While Copenhagen’s nightlife scene doesn’t get a lot of attention, there’s a vibrant and varied scene waiting to serve up a well-made cocktail or craft brew in an intimate environment. The country’s lax drinking laws mean just about everyone in town is down for a drink, but there is a big barrier to entry: the sticker shock that comes with most bar tabs.
Bartenders at the city’s best cocktail bars take their drinks as seriously as their chef counterparts take their food menus and the prices often reflect that attention to detail. But it’s not just cocktails and Carlsburg here, the city is also spoiled with natural wine bars, with more popping up like daisies each year. Whether you want to toast at a chic bar, taste an orange wine, or enjoy some live music, Copenhagen has something for you.
The bar scene in Copenhagen doesn’t get the attention it might deserve from discerning awards lists, but that helps preserve the "come as you are" ambiance the city prides itself on. As the chef’s proclivity for experimenting with ingredients in the kitchen moves to the bars, there are well-made classics and innovative sips with local ingredients awaiting.
Here are some of the best places to drink in the city:
- The Jane: Everyone who has stuck around Copenhagen for more than a week will have a great story to tell from a night at The Jane, a cocktail bar in the heart of the city. It’s the kind of place you go for DJ sets and dancing, killer cocktails, or to catch-up with a friend. The mid-century modern vibe, with Chesterfield sofas and leather-bound books, keeps things intimate and relaxed, and there are hidden passageways and a big dance floor.
- Mikkeller: This hoppy hometown hero is on tap at most bars and restaurants across town but their high ABV pints are worth seeking out. Mikkeller Baghaven is an industrial space/science lab at Reffen that focuses on sour beers, fruity ales, and more. The space shines in the summer when an outdoor patio pops up and overlooks the water.
- Lidkoeb: The three floors of this lively Vesterbro bar has something for everyone. A weekends-only whiskey bar takes over the third floor, and there’s a courtyard in the back. As with almost every restaurant or bar in Copenhagen, the menu changes seasonally at Lidkoeb, but a perennially popular drink is Flottenheimer made with gin, Noilly Prat vermouth, rhubarb brine, cardamom, and grapefruit soda.
- Ruby: If you’re going to spend $19 on a cocktail, it’s worth your money to spend it at Ruby, one of the best cocktail bars in town. Ruby finds it’s home in an 18th-century townhouse that was a book press, private bank, and the Danish Spirit Producers’ founding location. The vibe is unpretentious and intimate, making it the perfect place to slowly sip cocktails from the seasonal menu.
- Balderdash: With non-traditional ingredients like deer heart and foie gras, it’s easy to confuse the bartenders with chefs. In addition to sourcing small-batch distillers, the team works with food producers too. In the height of summer strawberry season, a menu favorite uses the finest Danish strawberries with foie gras distillate, strawberries, bourbon, and bitters. They also have potent boozy milkshakes.
When the sun sets at 4 p.m. in the winter, staying out until 9 p.m. can feel like a late night out. That said, the one-more-drink crowd has a number of good options, from dives to high-brow spots. In the summer, most after-dinner drinkers flood the city’s public spaces, waterfronts, and outdoor patios to enjoy the extra sunlight.
Here’s where to go when you don’t want the fun to stop, or when you can’t shake jet-lag:
- Andy’s Bar: With a weekend call time of 7 a.m. (5 a.m. during the week), Andy’s Bar is the place for just one more drink. It’s a quintessential dive with well-worn wooden benches, faded curtains, and sun-faded posters. Andy’s Bar started as a restaurant and during World War II became a hangout for American G.I.s, but today, it draws a mix of older Danish men and young students. Sure, it’s possible to order a rail G&T but your best bet is grabbing a beer and people watching.
- Gensyn Bar: With a name translating to “see you again,” Gensyn fully embraces its status as a great neighborhood bar. The bar is stocked with local beers and spirits, including their own Gensyn Gin made by neighboring Frederiksberg Distillery. The exclusive gin makes a G&T an obvious good choice but don’t sleep on the old fashioned, made with a trio of whiskeys infused with bunt rye bread
- Curfew: If you approach the night with the attitude that you’re on vacation and anything goes, you might find yourself at Curfew. Small high-top tables, comfortable lounge seats, and relaxed bar seating keep things intimate. The changing cocktail menu is lengthy, featuring classics, alcohol-free options, and creative concoctions.
The summer and winter jazz festivals are the musical highlights of the year, but if you’re looking for live music throughout the year, here are some top spots:
- Brønnum: Next to the Royal Danish Theatre and around the corner from Nyhavn, Brønnum has been an elegant reprieve for more than 125 years. Once a hangout for Hans Christian Anderson (the bar is around the corner from his boyhood home), today it’s an outstanding bar with great late-afternoon jazz sessions. The menu has hearty snacks, a great champagne list, and even Cuban cigars.
- Rust: Copenhagen isn’t a haven for clubbing or EDM shows like other European capitals but Rust is one of the best spots in town for clubbing and local concerts. Located in the cool Nørrebro neighborhood, Rust plays hosts to indie acts, hip-hop, and electronica but opens up to be a multilevel club on Friday and Saturday nights.
- La Fontaine: There’s something happening every night at Copenhagen’s oldest jazz bar but the best nights for live music are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights jazz sessions. The bar doesn’t open until 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. but keeps things going until 5 a.m. Scheduled acts Friday to Sunday play from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Cloudy pours, orange hues, low intervention, biodynamic, fun, and unfussy. Welcome to the world of natural wine. If this is your first time branching out from “normal” wine or you’re on the hunt for the perfect Georgian bio, Copenhagen’s incredible scene has it all.
- Den Vandrette: This indoor-outdoor natural wine bar (or is it a restaurant with a great wine list?) is a perfect ten. There’s a cozy basement level that’s ideal for winter and a gorgeous patio a stone’s throw away from Nyhaven that manages never to feel touristy. Add in a top-notch food menu and it’s easy to see why the F&B crew in town hangs out here.
- La Banchina: Look for La Banchina in a restored boathouse along the Refshaleøen harbor. The boathouse seats 16 people, so in the summer locals sun themselves on the bar’s wooden dock and pop up for sips of natural wine between swimming sessions.
- Rosforth & Rosforth: Oenophiles will already have Rosforth & Rosforth (known as the bar “under the bridge”) bookmarked and have spots for a Saturday tasting reserved before arriving in Copenhagen. Everything is natural and low-intervention here, and the owners import more than 10,000 bottles each year on an engineless sailboat to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Pompette: Translating to tipsy in French, this bistro-style wine shop and bar has one of the biggest collections of natural wines in Denmark, including a full stock from Austria’s Gut Oggau. There’s also a nice selection of cheese and charcuterie to sop up the wine.
- Rødder & Vin: Run by the effervescent Solfinn, who hails from the Faroe Islands, Rødder & Vin is like the “Cheers” of wine bars in Copenhagen. Even if you don’t know a soul, Solfinn manages the communal table that dominates the bar, making connections between guests and talking about natural wines in a way that both newbies and seasoned drinkers will find appealing.
Tips for Going Out in Copenhagen
- Having a drink on the street is legal and Copenhagen and it’s a big part of the after-work culture, especially in summer.
- It is illegal to bike while intoxicated.
- There is no Uber in Demark but taxis are available 24/7. The Dantaxi app has an Uber-like function if you’d like to call a taxi in advance.
- Public transportation is available late into the night. It’s safe and clean just be mindful of pickpockets.
- Tips are not expected.
- Last call at bars is between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.
- Unless it’s Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, don’t assume a cocktail bar is open.
- You must be 18 to order alcohol at a bar or restaurant, and 16 to buy it in a shop. There are no restrictions on those 17 and under who drink in a public park and the Danish police don’t both too much unless drinkers are out of control or starting fights.