Tato Giovannoni’s legendary cocktail den, Floreria Atlántico, was named best bar in Latin America for the second consecutive year. Tucked under a flower shop on a leafy street in Buenos Aires, it’s packed nightly with regulars who come to joke with Tato and his tight-knit team.
One attraction from an innovative menu inspired by Buenos Aires’s immigrant heritage is the Balestrini Negronis (a homage to Giovannoni’s Italian grandfather) made with Tato’s own brand of artisanal gin and paired with sophisticated bar food. A pioneer in reviving the lost art of exceptional bartending, Giovannoni’s approach has seeped into the porteño sub-culture, turning Buenos Aires into one of the world’s most interesting cocktail scenes. Here, he picks his favorite drinking spots.
#1 Verne Club
This bar in an authentic corner of Palermo Viejo is owned by Federico Cuco, one of the most dedicated bartenders in Buenos Aires. You’ll find him behind the bar even on his day off, chatting to customers about cocktail history as he experiments with Argentine classics, between writing letters to fellow barmen across the globe. The bar’s design, concept and menu are inspired by Cuco’s favorite author, Jules Verne, so expect something original.
This tiny, hole-in-the-wall bar in San Telmo is owned by Guillermo Blumenkamp, an Argentine who lived in Europe for many years and came back five years ago. It’s special because of him, and its edginess is akin to New York or London. The drinks are totally inventive. He specializes in bitter flavors and only serves cocktails, there’s no beer or wine, so don’t ask. If he doesn’t like you, he’ll tell you to get out , but that’s part of the charm.
Av. Juan de Garay 500 esq. Bolívar,
San Telmo, +54 11 4300 0201
One of the most exciting openings of 2014 was Shout, created by Santiago Lombardi and Sebastian Maggi. The latter used to work for the Four Seasons, so it’s great to have him back on the scene. I’ve been once since it opened mid-November and sat at the bar, drinking Calis (Gin, Reserve Pinot Noir, tropical spicy red syrup, cynar, martini rosso and smoked pineapple) with home-made chorizo. The place was packed with girls, which could be down to the sleek design (industrial style in a 1890s mansion) or the owners.
Maipu 981, Retiro, +54 11 4313 2850
#4 Plaza Hotel
A few blocks from Plaza San Martin, Plaza Hotel is one of the oldest bars in Buenos Aires and there’s something magical about it. It could do with refurbishment, which may be on the cards after being bought by the Alvear Group. For now, you can still soak up the 1930s atmosphere. It’s a real experience, where waiters in black tie will serve you a clarito (a dry martini with a twist) while you relax in leather armchairs and listen to the piano player, as people have for over 80 years.
Florida 1005, Microcentro, +54 11 4318 3000
#5 Salón Berlin
A barber’s shop-cum-bar, Salón Berlin has evolved into a cult hang-out for an interesting porteño crowd thanks to the two “crazy Fernandos” (Fernando Ello and Fernando Chopper) who own it. It’s very traditional, but totally quirky. You can combine the best shave in the city, sitting in a leather dentist’s chair, with classic negronis. It opens from 11am but it’s best to go from 6pm when the music starts and the place is packed. They are the only ones who can touch my beard when I’m in town.
Humboldt 1411, Palermo, +54 11 2070 4050