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The Best Quiet Bars in Lisbon’s Loudest Neighborhood

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The entrance to speakeasy Foxtrot is easy to spot when the streets are clear, but much more difficult when crowds are out and about.

Photo by Ben Hope / Unsplash

The entrance to speakeasy Foxtrot is easy to spot when the streets are clear, but much more difficult when crowds are out and about.

In Bairro Alto, you can go on an epic pub crawl and still hear yourself think.

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Finding a place to dance and drink into the wee hours is not an issue in Bairro Alto, one of the hippest neighborhoods in Lisbon, Portugal. Flashing lights and rambunctious patrons spill out of bars and onto the street as deejays blast their beats to entice more crowds. But sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the noise and sip a drink in peace, maybe even chat with the person sitting a couple stools over. Consider these four bars cozy oases in the boisterous corridors of Bairro Alto.

Foxtrot

Ringing a doorbell lends a speakeasy-like feel to this swanky watering hole. Once the door opens, the host will show you to a table—or, if you’re lucky, to the bar where you can watch bartenders whip up fabulous cocktails. Jazzy tunes permeate the vintage-inspired space, getting progressively louder once the bar begins to fill up around 11 p.m. The kitchen stays open until 3 a.m., perfect if you’d like steak and fries to accompany that Smoked Negroni. The menu also features more playful cocktails, such as the namesake Foxtrot with fermented pineapple and orange peels, crystalized ginger, cocoa bitters, and a sorbet of black currants, grapefruit, and honey. Tv. Santa Teresa 28

Part mixologist, part mad scientist, the Double 9 bartender prepares a tea-infused concoction.

Double 9

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Tea time has never been quite as inventive as it is at Double 9, the bar and restaurant attached to 9 Hotel Mercy. The cocktails here are all tea based and made with a seemingly infinite array of infusions and flavor combinations. Try the bar’s twist on a classic White Russian, made with hazelnut liqueur and red berry tea, or order the 2017 Lisbon Cocktail Week winner, Tales of Thailand 2.0: tequila reposado, agave, kumquat, kaffir lime, and seaweed tea. Comfort and conversation are valued here: A sign at the bar counter proclaims NO WI-FI, TALK TO EACH OTHER. Dark leather seats, hardwood floors, and warm lighting make it far too easy to spend hours at this sophisticated yet casual spot. R. da Misericórdia 78

Patrons enjoy the night air outside Maria Caxuxa.

Maria Caxuxa

This cake-factory-turned-local-bar has the comfy vibe of a living room furnished by roommates past and present. The myriad tiles, marble, and art present an endearing mishmash of textures and colors. The quirky, homey feel persists even as you squeeze a party of four around a table meant for two. Vintage sofas and live music that includes acoustic guitar and electronica add even more character. While waiting for your capirinha, check out the posters touting upcoming concerts and workshops. The cocktails aren’t groundbreaking, but that’s OK: The mellow community of locals and visitors is the real draw here. R. da Barroca 6-12

Fuschia lights in antique glass cabinets radiate throughout the main room at the Old Pharmacy.

The Old Pharmacy

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Stepping inside this converted space is disorienting in the best way: Is it a wine bar or a pharmacy? The original glass cabinets glow with different colored lights and display wine bottles instead of pill bottles; repurposed wine barrels serve as tables; bartenders and servers wear white shirts silk-screened with the image of a stethoscope. Depending on your choice of medicine, the answer to the bar or pharmacy question could be both. The selection of more than 200 Portuguese wines means there’s definitely room to pick your poison. Don’t hesitate to order snacks for the table—it’s hard to go wrong with sardines in olive oil or a cheese plate. The space is parsed into a handful of small intimate rooms, so even when the crowd around the bar counter is three people deep, the table areas remain quiet enough to talk without yelling. R. do Diário de Notícias 73–81

>>Next: Beyond Bacalhau: Tasting the Iconic Foods of Portugal

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