Spirits Spotlight travel

Sipping Spotlight: Hanoi’s Polite & Co.

This may very well be the coolest bar in all of Vietnam.

Polite & Co. is one of those places that feels like it would fit in with the hottest bars in London, NY or Hong Kong but also is distinctly Vietnamese. While the bar may be just around the corner from one of the busiest intersections in all of Hanoi, you feel totally separated from the rest of the city. It’s a fantastic bar bolstered by an eclectic design and an inspired cocktail menu.

Polite & Co. is not new to Hanoi, in fact it has a long history with the city. The bar actually opened in 1995 under the moniker Polite Pub, and in the earlier days was a popular expat hangout known more for its beer. Renamed Polite & Co in September of 2017 the bar underwent a major transformation to become what it is today.

The interior is a creative twist on the prohibition style. The wooden ceiling dons a number of top hats hanging diagonally above the bar – each fitted with LED light bulbs. Then there is the surrealist art adorning the brick walls opposite the bar adding layers of intrigue, along with the cigar room in the back. Overall, the dimly lit surroundings add to the warm welcome given by the venue’s knowledgeable bartenders, donning stylishly outfitted in white shirts and black suspenders.

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It’s these stylish bartenders that truly elevate the experience. First, the backbar houses over 500 different spirits from around the globe. This helps the staff make sure they are prepared to make practically anything a drinker could order. But aside from the expert bartenders, the establishment has created a cocktail menu that is expansive as it is creative. Titled Around the world in 25 Cocktails flavours are inspired by regional specialities from across the globe and it’s insane how good some of these are.

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Take for example from their Africa section the “Ethiopian coffee ceremony” a drink comprising of spiced rum, Ethiopian espresso, chai tea vermouth, saffron & cardamom syrup, Fernet Branca and orange bitters. Or from their Asia menu the “Tang Dynasty”, a mixture of Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Chrysanthemum infusion, Lapsang Souchong, Szechuan pepper & cardamom syrup, ginger Cointreau, Kumquat juice and egg white all served in a delicate ceremonial tea cup.

If the above sounds incredibly detailed and complicated, it’s because they are. Of course there are simpler offerings but just even having cocktails like that on the menu should give you an indication of the detail that has gone into this place.

Now all that comes with a price. Polite & Co. does run higher than the average drink in Hanoi, especially if you are used to paying Bia Hoi prices. But they aren’t extreme, and you would pay triple the price for these types of cocktails anywhere else.

For cocktail lovers, Polite & Co. is a can’t miss destination in Hanoi.

 

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