Bars in Macau that are actually worth visiting can probably be counted on the fingers of your hands. We’ve been selective and just used one hand. These selections features everything from nightlife and wine lounges under the feet of UNESCO world heritage sights to bars where you can meet the locals and the obligatory casino hot spot.
On the question of what to drink, it very much depends on what you feel. Beer is popular, and Carlsberg, San Miguel, and Tsing Tao are all widely available. Spirits are expensive, especially imported whiskeys and vodkas, while local knockoffs and imports from India will have you running for the bathroom. The city’s Portuguese heritage means there is often a very decent—sometimes excellent—selection of fine wines available at very good prices.
Set in Taipa Village, the Old Taipa Tavern is the sort of sleepy local pub you’d find on the back roads of Cork. The out of the way location is certainly part of the charm, and it means most of the customers are regulars, consisting largely of local expats. It has an everyone-knows-your-name community club friendliness that’s missing from most Macau pubs. Go here to sip a few pints, dive into a newspaper and get into an argument about politics. Other attractions include occasional live music, comedy, and Irish-style pub grub, including breakfast.
Something unique for a city used to dive bars or lifeless casino lounges, Macau Soul is an upmarket wine bar with a passion for jazz. Set in the heart of Macau, under the shadow of St Paul’s—an area that was once bereft of a decent place to have a drink—Macau Soul is fitted with fine art, stained glass windows and a wine collection that is nothing short of stellar. Yet, it doesn’t feel snobby. The owners are welcoming, the crowd friendly, and the setting cozy, and the live jazz and other music are usually excellent. There is also a very decent menu, though prices can be prohibitive.
If you can go to the original McSorley’s in New York, do. If you can go to the other McSorley’s in Hong Kong, do. If you can’t, come to Macau's McSorley's, which is located inside the Venetian Macao. Sitting inside a casino is a hard way for any pub to create atmosphere—the crowd is just taking a break between gambling—but there are still plenty of reasons to recommend McSorley's. its deep woods and wrought iron may not fit well inside the shiny Venetian, but this no-nonsense backstreet boozer remains atmospheric. Its McSorley (real) Ale is another excellent reason to pull up a stool as are live sporting events on the big screen and a fantastic selection of pub grub.
Right in the heart of Macau’s nightlife hub, Moonwalker Bar is one of the strip's more famous and more permanent residents. If you’re looking for a crowd and a chance to swap phone numbers, Moonwalker is the place to bring your little black book. The back-lit spirit shelves and exposed pipes look like 1980’s Miami, but that’s excused by the sheer enthusiasm of the patrons and regular cover bands from the Philippines who belt out rock and pop classics. The action tends to start late and end early—in the morning.
There are probably better Portuguese restaurants in Macau than Fernando’s—Miramar springs to mind—but the al fresco bar here with its lazy fans, bamboo seats and expat transplants is an absolute gem. Popular with the local Portuguese community, locals, and tourists alike, there’s sangria, Portuguese beer, and an excellent selection of Iberian wines to choose from. The laid-back, lazy ambience is straight out of the Algarve.