not allow access into their secret world.  You had to say the passcode to be allowed in.  There is no passcode needed today, but you will have to knock to be allowed into the bar.


The door is always locked so you have to knock to be allowed into the bar.


Once you walk in, you can go upstairs or choose to sit on the first level.  I walked around the bar to take photos and figure out where I wanted have my first drink.  I eventually found a seat at the bar and ordered my first round.




The address is 22, 6th of September Street. Once you arrive at the address, the bar is behind another bar and its only access is through a small walkway that leads up to the entrance. Once you walk up to the door you will need to knock to be allowed inside.  However, be warned.  Leave your attitude, problems, and issues at the door.  If you don’t, the bartender will notice and you might not be welcomed back.


The bar serves beer, wine, and whiskey.  They do not serve food, but they sell bags of chip so make sure you eat before coming to the bar.  My beer of choice was the Pirinsko.


Opens daily at 21:00.

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Bartender’s Best

“Italy has changed.  But Rome is Rome.”
– Robert De Niro



By Samuel Garza


I have visited the ancient city of Rome many times over the past two decades and I can never get enough of Rome’s culture, history, and food.  I have several favorite restaurants and historical sites I enjoy visiting (more blog posts to come), but nothing motivates me more than visiting Enoteca il Goccetto.  This cozy and rustic bar serves up many delicious Italian and French wines along with small plates to hold you down before dinner.  Over the years I’ve met many locals and tourist in the bar, and during my most recent visit, I was surprised to learn that Goccetto is one of the first wine bars in Rome.  The bar opened in 1983, which may seem new, but the cool thing about this bar is that it’s housed in an ancient Roman building called “Palazzetto del Vescovo di Cervia”.













I like to start my day off with a delicious Italian cappuccino followed by a long walk around parts of the city to take photographs.  Regardless of the weather, I’m usually in need of a rest and a cool drink after a few hours of walking around the streets of Rome.  I usually find my way to the historic street of Via Giulia and then zig zag my way to Goccetto.  Once I arrive, I usually order one of my favorite Italian beers, G. MENABREA E FIGLI Amber.  I highly recommend you do the same, especially on a warm Summer day.



There are several beers to choose from, but I consistently order the amber.  This beer is part of a brewery that was founded in 1846 and has been winning medals for it’s tasty brews for 170 years.



The bar does not offer large portions of food, but you can order Carciofi Grigliati, cheese, olives, and other small plates to compliment your wine selection.  If you need help figuring out what you should order, ask the bartender to pair some food with your drink selection.  The bar’s staff are friendly and welcoming.  Don’t be shy.  Ask and you shall receive.  🙂

















The bar has over 800 wines which are mostly a collection of Italian and French.  You don’t have to ask for the menu to see their selection because the wines are the bar’s decoration.  There are hundreds of wines decorating the walls.  You can walk around and select the magic bottle that will keep you happy for a few hours.  I usually have wine in the evening when the bar is filled with people.  I’ve asked other patrons their recommendations when I wanted to try something new.  Trust me, the regulars are friendly and will be willing to help you choose a good bottle or two.



Before I head home for the night, I always choose a digestivo to cap off a wonderful day.  My favorite Italian digestivo is Amoro Nonino.  This famous digestivo is made in Fuili, which is in Northern Italy.  This delicious drink is grappa based and blended with several herbs.  Amoro Nonino is reddish in color and stands firm at 70 proof.

Don’t be surprised if you see several patrons crowded near the entrance to the bar with their drinks.  The bar is small and many people take their drinks out to the street to chat with their friends.  I recommend getting to to the bar early if you want to have a seat inside, however hanging outside with the locals is also a cool experience.

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[Video] Scarfes Bar

Bartender’s Best

Scarfes Bar in London

Located in the Rosewood Hotel on High Holborn street, Scarfes Bar is a classy and sheik bar that is a must visit while in London.  The artist, Gerald Scarfe, has lent his name to the bar.

When you arrive you will be greeted by friendly staff and a gorgeous class case with over 200 scotch bottles that will have you staring for minutes.

What should you order to drink?  Ask Oscar Mena (Head Bartender) to give you an All Generations.  You will not be disappointed.

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