drinks Lifestyle Vietnam

Craft beer, cocktails & speakeasy bars – where to drink in Saigon?

Where to drink in Saigon? Whether you’re looking for a glass of refreshing craft beer after a long day of sightseeing, a date night with cocktails, a bar for a good night out or just want to do some day-drinking while you work on your laptop (because cafes are so last year), Saigon has got you covered.

My main tip that applies to all breweries and bars is to check their facebook pages before visiting. They often have events, special deals (like free flow of beer) and happy hours (which last more than 3 hours) that are worth checking out. 

Where to drink craft beer in Saigon?

The craft beer scene in Saigon is booming! You’re spoiled for choice and what you get in result couldn’t be farther away from the watery Bia hơi or typical Vietnamese lagers. There are many more places than what we listed below but we either didn’t have time to visit them, weren’t impressed with the quality of beer on offer or simply didn’t know about their existence. This list should give you a good head start and spark curiosity to search for more (please let me know if you find something great).

C-Brewmaster

The C-Brewmaster Brewery is based in Hanoi and the Saigon Tap Room is its first outside of the capital. It’s conveniently located in the central Ho Chi Minh City although it may be tricky to find as it’s in a side alley just off Bùi Viện (the main walking/backpacker street).

The taproom is a rather cosy space with just a handful of seats. There are multiple interesting beers on tap, mostly classics like pilsners or pale ales but it’s their pho beer that got me really interested. It’s a light, thirst-quenching beer with hints of various herbs normally found in pho. Despite sounding off-putting, it does go down really well on humid afternoons. If you’re not game, try the dark sticky rice or Vietnamese ice coffee instead. 

East West Brewing Co.

Housed in a big, modern building, East West is a place where you not only can drink beer but also see the brewing process. 

The beer lineup isn’t huge but is solid and makes choosing easier. You’ll find IPAs, pale ales, hefeweizen and a couple of dark brews. There’s also a Saigon Rose, a 3% vol, raspberry-flavoured wheat, which seems popular not only among ladies. The Far East IPA is well balanced and the Summer Hefeweizen nicely refreshing so these were my two go-to beers.

Their on-site restaurant is pretty good too, especially their chilli pork belly bites. I highly recommend ordering it if you see it on the menu.

Heart of Darkness

My personal favourite in Saigon where I found myself celebrating my birthday (yay to beer instead of cake!), working on my laptop with my favourite IPA by my side (limited release Two Hundred Miles Double IPA), having lunch and meeting friends. Somehow all roads led me there.

The vibe of the Heart of Darkness is especially inviting. It’s a dimly lit space with high tables and bar stools and rather industrial feel. The music is on the heavier rock side, which I always appreciate in breweries, but isn’t too loud and you can easily have a conversation. We were in Saigon in December which meant most places tortured us with questionably joyful Xmas songs – the Heart of Darkness got extra points from us for not having Xmas songs ever. 

If you have a moment, read the story behind the conception of the Heart of Darkness. It really is inspiring.

BiaCraft

The holy grail of cheesecakes. Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a beer place? Yes, there is beer. Actually quite a lot of beer – the menu is extensive and every time it took me a while to read through it and pick. 

But back to the cheesecake. I originally wanted to order their famous biaramisu (a tiramisu with coffee stout) but it wasn’t available so we went for our second choice – salted egg yolk cheesecake. It blew us away so we ordered a second piece straight away and returned for more many times since. It goes perfectly with beer, especially more bitter ones like double IPA. 

BiaCraft has four locations in Saigon (plus recently added BiaTruck) and prides itself for the most extensive craft beer offer in the city. In addition to their own brews, which by the way have some cheeky names like Ugly but vain or Let’s get naked, they offer many Vietnamese and international beers.

Pasteur Street Brewing Company

With four taprooms across Saigon and two more in Hanoi & Hoi An, Pasteur Street Brewing Company is one of the big, serious players in the local craft beer scene. 

We visited only the original taprooms on the namesake Pasteur Street and really enjoyed the experience every time. The location isn’t so obvious to passers-by as you need to walk through a small alleyway and up the stairs around the back which makes it somewhat less crowded. The staff in that place deserves a special shout out as they were always friendly, never made us wait long for our pints and had a really positive attitude.

On the menu are all the classic American-style crafts plus some creative, Vietnam-influenced flavours like Jasmine IPA, Dragon Fruit Gose, Passion Fruit Wheat Ale or their award-winning Cyclo Imperial Chocolate Stout.

Ong Cao

A craft beer bar at the quieter end of Bùi Viện walking/backpacker street. They offer brews of all the greatest stars of the local craft beer scene, including Mango IPA from Lac Brewing

The food menu is also worthwhile with some fantastic options for meat lovers like Animal Fries and Smoked Bacon. Pure pleasure.

The night we visited it was pretty loud and busy on the ground floor but the upstairs balcony was still available and offered a good vantage point for people watching.

Rogue

Rogue hides on upper floors of an old building across the road of grand colonial-era State Bank of Vietnam. There are 20 craft beers on tap featuring the best Saigon breweries as well as some cocktails.

A dark photo of two beers with the old colonial-era bank building behind them.

The best seats are on the terrace where you can catch a bit of breeze, people-watch the street below and look at a small part of the night city skyline. For us, the biggest draw were Rogue’s fabulous burgers.

Hen House Craft Beer Bar

One more venue deserving a mention in the busy craft beer world of Saigon – the Hen House. It’s a no-fuss craft beer bar, located at the edge of the backpacker area serving Rooster Beers and Vietnamese cuisine dishes.

Rooster Beers brew simple beers but are set on perfecting them instead of creating crazy flavours. Their six brews – Pilsner, Wit, Blonde, Dark, Pale & IPA – are hard to fault. And as they say it’s the everyday, go-to beer for everyone.

If you don’t feel like exploring Saigon’s craft beers on your own, consider signing up for Saigon Craft Beer Tour.

The best cocktail bars in Saigon

It’s not just beer fueling the nights out in Saigon. Their cocktail bars game is pretty strong as well.

The Gin House

Your go-to gin place hidden behind a massive door and heavy curtain on one of the smaller streets of District 1. There isn’t much room inside but if you come early you’ll be able to not only get a table but also take advantage of their great happy hour. Every day from 5-8pm all house gin infusions and signature cocktails are half price. The only thing we disliked about The Gin House was that smoking is allowed inside.

The interior is really dimly lit, to the point you may need to unleash your torch to be able to read the menu. Otherwise, just rely on the bartenders who know their way around gin. The furnishings are elegant with a lot of velvet and the general vibe of design elements as well as music is of the 1920s.

The menu is extensive and has an interesting list of Saigon-inspired cocktails like the Ben Thanh, named after the famous market, which has pineapples, apricots, coriander and white pepper in it. 

Snuffbox

A nice speakeasy bar hidden in a slightly dilapidated-looking building in District 1. Half the fun is the search for it and then the contrast between the dodgy staircase you have to climb and the fancy interior of the bar with sharp-looking bartenders in elegant shirts.

The ambience of the place is great, especially if you’re into starting parties early – after 10pm the place is packed and loud. Every day from 6-8pm Snuffbox is in happy hour mode offering lower price on cocktails.

ChinChin Bar

ChinChin Bar is housed along with other restaurants in a large brick building which had many purposes in the past. It used to be a bank, a fabric warehouse, and a medicine shop. The medicine-shop theme has been adapted by ChinChin as a way to make guests feel as if they’ve gone back in time to the days when you’d visit a medicinal shop to buy Chinese medicines. 

The menu of drinks is on-topic with cocktails named Cherry Lozenge, Nuts Medication, Smoky Potion, Doctor Advise, Penicillin, or Old Man Remedy.

Bibulous

Our favourite bar in Saigon – once we found it, we returned many times. Not just for their generously long happy hour (which lasts three hours) and generally friendly vibe but also to kick each other’s ass playing shuffle board. Together with our friends Juli & Sam who were hanging out with us in Saigon, we spent hours playing the game we didn’t know before and downing G&Ts. We all liked that place so much, we returned on New Year’s Eve.

The staff at Bibulous are all fantastic and were one of the reasons that made this place so memorable. The pulled pork sliders and good cheese boards (which are hard to come by in SE Asia) are worth recommending. Bibulous is a good place for a date or a night out with friends.

Firkin

Firkin Bar is an elegant whiskey-focused cocktail lounge which was the only place in Saigon that made me feel underdressed.

The entrance is hidden in plain sight and easy to miss. Once you find it and head upstairs you’ll be in awe by the huge collection of whiskey from all over the world behind the long bar.

Other than whiskey, they have a list of bespoke and signature cocktails including cafe ba, a coffee cocktail inspired by Vietnamese coffee culture. It’s based on aged rum and topped with cold brew coffee – a must-try for coffee lovers I would say.


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