If you crave more than a generic corner pub or bar, don your explorer’s hat and quench your thirst at these spots, which happen to be located in the farthest-flung corners of the world. Should you make your way to these barstools, you’ll be rewarded with epic tales to share for the rest of your life.
SubSix – Maldives
It’s not quite Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, but it could certainly pass for The Little Mermaid’s splashy digs. Enveloped in the beauty of marine life, this posh underwater restaurant and bar belongs to Niyama Private Islands Maldives (a Per Aquum Retreats, Resorts and Residences property) on the island of Huluwalu in the Maldives. Since SubSix is located 500-metres offshore, you’ll first need to get to the luxury resort via a 40-minute seaplane ride from Malé International Airport.
Once at Niyama, board a speedboat to SubSix’s dock; it takes about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how choppy the water is. Once there, you’ll descend a grand staircase six metres below sea level. Pull up a seat at the clam-inspired Subsix Bar and marvel at the majesty of aquatic life careening by, such as hawksbill turtles, moray eels, and rainbow-hued fish. Although the menu of sips is extensive, it seems most appropriate to pop a bottle of Dom Perignon and toast your surreal surroundings with a glass of bubbly.
Albatross Bar – Tristan da Cunha island
The journey to Edinburgh of the Seven Seas on Tristan da Cunha island, a village considered the most remote on earth, requires a week-long trip on a supply ship that leaves Capetown only 12 times a year. Called “The Settlement” by locals, the town is built on a rocky flat beside Queen Mary’s Peak, an active volcano.
It features one bar, the Albatross, which is a taproom inside the local common house, Prince Philip Hall. Check the website for regularly updated photos of local merriment.
Three Camel Lodge – Mongolia
The vast, cold, and rocky landscape of the Gobi Desert, considered the world’s fifth-largest, is home to the Thirsty Camel Bar. Located in Omnogobi Aimag (South Gobi Province), the southernmost province in Mongolia, the bar is surrounded by such natural wonders as snow leopards, Gobi bears, desert basins, and the Mongol Altai Mountain Range. The weather is volatile and given to extremes: Winds can cause drastic shifts in temperature, ranging from minus 4.4 degrees Celsius in the winter to 45 degrees Celsius in the summer, and the temperature can shift as much as 17 degrees Celsius in 24 hours.
Those who can brave the climate will need to have patience as well; getting to Three Camel Lodge requires a 90-minute flight from Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia, to Dalanzadgad, on the edge of the Gobi Desert. From there, it is another 90-minute drive by off-road vehicle to reach the lodge in Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. To celebrate your arrival, whisky is in order at the Thirsty Camel Bar, which boasts a premium selection from Scotland and Japan, as well as craft distillery bottles from the US.
Faraday Bar – Antarctica
If you don’t fancy human companionship, you can make pals with the penguins neighbouring this bar, located on an island five miles off the Antarctic Peninsula and surrounded by massive mountains, snow, and sheets of ice. Once a British Antarctic expeditionary base (which dates back to 1947), Vernadsky Research Base was purchased by Ukraine in 1996.
If you’re not a scientist, you can get there through a tourism outfitter such as One Ocean Expeditions, which can make a pit stop at the base. Serving the rotating cast of scientists and staff on the base, Faraday is considered the southernmost drinking hole in the world. It’s festooned with Ukranian and British flags and other knick-knack and offers a cool factor (literally and figuratively) while you down your US$3 shot of vodka that was brewed on-site.
Christian’s Cafe – Pitcairn Island
Christian’s Cafe is located in Adamstown, the capital and sole settlement of the volcanic Pitcairn Islands in the South Pacific. (Population: about 50.) Under the leadership of legendary mutineer Fletcher Christian, a collection of rebel sailors from the H.M.S. Bounty settled on the rugged landscape in 1790, along with Tahitian companions. Hundreds of years ago, the town had a reputation as a village of violent drunks, but the island’s residents now keep to themselves.
Their sole bar began serving alcohol in 2009, keeps minimal hours, and is open only on Fridays after 6.30pm. Reaching Adamstown remains a challenge because there are no flights. You must come by boat, and resources are scarce. (If you plan on staying more than two weeks, you’ll need a licence from the governor). However, should you succeed in your quest for a drink here, pull up a chair and chat with the locals. They speak Pitkern, a mixture of 18th century English, Tahitian, and sailors’ patois.
Camp Kalahari – Botswana
Calling the bar at Camp Kalahari an “oasis” is fitting, as it is located in the heart of Botswana’s dry savannah. The safari outfitter is on Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve, where there is a large concentration of salt pans – vast deserts in which little wildlife can endure extreme conditions of harsh winds and scorching heat.
Dave van Smeerdijk, one of the founders of the Natural Selection chain of lodges, of which Camp Kalahari is a member, described this as a place where “nothingness stretches as far as the eye can see, and so quiet that one can actually see the curve of the earth and hear the blood circulate through their ears”. (Other areas feature such wildlife as wildebeest, zebras, and flamingos.) One can contemplate philosophical musings at Camp Kalahari’s rustic lodge bar with a classic gin and tonic. The space exudes old world charm and is crammed with wooden chests, maps, soft cushions, and portraits of intrepid explorers.
The Old Forge – Scotland
Located in the village of Inverie, Knoydart, the Old Forge is the UK’s most remote pub, according to the book Scotland the Best (HarperCollins UK, ed. 12, 2016). There are no roads to it; the nearest accessible town is Mallaig, itself a four-hour ride northwest of Glasgow. Once in Mallaig, the only way to access the pub is via an 29-kilomtre hike over a Highlands mountain pass or a seven-mile sea crossing. If you opt for the latter, don’t be surprised if you encounter buzzards, red deer, and grey seals along the coastline.
Despite the numerous obstacles, the many who rise to the challenge are rewarded generously with seafood feasts and local brews upon arriving. The Old Forge curates a unique list of craft beers, including its own ale, put forth by the Ness Brewery in Fort Augustus; it’s called (what else?) RemoteNESS. Those who don’t fancy a pint won’t be judged (much) and can choose from a robust wine menu that offers organic selections.
The Irish Pub – Nepal
Before conquering Mount Everest, many first tamp down the knots in their stomachs with a pint at the local pub. Located in the sherpa town of Namche Bazaar, a Nepalese village built into a steep slope, the Irish Pub claims to be the watering hole with the world’s highest altitude.
Having braved shortness of breath, dizzying heights, and extremely cold weather conditions, getting to the destination itself will make you reach for a pint. Visitors must first fly into the cliff-side Lukla Airport, described by the History Channel as “the most dangerous airport in the world for over 20 years”. Travellers must then trek two days across unsteady suspension bridges at heights of more than 3,353 metres. Salvation awaits you if and when you arrive in form of the pub’s array of wines, stout, and spirits – all imported via your friendly neighbourhood mule or yak train.
Lost Bar – Russia
It holds the reputation of being “the loneliest bar in the world” because, apparently, no one would want to visit it. Historically, the area existed as a stopover for reindeer herders in the 1920s and ‘30s. Today, a major contributing factor to a lack of tourists is likely the bone-chilling, deathly cold; the Lost Bar is in the town of Oymyakon, Russia, which is known as the coldest inhabited town on earth. In fact, the “Pole of Cold” gets such freezing temperatures that merely wearing glasses can pose a threat to your life; they can freeze to your face.
Oymyakon is so far north that a day can be as brief as three hours in December or as long as 21 hours in the summer. If this isn’t a deterrent and you’re of the “cold never bothered me anyway” camp, you’ll need to fly into the closest neighbouring city, the regional capital of Yakutsk. From there, it is a two-day drive to Oymyakon, whose overall population is around 500. The small, no frills bar is well-heated and stocks—what else?—plenty of vodka.