Not long ago we traveled the globe to give you the ultimate guide to gay bars, 60 of the choicest combos of cocktails and community from Provincetown to Prague. But a truism on the consistency of nightlife it’s that there is no consistency to nightlife -- and it’s time for an update.
We’ve weeded out the duds and added a few more of our faves, and now we want to know what’s your go-to for a good time? What is the ultimate gay bar in the world?
Tell us what we’re missing. Zing us for what we included. We’re whittling it down to 50 and that’s when the real fun begins…
NEW YORK CITY
281 W. 12th St.
New York, NY 10014
The heart of the West Village might be the last place on earth you'd expect to find a rrriotin' lesbian bar, but Cubbyhole has been for NY's queer lady folk – and increasingly, plenty of guys -- since it opened in '94. It's also a great neighborhood bar, and until the Beatrice Inn closed next door, it was a great place to sink your sorrows after getting rejected from that door. The ceiling is a tawdry cornucopia of party knick-knacks like Chinese lanterns model airplanes. But no matter who's there (and with dollar drinks, everyone is), the eclectic and never-ending jukebox is always the center of attention. On gay pride weekend, the party spills out onto the streets.
559 Lorimer St.
Brooklyn, NY 11211
Pretty much Brooklyn's best full-time gay bar. Decidedly low-attitude, friendly crew on both sides of the bar will help you while away the hours and get liberated. Fireplaces in the winter are fantastic, multi-level backyard rules in the summer. Sunday brunch includes free Lucky Charms, and hot Lesbian Wednesdays are off the hook. The perfect meeting place to suss out your Manhunt "date" before committing to the hot and heavy.
348 W 52nd St.
New York, NY 10019
After a long week in the big city, a drink at a sexy club in the heart of the new gay village (Hell’s Kitchen) is therapeutic. The centerpiece of this chic, brick-and-wood bi-level club is the staircase, a virtual runway that leads to the lounge, which features cabaret, comedy, karaoke, and a comfort-food bar.
50 W 17th St.
New York, NY 10001
Predictable, yes, but reliable too. Manhattan’s ever-busy gay staple shows no sign of flagging, and though you really may not care for Musical Mondays, this two-floor Chelsea staple has something for everyone -- especially when you’re wasted and not too fussy. Happy hour fans sing karaoke and swill cheap cocktails served by pec-heavy, underwear-clad bartenders, while young nightlife lovers revel in trancey Top 40 remixes until the wee hours.
1236 Dorchester Ave
Dorchester, MA 02125
This gay friendly restaurant bar serves eclectic, to-die-for food, but the mellow and welcoming ambiance set by color-changing lights, music, and nouveau decor makes for an all around great evening. The only peeve is the lack of a maitre d’ -- you’ll have to seat yourself -- and the oh-so-few male waiters.
Gifford House Bar
9 Carver St.
Provincetown, MA 02657
Located at the tip of Cape Cod, this bed and breakfast, tailored to gay vacationers but hetero friendly), appears quaint to first timers. But, being a gay couple’s destination, they know what it means to have fun. Stop by the Lobby Piano Bar for drinks and then head over to Club Purgatory to complete your night of debauchery.
NEW HAVEN, CT
130 Crown St.
New Haven, CT 06510
Southern Connecticut’s biggest gay destination draws a widespread crowd to its three sleek floors of dancing and debauchery. From Yale and Wesleyan undergrads to Bridgeport riffraff, the crowd at Gotham Citi is looking to branch out and hook up. Find a friend early, because after hours the basement turns into a hardcore goth playground with thumping house and gloomy performance art—unless you’re into that.
202 S 13th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
The City of Brotherly Love’s best gay bar is arguably its skankiest. Woody’s slutty bartenders sling flavored Stoli in plastic cups to barely legal students and lifer townies. Wednesday college nights are the best, when the bar’s (inexplicably) carpeted floors are packed with kids from U. Penn, Drexel, and Thomas Jefferson University.
2004 18th St. NW (between N California St. & N U St.)
Washington, DC 20009
D.C.’s gay A-listers assemble every Thursday night to gawk and squawk. Though the lobbyists and Supreme Court clerks that gather there are a highly compensated bunch, it seems like no one pays to play, since they’ve all slept with the hunky bartenders.
5400 N. Clark St.
Chicago, IL 60640
The main level hosts the first gay restaurant franchise of its kind, serving sandwiches, burgers, mac and cheese, and meatloaf. But, nestled above this Chicago staple is a cute purple attic laden with ample bar space, tables, disco lights, and a lone bed. Did we mention that karaoke is an option?
3339-41 N. Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60657
Attentive and, more importantly, hot model-esque guys serve your every whim -- from delicious cotton candy martinis to paninis. Walk upstairs and tilt your head back for a stunning light show in this attractive, modern venue.
800 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
Head to Spin to dance the work-related stress away and mingle with a diverse crowd. You can play pool in the back room of the chic, remodeled first floor or walk upstairs to watch TV with drink in hand. Make sure to check in on Wednesdays for $1 drinks.
3349 North Halsted
Chicago, IL 60657
Word of caution: hold hands or risk losing your partner. Sidetrack is teeming with gays and undoubtedly the best bar/club this side of Boystown. A massive venue with bars to suit any mood littered throughout (and an open terrace), Sidetrack offers delish alcoholic slurpees if you’re strapped for cash but crave a buzz.
115 N 1st St.
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1411
Eclectic drinks, minimalist décor, and amiable bartenders attract a sophisticated clientele to the Jetset.
4601 Kellogg Ave.
Cincinnati, OH 45226
Check out the cabaret, the drag, the deep house -- there’s room for everything in this sprawling club east of downtown Cincinnati. While Adonis boasts trademark Midwestern friendliness, you’ll also find plenty of heat, especially on summer Sundays when scantily clad men from throughout the region lounge around the swimming pool.
34 N Jefferson St.
Dayton, OH 45402-2008
Trannies, drag queens and kings, lesbians, gays, bis, and heteros dance the night away under one roof. Strippers, amazing drag shows, reasonably priced drinks, and theme nights hosted by talented DJs.
WEST COAST U.S.A.
LOS ANGELES, CA
4356 W. Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Perhaps the social epicenter of hard-partying Alterna-Wood, Akbar is the go-to spot for Los Angeles’s antigloss neighborhoods of Los Feliz, Silver Lake, and Echo Park. Great indie music on the jukebox, stiff drinks, hot guys, good times. When Dirty Dirty House Club takes off on Thursdays, the crowd gets pretty diverse -- the racially mixed vibe is a welcome change in the often-segregated L.A. nightscape.
692 N. Robertson Blvd.
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Perennial “Best of L.A.” champ, this 16,000-square-foot party place attracts celebs aplenty (mostly queers and straight lassies, but occasionally a famous straight lad). Famous for creative cocktails (mmm, creamsicle!) and the perfect patio, this is where many a gay Angeleno brings his or her out-of-town pals to see -- and experience -- the heart of WeHo.
SAN DIEGO, CA
Rich’s San Diego
1051 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
Especially bumping on the weekends, Rich’s is everybody’s end-up—steamy, slightly sleazy, with no small amount of cruise to a dance-pop beat.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Hole in the Wall Saloon
1369 Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA 94103-3830
Muster up the courage to walk through the dark doors of this intimidating facade, and you’ll find a friendly staff serving cheap (strong) drinks. What did your mom tell you? Looks can be deceiving.
4121 18th St.
San Franciso, CA 94114-2407
Badlands compensates for its small size with 2-for-1 drinks (at less than $5) and a lively crowd and a time-tested dance soundtrack.
SANTA FE, NM
Silver Starlight Lounge
500 Rodeo Rd.
Santa Fe, NM 87505
Yes, this bar is located in the RainbowVision gay retirement home -- er, "condominium, independent and assisted living community" -- but the Starlight offers the best damn pomegranate margarita (made by Mike) you’ll ever have.
7125 E. 5th Ave.
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
This popular gay bar for the Scottsdale and out-of-town crowd is a laid-back, flip-flop and shorts dive bar with gorgeous guys and 2-for-1 Wednesdays.
1114 Howell St. (between Boren Ave. & Minor Ave.)
Seattle, WA 98101
Off the beaten path in the Belltown neighborhood, Re-Bar is full of surprises. Patrons compete in spelling bees, bingo, and video game tournaments, but the biggest events take place on Re-Bar’s stage. With offerings ranging from comedy and Shakespeare to drag shows and a cappella performances, it’s like being in college on speed. On Saturday night DJs playing pop and hip-hop are the major draw.
1057 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Seven bars with seven different tunes in a plethora of rooms play everything from meringue to house as strippers coax dollar bills into their tight shorts. Head to the back "Bungalow Room" for lapdances from the hottest strippers -- but be wary of the tab.
435 Lincoln Ln.
Miami Beach, FL 33109
Arrive before 11:30 or suffer the line. You might be bumped or feel something unexpected in an unexpected area in Buck 15's tight quarters, but this hot spot is low-key, playing classics from Pink Floyd and the Jackson Five to Tupac and Notorious B.I.G.
The Raleigh Hotel
1775 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Miami Beach hotels boast the finest in poolside partying, and nothing tops the Raleigh. Its distinctively designed art deco pool and adorable cabana bar were the setting of several Esther Williams movies and draw an incredibly attractive mix of locals and visitors. The Raleigh’s Sunday Soiree pool party (noon-10 P.M.) is an especially popular place to slurp copious amounts of hangover-battling bloodies.
130 S. Floyd St.
Louisville, KY 40202-1206
Sip a few drinks, dance, and get some air on the second floor open-air patio, but don't leave early. Stay until 2:30 A.M. for one of the best drag shows around. It'll be worth your wait.
1287B Glenwood Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30316
Attracting a diverse range of gays (think jock, emo, nerdy, and trendy) and non-gays, Mary's is home to strong mixed drinks, karaoke, theme parties, and personable bartenders -- not your typical gay club.
Oil Can Harry's
211 W 4th St.
Austin, TX 78701
A little nip/tuck classed up Oil Can Harry’s faster than jail did Paris Hilton, but this institution hasn’t lost its edge. DJs spin quirky, creative sets (Rihanna segueing to Ultra Naté to Robyn) while pretty people swig Cosmopolitans, cowboys play pool, and University of Texas students go wild.
3912 Cedar Springs Rd.
Dallas, TX 75219
The bartenders are shirtless in this country gay bar and strangers will drag you onto the dance floor for shirtless line-dancing and two-stepping.
465 - 467 Church Street
Walking in, every inch of your body will be scrutinized by other patrons but your attention will turn to the TVs playing man-on-man porn. There isn't a place to dance per say, but events from drag shows to "Best Chest" contests will keep you entertained.
1296 Rue Amherst
Montreal, QC H2L 3K8
Parking gets steamy with gorgeous guys dancing shoulder to shoulder to techno with exceptional lighting, sound, and international DJs.
Open Thursday through Saturday, three floors of music play Top 40 tunes and French dance hits, while a drag queen will pour a shot straight into your mouth for $2.
MEXICO AND S. AMERICA
Venustiano Carranza #290
Colonia Emiliano Zapata 48380
Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, México
An attractive and romantic pool sits in the center of Club Manana, but a word of advice: don’t swim. This venue offers a bar and stage at each end of the pool, plus an indoor lounge with go-go dancers galore.
483 Paseo de la Reforma Distrito Federal
Ciudad de Mexico, DF 11000
The grand facade of this colonial-style church belies the sensory overload that waits inside. A Br’er Rabbit impersonator serves watermelon slices, a laser light show illuminates the spectacular go-go boys on stilts, and a melange of high-energy beats emanate from the many nooks and crannies in this multilevel party kingdom. Fridays and Saturdays boast a raw dance party reminiscent of New York’s Limelight, complete with an all-star lineup of DJs (Offer Nissim, Peter Rauhofer). An in-house bodega serves up hot tacos and lavish fruit cocktails, and siesta rooms are available for the faint-hearted.
Federico Lacroze 3455
Buenos Aires 1426
Held every Thursday at the Roxy, Club 69 reeks of rabbit-hole mischief, where burlesque meets ninja turtles, and trannies and showgirls show off. Performances include break-dancers, trapeze artists, and magic shows, and electro-infused beats tickle the ears of the straight, gay, and straight-up pijos in the crowd.
Rua Raul Pompeia, 102
Copacabana (Posto 6)
Rio de Janeiro
(+55 21) 2513-4993
Walking into Le Boy, if the packed disco floor boogying to South American techno doesn’t intimidate you, you’ll be in for a surprise by its sheer size. At one end a balcony overlooks a stage prominently situated at the front. The bar nestled at the center of the dance floor requires not money, but drink tickets that can be purchased at the door.
Rua Guaicurus, 324 - Lapa
At the heart of the "second Carnival" that is Brazil’s Gay Pride Weekend lies a São Paulo nightlife giant, the Week. You’ll find that the venue is more than a nightclub -- it’s host to a lifestyle.
102, Avenue des Champs Elysées 75008
Oui, you’ll probably end up shelling out a thick wad of euros at this heaving Paris megaclub, situated on the superchic Champs-Elysées. But once you get inside -- and we suggest arriving very, very late -- you’ll be greeted by bouncing fashionistas, muscular strippers, and, of course, sashaying drag queens. Resident DJs include heavyweights like Paul Van Dyk and Deep Dish, and the fete rages on until 6 or 7 A.M.
23, Rue Vielle du Temple
The Marais 75004
Le Raidd is an enduring favorite in the cruisy Marais district. Its most famous feature is the Plexiglas shower stall above the DJ booth, where naked boys rhythmically rinse all night long. A good evening starts during happy hour in the streetside patio and ends downstairs on a couch in the dark lounge with a new Parisian friend.
Le Bar Central
33 Rue Vielle du Temple 75004
Le Bar Central, the most famous gay men's bar in Paris, has an annex of six rooms in its archaic 300-year-old building.
The Polo Lounge
84 Wilson Street
Merchant City , Glasgow City Centre G1 1UZ
Glasgow -- like its sister city Edinburgh -- has a small gay scene in proportion to its size. This is because its bars overall tend to be mixed. Of the five or six gay bars or clubs in the city, the Polo is probably the most popular, catering to an upmarket crowd—or at least as upmarket as Glasgow gets. Polo is stylish downstairs, with a warren of dance floors and seating areas.
Royal Vauxhall Tavern
372 Kennington Ln.
London, UK, SE11 5HY
There has been a pub on the site of the Royal Vauxhall Tavern since 1893. It was erected on the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, one of the most decadent cruising grounds in the Victorian era. Even then it was a focus for performance, camp, and drag—which remain central to the pub to this day. From cabaret and comedy nights and bingo and live-music evenings to its legendary Saturday night event, Duckie, and the last defiant gasp of the weekend on Sundays, the RVT is an institution attracting a wide range of gay locals and visitors from across London and beyond.
Under The Arches, Villiers Street
London, Wc2N 6NG
Heaven came out in 1979 -- a pioneer in the formerly underground gay nightlife of London -- and continues to flourish despite its age. The venue caters to a young gay crowd jumping to the latest house music and boasts celebrity performances by Cher, Billie Ray Martin, and Grace Jones.
Hairy pink wallpaper cushions this sweaty packed depository for tourists and students. Roses is a must-stop where drinks are affordable, bartenders get slushy drunk, and partygoers will sell a little something to ensure a good time.
Motzstraße 19 10777
The crowd is young, rugged (think T-shirts, flannel, and leather), and über-naughty at Berlin’s classic gay den. It’s so notorious that a German tabloid reported the city’s flamboyant mayor, Klaus Wowereit, knew the exact date the doors of its dark, shadowy back room opened. (He couldn’t, however, recall the year World War II ended.)
Kerkstraat 52 Amsterdam
The Cockring and Exit are two old Dutch masters of the thumping gay scene, but Church, which opened in 2008, is determined to shore up Amsterdam’s bad-to-the-bone status with a calendar of nonstop kink that includes Wednesday night’s Naked Bar (dress code: buck naked), Friday’s underwear party, and Sex on Sunday (free condoms and, um, coat check). You won’t go home feeling dirty, though; there are showers downstairs for that after-party scrub-down.
An antidote to the cruisier scene, this queer Sunday night underground dance party (doors open at 11, but the line forms early) is fittingly held in a former basement squat and offers the best flashbacks to Amsterdam’s flower-power glory days. That means the city’s artiest insider crowd, an eclectic playlist (indie to incomprehensible), and the most altruistic bar tab in town, since all profits go to worthy gay causes.
Axel Sky Bar
Aribau 33 08011
Perched atop the Hotel Axel, which bills itself as homo-friendly, Sky Bar commands stunning views over the Catalan city, and it’s also handily situated by the hotel’s pool and Jacuzzi. The bar hosts a party every year to welcome the start of the summer, and although it has begun to show a bit of wear and tear, it’s still a hot place to cool down under the Spanish sun. Located in the Eixample, the heart of the gay quarter of Barcelona, Sky Bar is perfect for kicking off an evening or hanging out all night.
Calle Amor de Dios 31
While this gay club’s décor leaves something to be desired, its thrice-weekly parties pack in the hot Andalusian locals. Stick around for the 2 a.m. curtain call with the city’s finest drag acts. Just don’t mention the Macarena.
Calle Alameda de Hercules 93
This hole-in-the-wall dance bar in the heart of the city’s thriving gay strip, La Alameda de Hercules, is tinted with classic Spanish décor—Damascus wallpaper and sultry red lights—perfect for dancing to hard techno beats.
7 Soganci Sokak (off Siraselviler Caddesi)
This cozy tavern is tucked away in a quaint alley in the bohemian Cihangir neighborhood. During the week it’s perfect for intimate tête-à-têtes, though once Friday rolls around, bartenders shower the bar top with whiskey and set it afire to the delight of a mixed crowd of Turks and tourists—guys, girls, trannies—who usually get caught up in sing-alongs to golden oldies and international hits.
Metzgergasse 3 CH-8001
Boasting two floors, Cranberry Bar attracts a young and old, gay and lesbian crowd while showcasing expert bartenders who offer novel and classic drink creations to satiate any palette -- all the bartender requires is your favorite flavor (and money of course).
Třebízského 4a Praha
Half a vintage car protrudes from a hunger-inducing orange wall in this atmospheric hot-spot. Club Termix must be doing something right to keep parties kindled till dawn.
Silom Soi 2
Tourists, expats, and locals all converge on DJ Station, where admission is the price of a drink, and you get a drink ticket with admission. That’s justice. The space consists of three industrial metallic levels and the dance floor is always in full swing. Thai boys have the taste for a new face even when it’s an old face. At DJ Station fresh meat is ageless, and there’s so much body contact on the dance floor, one wonders if the sexy locals are looking to dance, find love, or pick a pocket. Probably all those things, but who cares? It’s Bangkok.
Silom Soi 2/1
Down a dark and gritty alley in Patpong, look for a brightly illuminated sign reading G.O.D. (Guys on Display). This three-level club is packed with stages, cages, and zebra-patterned couches. G.O.D.’s notorious drag shows get going after 5 A.M. and continue into the late hours of the morning.
Vertigo at Banyan Tree
21/100 South Sathon Road Sathon
Bangkok 10120 Thailand
Situated 61 floors above the bustling streets of Bangkok, Vertigo restaurant’s Moon Bar is the highest outdoor bar in the Asia-Pacific region. Settle in for stunning views, sumptuous cocktails, and an unexpectedly inventive barbecue menu. Don’t let the setting sun distract you from finding visiting corporate executives flashing black Amex cards and suggestive smiles.
Pegs ‘n’ Pints
Chanakya Lane (behind Akbar Bhawan)
Delhi’s queer chameleons get karma points for coming out of the closet on this Tuesday-only gay night (the only regular public gay venue outside the city’s cruisey parks). MTV India and Bollywood showstoppers play on a loungey level overlooking the small dance floor.
Fusion Bar at Dwarika's Hotel
Battisputali Kathmandu, Nepal
An unassuming valet stands guard outside a small door on one of Kathmandu’s busiest streets, and just beyond the door lies Dwarika’s Hotel, a cluster of the most painstakingly handcrafted terra-cotta- and wood-adorned buildings in the city. Poolside at the two-level bar is the best spot for evening cocktails and live music. The crowd, though mostly straight, is almost exclusively expat, so if there’s a well-heeled homo traveling through Kathmandu at the same time you are, chances are he’ll swing through here.
5 Bao Khanh St. near Hoan Kiem Lake in the bar district of the Old Hanoi Quarter
In Hanoi’s French Quarter the solid-oak bar at GC (Golden Cock) greets you from the street while a huge pool table dominates a back room full of expats, transvestites, and hairless Hanoi hipsters. Farther back is a lovely open-air garden. A word of caution: GC not only closes early but is also often raided by local police—even if at last visit they seemed more interested in the pool stick–straddling transvestites than in pimping bribes.
2C Thi Sach St.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
One of the oldest clubs in the former Saigon, AN is the unofficial after-hours spot in the city. Amiable pimps and local prostitutes shoot pool as hordes of foreigners drink tequila and party until dawn. The best night for those looking for action is Tuesday.
Your Local Bar
The only venue that you'll vouch for is undeniably your personal favorite, whether it offers the best beer, liquor or good time. So send us a description of your notable watering hole. Does it stage the raunchiest burlesque? Does it offer the most bang for your buck? Are the burly bartenders delectable? Tell us all about it and you might see it listed in our next Greatest Gay Bars in the World.