End of an Era: A Tribute 10 Legendary Bars that Are Now History

There are some bars that just get it right. Superb drinks, great atmosphere, perfect location. So when these legendary bars close their doors for good, it can leave us grieving for the good times. Luckily, there are still plenty of historic, hit-the-spot bars around the world for us to enjoy, but let’s take a moment to celebrate 10 of the most iconic bars that are no more, and remember what made them so great.

1. Café de Paris, London

Picture by & © Andy Mabbett, CC by-sa 4.0

Ideally located for a good time in London’s West End, the Café de Paris opened in 1924 and was a favourite with theatre goers who wanted to grab a drink after a show. Over the years it became more than just a bar and with a celebrity guest list to boast of, including Marlene Deitrich and Noel Coward, the Café de Paris was the place to be seen. The bar hosted glitzy parties and put on cabaret shows. It closed during for a while WWII when 34 people died in a blast, and closed for good during the pandemic.

2. Danny’s Tavern, Chicago

Back in 1986 when Danny’s first opened not much was expected of this ordinary looking bar, but it soon gained a reputation as an atmospheric, intimate place to pop into after work for a cheap drink or two, and end up staying all night. The cool playlist and, later on, DJ sets, from disco to electronica, and even sometimes poetry readings, turned the bar into a destination drinking spot. Following a few years of financial difficulty, the bar closed during the pandemic.

3. The Casablanca Bar, Frankfurt

Nestled deep within the Meridian Hotel, and a favourite of attendees to the Frankfurt Book Fair, The Casablanca Bar was cramped, dirty, and smelly. But it was nevertheless a cool bar that drew people to it in droves. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why people loved it so much, but it had a cool atmosphere that money just can’t buy. However, the reasons people loved it could have been the bar’s downfall, as rumours of mismanagement and financial problems swirled along with the stories of drinks on the house and discounts for friends. The bar closed in 2016, and has now opened as a swanky new, clean cocktail bar.

4. The Park Tavern, London

Photo by @ Penge poolt National Brewery Heritage Trust – National Brewery Heritage Trust, United Kingdom – CC BY-SA

Although you can still find plenty of old traditional London pubs in the city, sadly many have now closed. The Park Tavern in Penge, London, is one such old style boozer that’s now nothing more than a memory. The first record of anyone owning the pub was in 1878 as an inn for locals and travellers. These spit and sawdust pubs had charm by the armful, but most fell by the wayside in more modern times. The Park Tavern had been renamed as the Hollywood East by the 2000s and closed in 2015. The building has now been converted into flats.

5. The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh

Opened by jazz musician Bill Kyle, the Jazz Bar was born out of a passion for jazz and it continued for most of its life in this way, with many supporters amongst the Scottish jazz community. But this bar was more than just a jazz bar. People who weren’t that into jazz often checked it out for its speakeasy atmosphere and its signature Espresso Martini. After Bill died in 2016 his daughter took over the running of the bar, but sadly announced its closure in April 2024, citing the cost of living crisis as the reason.

6. Tom’s Bar, Berlin

Tom's Bar Berlin

Described as ‘not for those who are shy or timid’ by Juergen Scheunemann in his book ‘Top Ten Berlin’, this iconic gay bar opened in 1982. It was originally a traditional pub, but it soon became known as a place to end the night and a pick up joint with a darkroom. It was the gay bar in town that tourists would check out, and it’s where Marlene Deitrich and Christopher Isherwood hung out. It closed in February 2024 and is being reinvented as a new gay club. 

7. Circle Bar, Santa Monica

Opened in 1949, The Circle Bar didn’t look like much from the outside, but its reputation preceded it, counting Truman Capote and Jim Morrison as its guests. It was a no-frills bar with a small dance floor and booths for private parties, and its refusal to follow in the area’s gentrification and become something it never was, could have been what led to its closure in 2023. Visitors loved its dive bar feel, but it was sadly left behind as the area moved on.

8. Forty Thieves, Kenya

Diani Beach in Kenya

Set right on Diani Beach front, Forty Thieves offered a family friendly place for a drink and a bite to eat by day, and by night the dance floor would fill with revellers looking to let their hair down in the most picturesque location imaginable. It was an iconic Kenyan bar and a place tourists made a bee-line for when staying by the beach. Sadly, management differences that seem to be irreconcilable led to the bar’s closure in 2018. Today, the bar is a sorry-looking ruin by the sands.

9. Bordeaux, Japan

Photo by @ tiptoeingworld

Mitsumasa Yonai, the 37th prime minister of Japan visited this European style bar in Ginza, and famous businessman, Jiro Shirasu loved it so much here he had a permanently reserved seat by the fire. The bar opened in 1927 and maintained its historic interiors and its iconic old wooden doorway, while all around it more modern structures were built. It closed in 2016 following the owner’s ill health, and a queue of locals and tourists, eager to experience it before it was too late, stretched down the street on its last night.  

10. Bar Rouge, Shanghai

Famous for its stunning rooftop bar, Bar Rouge was the place to go for champagne at sunset and a cheeky cocktail or two over the latest gossip with friends. The vibe was over-indulgence, decadence, and simple good times. While at first the bar appeared to have survived lockdown and announced a temporary closure, by 2022 it seemed clear to all that the bar wasn’t about to reopen. As it’s still closed, we can only assume the days of popping corks on the terrace are over.

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