Marrakesh is not necessarily known for its drinking scene – the majority of restaurants in the city won’t offer a wine list with your menu – but that doesn’t mean your visit has to be totally dry. The red city’s confluence of themed bars, smoky pubs and rooftop getaways mean this cosmopolitan desert wonderland is more than able to quench that thirst.
Whether you’ve managed to sweat through several shirts ambling through the medina, just emerged from a particularly intense haggling session or simply want to wash away the ever-present taste of mint tea, a few local and imported beers – as well as the odd cocktail – are usually not too far away.
The only experimental mixology place in town, Barometre is a do-not-miss of Marrakesh. Because of a dearth of local spirits, the team makes their own infusions that then go into their adventurous signature cocktails. The place has a speakeasy vibe that comes partly from its entrance behind a giant letter B, which then leads you underground past two large doors. Friendly anbd super knowledgeable English-speaking bartenders help you through the entire experience. Not only is Barometre good for cocktails, but the beers on tap and the restaurant also come highly recommended.
Café du Livre
Hidden through the doorway to the Hotel Toulousian, Café du Livre has cocktails chalked up on a central board and secondhand books for sale around the edge of a lounge area. Comfortable seating, all in an ambient blue, make it a great place to take a calm afternoon flicking through pages and sipping on whatever takes your fancy. If you’re still buzzing from the nearby shopping of Gueliz, Café du Livre can get more feisty in the evenings. Crowds will swell during the 6pm to 8pm Tuesday to Saturday happy hour, especially on weekends when live music plays. For those English speakers missing a weekly trivia night, the cafe also hosts a pub quiz every Monday.
La Table Espagnole
One of Marrakesh’s Spanish-themed bars, La Table Espagnole lets you jig around with the live band while you await the arrival of tapas to your table. If you’re not so interested in the food, the beers come by the bucketful as well as the usual bottles and half-litres – all brought to your upturned barrel-table by helpful servers. The crowd grows more raucous later in the evening and on weekends as the band starts off playing Latin-pop and slowly moves to Moroccan favourites: expect to hear Khaled’s C’est La Vie at least once, maybe twice.
Escape the Carre Eden shopping mall to a bar handily situated just above. The Radisson Blu hotel’s 2nd-floor lounge, Lila Bar, is a mini-haven from the surging crowds outside, somehow managing to block out the constant traffic of Ave Mohammed V. As a central focal point, a live band plays (sometimes dubious) covers of English pop hits as bartenders mix cocktails and hand out beers from a main island. Popular with well-heeled locals and older expats, the bar doesn’t often get too busy. There’s also a terrace area for those middling autumn and spring months when the city manages to stay a perfect evening temperature.
Inside the Hôtel & Ryads Barrière Le Naoura, Nuphar Bar is a quiet, well hidden hotel bar with good service and a fair spirits list – something that’s not always easy to find in Morocco. Only a 10-minute walk up from Djemaa El Fna, it’s a place to peacefully recollect after the nighttime madness of the square. It is on the pricey side (even by Moroccan standards), though situated as it is on a luxury complex, that doesn’t come unexpected. Crunchy wasabi peas and spiced wheat balls make for one of the better bar snack selections around.
Looking for somewhere a bit louder? Maybe there’s a football game on and you want the full atmosphere? Another Spanish-themed bar and restaurant with tapas, L’Auberge Espagnole is found just down the road from Barometre. A noisy local crowd congregates here in the evenings, and TVs all around show the region’s sports channels. The draft beer is moderately priced, and the waiters are multilingual and friendly, though it’s loud enough in the evenings that you’ll be mostly yelling with hand signals.
A hotel bar not quite like the others, the Chesterfield Pub is a darker, smokier atmosphere that might not be for everyone. If you’re looking for a darker place to escape the intense Marrakesh sun and gossip with friends in big, comfy chairs, this British-themed pub is just for you. When the weather’s right you can even take your half-litre Flag Speciales out on the patio for some calm respite beside the tiny hotel pool.
A short walk from Djemaa El Fna, Kosybar is one of the better places in the Old City to stop for a drink. Along with a sushi menu, the bar has regular pumping ambient music that often changes to a live soul performance, with audience participation. The three floors of Kosybar go all the way up to an extra terrace level, ready for the late-night lights across the red city. The mixology seems to largely consist of a blender behind the bar, but a selection of beers are served by the bottle, happily helping you cool off in the nighttime breeze.