The Best Cocktail Bars In Munich

And not a biergarten in sight

Germany's beer culture is an integral part of its history—after all, it's the fourth-largest beer-producing nation in the world. But although it's known for its brews, the country is spurring a new movement in cocktails, too.

Leading the charge is Munich, a city normally associated with Oktoberfest—and one that's emerged as the epicenter of Germany's mixology scene, which embraces new and inventive flavors and techniques. At these five bars, you'll be able to taste firsthand why cocktail enthusiasts are particularly excited about Munich.

① Zephyr

Set near the banks of the Isar River, the delightfully minimalist Zephyr is where you will find a top selection of gins blended with fresh ingredients like local fruits, herbs and flowers. Helmed by Lukas Motejzik, the bar puts an unconventional spin on homemade drinks, using things like cucumber-dill juice, sesame oil or banana-parsley purée as the base for cocktails. Garnishes are similarly kicked up a notch: torched meringue inside a halved passion fruit, a bushel of fresh basil or mint, fragrant coffee beans, or charred cinnamon sticks.

②  Herzog

Located in Munich's city center, Herzog Restaurant & Bar is one of the city's newest drinking dens. Inside, there's a convivial lounge area where a black concrete bar counter takes center stage. Order drinks like the Jägermeister-based Auntie Hula, made with honey, cherry, mashed pineapple and dark berry, or the gin-based Far Away Gimlet, made with shiso leaf, rhubarb and ginger, all served in an owl chalice—feathers included.

③ Sophia's Restaurant & Bar

Tucked within The Charles Hotel in central Munich, Sophia's Restaurant & Bar features well-balanced and imaginative drinks created by Roman Kern. Kern reinvents the classics by mixing cocktails with natural essences like dried fruits and vegetables, powdered liqueurs, frozen herbs and pickling spices. Schisho, a vodka-based cocktail with chile, pomegranate, fresh lime, coconut and an egg white is a real standout. But if you don't see anything that speaks to you, just ask: Kern is known to create bespoke cocktails upon request.  

④ Schumann's Les Fleurs du Mal

A popular post-opera haunt located on the first floor of Schumann's Bar am Hofgarten, Schumann's Les Fleurs du Mal is one of the most established bars in Munich. With a single 27-foot-long table crafted out of a single walnut tree, the decor fosters conversation, as does Dietmar Petri's impressive cocktail menu, consisting of so much variety (150 types of whiskies, absinthes, cognacs and other rare spirits) that you'll inevitably need to ask your neighbor for some advice. May offerings feature unusual twists, such as a carrot espuma or balsamic reduction.

⑤ Goldene Bar

Built in 1937 and located in Haus der Kunst, Goldene Bar features an ornate outdoor terrace and an extensive cocktail list that's attracted discerning cocktail aficionados in droves. Expect homemade bitters, soda and an array of special syrups like chamomile, passion fruit and agave. Exemplary drinks include the hot buttered coconut rum, made with hot coconut water, Falernum syrup and homemade herbed-and-spiced butter.

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Michaela Trimble is a nomadic travel writer and photographer previously based in New York. Follow her on the road on Instagram at @michaelatrimble.