By Leo Byrne, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Heading to one of Rio’s many Brazilian style bars or ‘botecos’ for an after work beer is a pursuit that is well woven into the city’s cultural fabric. However for expatriates and travelers missing the more traditional venues of home; complete with imported beers, familiar décor and wooden bars in need of propping up, following is a round up to kick off 2013.
Since 2009 the Blue Agave in Ipanema is a great place to drop in for a post beach beer or a more substantial night out. “We get a very mixed clientele here, with both locals and expats, but it’s busy every night and we never close,” owner Richard Nelson told The Rio Times.
The Blue Agave also has a location in Copacabana which opened in November 2011. Although not as much foot traffic passes, the space is larger and the kitchen serves up great enchiladas and nacho plates.
Back in Ipanema, Shenanigan’s Irish Pub has been providing travelers and locals with live music and sports since 2001. Now under new ownership, the busy bar is the largest in Ipanema which makes it an ideal spot for mingling and meeting new people.
Those missing the comforts of the UK can also head to Lord Jim’s on Rua Paul Redfern, also in Ipanema. This traditionally decked out English style pub is complete with a great beer selection, dartboard and even does a good cup of evening tea.
New since the last list, is the Clover Irish Pub having opened its doors late last year. The Clover looks out onto Copacabana Beach and is unusually decked out with dark woods and red brick walls. The menu reflects the variety of its patrons, offering snacks for those coming in after a day’s sunbathing or more traditional meals to accompany a glass of ‘Sink The Bismark’, one of the world’s strongest beers.
Staying within Copacabana, the well-attended Mudbug has two venues, the larger of which on Rua Rodolfo Dantas is currently closed until next week. When in full swing however the busy nightspot is a great place for locals and foreigners to mingle, accompanied by Brazilian music loud enough to get people dancing and a thorough selection of interesting cocktails.
Visitors to Rio needn’t stick to the Zona Sul (South Zone) beach districts to find good bars however. The Lapa Irish pub offers a shelter for those wishing to take a break from the samba fueled street parties outside.
Recently under new ownership the Lapa Irish Pub maintains its traditional atmosphere but now offers happy hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well as live music on the weekends.
Owner and American expatriate, Bob Fetterman, explains; “The Lapa Irish Pub is a different niche of the bar business than the other nearby bars. Rock & Roll and Irish music, imported beers, upscale clientele, the unique decor. [...] The type of bars I enjoyed when living in Baltimore’s Fells Point district and the Fort Lauderdale [Florida] area.”
On the border between Botafogo and Humaitá, Meza Bar has been slowly cultivating a reputation for being one of the best venues in town. With a long, softly lit bar and trendy music, Meza manages to ensure a big turnout every night of the week. “We get a lot of the after work crowd here, a lot of young people looking to relax and eat some good food,” Iago, the bar’s host told The Rio Times.
With a bit more edge, those looking for a dose of rock music should head to Saloon 79 on Rua Pinheiro Guimarães in Botafogo. The lively venue has been making waves with its live bands that play classic scream-along head-banging hits.
A list of bars in Rio would be incomplete without mentioning Ipanema’s after-hours/all-night hole-in-the wall, Empório on Rua Maria Quitéria, 37. This charming old building is quite until about 1AM, at which point it fills the streets until 5AM, not recommended for the faint-hearted.