Antigua, Guatemala is a great town to spend your days lazing in the sun on a rooftop terrace or walking around seeing the sights. The city is home to many beautiful ruins dating back to the time of the Spanish conquistadors and has a Latin flair of its own. Whether you’re looking for an educational vacation to soak up some ancient history or just a little R&R, Antigua is the town for you. You can easily find whatever it is your heart desires in this UNESCO world heritage site, from high-end shopping to memorable sightseeing and meals that you will never forget. This article, however, is for the drinkers in the audience.
If you’re a drinking man (or woman), and I assume you are because you’re still reading this, then Antigua is definitely the place for you. I’ve met people down there that went for a weekend beer twenty-years ago and ended up opening bars that you can still sit in today to enjoy your libations. Below, I have covered a few of my favorite spots to belly-up to the bar and get lost in conversation with the most interesting people Latin America has to offer.
Monoloco is an expat bar with a few American beers on tap, football, and futbol always on one of their three T.V.s and the best damn Cuban sandwich I’ve ever found anywhere in the world. Seriously, I have dreams about this sandwich and all of the pleasure I derive from each and every smoky bite of goodness it has to offer. Now that I think of it, Monoloco is a pretty good bar with a damn good sandwich problem, in fact, the sandwich is the entire reason I put it on this list. Well, the sandwich and an awesome bartender that works there named Stevie, yep, like Stevie Nicks. She’s a great company to pal around with while you enjoy your awesome sandwich and one of the American-style IPA’s they have on draught. If you’re a sports fan and you don’t want to miss the big game while you’re in Guatemala, I’d recommend you drop in Monoloco to get your fix. But also, the sandwich though, it really is just that good.
2. The Illegal Mezcal Bar
The Illegal Mezcal Bar is a place I hold dear to my heart and blame for many of the most phenomenal hangovers I’ve ever had during my visits to La Antigua. Alejandro is the man to look; ask for anything from a cold Gallo beer to a specialty craft cocktail, not to mention he has beautiful long black hair that’ll make all the girls go wild. On the weekends they always have great local bands, ranging from rock n’ roll to electronica, there is always going to be funky beat to move your hips to. Personally, I love to drop by the bar on a sunny afternoon to begin my day drinking with Ale. He’s a great conversationalist that can talk you under the table on any subject of your choosing, from rocket surgery to the geopolitical state of Donald Trump’s orangeness. Whatever your taste, he’s got something for you to drink in. It’s also worth mentioning that the regular clientele at this bar are some of the best people I’ve ever met. Whatever you do or don’t do, make sure to put the Illegal Mezcal Bar at the top of your list.
As the name might suggest, Snug is a little, cozy neighborhood-style bar that caters mostly to expats. As the name might not suggest, it is a good old fashioned Irish bar with some serious characters that inhabit the barstools. This is the best place in Antigua to nurse your hangover with classic English breakfast and if it’s that kind of morning, maybe an Irish breakfast. For reference, the Irish Breakfast is essentially just whiskey. There are variations on it, but let’s just say whiskey to keep it simple. They have great food at a great price and the parishioners are a group of super-solid guys that will instantly make you feel at home.
4. The Londoner Pub
The Londoner is my favorite spot in the city to catch really great live folk music on the weekends and also to play and sing during their open mic every Wednesday. As you’d expect, there are plenty of great beers on tap and enough Scotch to drown a small elephant. The crowd here tends to vary but on the open mic nights, you’ll find the best of the service industry crowd skulking around and rubbing elbows with the rest of the expat’s living around the city. Stop in for a quick beer and find yourself stuck to the barstool, enthralled in great conversation for the rest of the night.
5. Café’ No Se’
Café’ No Se’; God, where to even begin with this place. This is absolutely, positively, without a doubt the hippest bar in the entirety of the Americas. Yes, all of the Americas, north, south, central and sideways. Walk into this dimly-lit, bordello of a bar and you’ll never look at any other bar the same again. You’ll go home, back to your favorite haunt and you will forever compare it to Café’ No Se’. They have the best live music every night and you’d be hard-pressed to find a night when this place isn’t packed to the max with awesome people. The bar has a heavy bohemian vibe to it and sitting inside at the bar or one of the booths, I’ve had endless, great conversations with some of the coolest-looking smart people that inhabit planet Earth. Take one of the four seats at the bar, have a Victoria beer and a shot of rum for roughly $3. While you are seated there, learn about the universe from one of the very talented bartenders and throw away any hopes you had of returning home a normal person. Seriously, I love this place. This bar shows rock ‘n roll how to party and I’ve never gone in once without knowing that it is the only place in the world I ever want to be at.
So, there you go. There’s the best advice I can give you on how to properly enjoy La Antigua, Guatemala and if you can’t take it from here, that’s all on you. Buy the ticket, take the ride and try to not come home with any crazy new tattoos you don’t remember getting. This is the place to play among Spanish colonial ruins with new friends you’re sure to find behind every barroom door. Ah, Antigua, how I love you.