The countdown to Ambiente has begun! Once again, Frankfurt will soon host the international gathering for designers, creative talents, trend spotters and makers of beautiful objects from the world of consumer goods. The bar scene in Frankfurt is more than a match for the many experiences and encounters expected at the fair. We present a selection of the hottest spots, where you will find not only excellent drinks, but also the typical Frankfurt mix of bankers and brokers, trade fair visitors, tourists and dyed-in-the-wool locals. You’ll meet young and old, followers of fashion, beautiful people and night owls. Come with us on a barhopping tour through Frankfurt’s night life.
Downtown Frankfurt. Between the Zeil shopping street and the beautiful Old Opera, you can feel life coursing through this city night and day. In the evening, when the population of “Mainhattan” hang up their suits and ties and shut up shop, the bars, restaurants and pubs open their doors. First and foremost is a place on Bockenheimer Strasse, a street which the locals call “Fressgass”.
It’s here on Frankfurt’s main pedestrianised axis, whose cobblestones run past venerable late 19th-century buildings to the beautiful Old Opera House, that anybody who’s anybody meets at the Victory Bar. The bar is not only popular for its central location, but also for its landlord Thomas Afeworki, referred to affectionately by regulars as the “Lenny Kravitz” of the bar scene. Drinks, snacks and a lot of Rambazambas are what Thomas has to offer. Rambazamba is the name of his signature cocktail, and it’s all available here day or night. After dark this bustling city centre café becomes a watering hole attracting a colourful cross-section of Frankfurt society, unlike almost anywhere else.
Frankfurt would certainly feature in a worldwide “Who’s who” of bars. Off Fressgass, near the unassuming Zwingergasse (by the Börse car park), The Parlour welcomes its guests. This purveyor of creative, high-class drinks was named one of the World’s 50 Best Bars 2014, and its barman Maxim Kilian awarded the title World Class Bartender 2014. However landlord Yared Hagos, previously a multi-award-winning chef at Roomers bar, is not one to boast. As its name suggests, he wants to welcome The Parlour’s visitors into a sort of cosy living room. Customers who want to drink at the low 96cm-high bar sit comfortably on specially designed smaller bar stools. This popular bar with its refined interior and unique creations demonstrate Hagos’ eye for detail. It has bare stone walls, and Chesterfield sofas by Frankfurt designer Douman Pour. The bar staff recommend the Queen of Hearts cocktail with redcurrants, tequila and coffee.
Also at the heart of the city, on Kaiserstrasse, both the drinks and the guests are a heady mix at the Sullivan Bar. If any bar exemplifies the image of Frankfurt as “Mainhattan”, this is it: a two-storey locale which wouldn’t look out of place on a New York film set. The décor includes elegant armchairs, a timeless understated interior and a first-floor pool table, all accompanied by highly attractive bartenders. Particular highlights are “forgotten drinks” like the “Boulevardier” made from bourbon, red vermouth and Campari. Even the snacks live up to the bar’s motto “as it should be”.
In his Willie James café-bar on Schillerstrasse, by the centrally situated Börsenplatz, Dennis Smith sets great store by authenticity. Whether you’ve come in for a tasty business lunch, for afternoon ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ (coffee and cake), or for an evening drink, this place hits the spot. The evenings are a sought-after celebration of cult sounds from the turntable and excellent drinks, enjoyed at the attractive long bar or at a cosy booth. Indeed Dennis has long been one of Frankfurt’s top-flight DJs! He named the Willie James after his father, who was himself a restaurateur. Dennis wants the bar to bring some soul into the inner city, both musically and in the selection of home-cooked food and exquisite drinks. Our cocktail recommendation: A Moscow Mule served in an authentic copper mug.
And finally, a newcomer to the Frankfurt bar scene: the Pearly Gates opened in late 2014 in Kleine Hochstrasse, a side street off Fressgass. The landlord, however, is no newbie: Madjid Djamegari is well-known in Frankfurt as the driving force behind the King Kamehameha Club and Managing Director of the high-profile Gibson Club. Now this experienced restaurateur has opened a smart bar which offers 1920–1940s nostalgic New York chic, and serves refined cocktail creations by head barman Stefano Motta. Already a firm Frankfurt favourite, the Pearly Gates can offer one thing for sure: a guarantee that you’ll see and be seen in the Frankfurt bar scene.