Peru took the headlines at The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2023 in Valencia, officially marking Lima as a food capital that is right at the top of gastronomic travellers’ hit lists. While The World’s Best Restaurant, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Aqua Panna, is Central – the first Latin American restaurant to top the ranking – it is ably supported by other listees Maido, Kjolle, Mayta and Mérito.
For a pre-prandial libation ahead of your tasting menu extravaganza – or as you find yourself waiting for a cancellation to nab a last-minute table – Sorrel Moseley-Williams rounds up Lima’s finest drinking dens where the cocktails are as good as the food at the city’s superlative restaurants
Lady Bee, Miraflores
Lady Bee's cocktail programme draws inspiration from the different corners of Peru and their diverse ecosystems
When husband-and-wife team Alonso Palomino and Gabriela León opened Lady Bee in the trendy Miraflores neighbourhood in 2021, the bartender and chef created a space that serves up Peru in a glass. Much like at Central, seasonal ingredients are sourced from small producers across varying ecosystems around the county, while pisco sommelier Palomino releases a new drinks list every four months. One fixture is Three Sips Martini, made with green olives from Arequipa, algae sourced from Ica and trout caviar. A current favourite is Oca/Olluco, which uses a red oca tuber distillate, olluco tubers from Huatata and potato pickles in the drink.
Av. Ernesto Diez Canseco 329, Miraflores 15074, Peru
Sastrería Martínez, Miraflores
This bar derives its name from the sastrería (tailor shop) that obscures its front entrance
Tucked away in a basement next door to a specialty coffee shop and behind a tailor shop’s façade lies this smart hidden bar with an outfitter’s theme. Following its 2022 opening, Sastrería Martínez has become one to watch, picking up a slew of awards in Peru. After two decades working abroad, suited and booted bartender Diego Macedo personifies the venue’s theme. Finding inspiration in Martin Scorsese’s Boardwalk Empire, the team, led by Carolín Ruíz, sport flat caps and period-appropriate uniforms. Changing up the drinks collection annually, expect Peruvian flavours across the board. The cocktail Morrys teams acholado pisco with ancestral Andean distillate Matacuy, agave honey and lemons. Do order a couple of excellent small plates to keep you going: grilled octopus and scallops in ceviche are standout.
Av. Mariscal La Mar 1263, Miraflores 15074, Peru
Carnaval, San Isidro
Carnaval debuted on The World's 50 Best Bars 2019 list as the Highest New Entry before closing and re-entering the ranking at its new San Isidro location which opened in January 2022
Leading the charge in Lima is Carnaval, the bar created by renowned bartender Aaron Díaz, which is so far the only Peruvian hostelry to feature on The World’s 50 Best Bars list (in 2022 it ranked No.44). After working behind the stick in Chicago, Miami and Santiago for several years, Díaz returned to his home city of Lima armed with experience and desire to set a new standard in Peruvian cocktails, including the hire of a dedicated ‘ice chef’. To a pumping soundtrack, Díaz and team create fun-loving conceptual drinks from the front, rather than the back, of the bar, which encourages contact between guest and bartender. A must is the eponymous Carnaval, a gin-based fiesta that floats in on a Chinese lantern and is made with green herbal liqueur, pineapple, creole lemon and top-fermented witbier.
Av. Pardo y Aliaga 662, San Isidro 15073, Peru
This coastal bar is one of Lima's hottest spots for its spectacular sunset views and seriously good drinks to match
Tucked away at the foot of a cliff in the Barranco neighbourhood, Cala is home to a sea-level terrace whose epic vistas stretch out over surfers catching waves on the dramatic Pacific coast. While technically a restaurant, the bar at Cala takes centre stage, making it one of the sought-after spots in Lima to enjoy a sunset session, accompanied by creations from top Peruvian bartender Manuel Cigarróstegui. Taking liquid inspiration from the waves in front of the bar, the team create everything from scratch. Try the Ponce de Erizo (Sea Urchin Punch), where the Quebranta pisco base comes together with black carob syrup, amaron, mandarin orange and echinoderm.
Cto. de Playas, Barranco 15063, Peru
The Parrot Shadow, San Isidro
The Parrot Shadow specialises in rum-based tropical drinks, boasting a 230-bottle-strong collection
Tropical drink aficionados should make a beeline to The Parrot Shadow, one of a handful of Caribbean-inspired watering holes in Peru’s capital. Bamboo backdrops, blowfish and plenty of fluorescent lighting set the scene for bartender Nando Córdova to play around with 230 rums sourced from 26 countries, including five Peruvian labels. Pull up a comfy and colourful stool and watch him at work: signature cocktails include the Mai Tai Royal, as well as some of his greatest hits from previous menus such as the Exótica Negroni (2019).
C. Sta. Luisa 250, San Isidro 15073, Peru
Ribeyro Casa Sutil, Miraflores
This hotel hostelry was once home to famed Peruvian author Julio Ramón Ribeyro, from whom it draws its name
Set in the Quinta Miraflores boutique hotel, this homely watering hole’s name pays tribute to Peruvian author Julio Ramón Ribeyro who lived at the property and penned iconic essay collection La Caza Sutil, focusing on Peruvian, Latin American and French literature. Sophisticated signature drinks are the mainstay, with José Luis Huiman and Denilson Gaviria working the stick, backed up by chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino who takes care of the small plates. The two-part drinks list comprises six signature drinks and 11 classics: try the Martini Ribeyro, which pairs Peruvian vodka with smoked paiche, an Amazonian river fish. There’s also a notable wine list, which includes Peruvian and skin-contact vintages.
Av. 28 de Julio 844, Miraflores 15074, Peru
Bar Olé, San Isidro
Bar Olé has stood the test of time in Lima's ever-evolving bar scene, lauded for its stellar hospitality and plentiful pisco selection
After notching up 27 years’ service, it’s fair to say that Bar Olé is a classic that still stands out in Lima’s packed bar and restaurant scene. Located in the swish San Isidro neighbourhood, enter through the revolving doors where you’ll likely be greeted by host Javier Carvallo. His drinks recommendations include El Capitán, a Peruvian twist on the Manhattan, or Sol y Sombra, a Chilcano (a refreshing pisco and ginger ale) that’s boosted by guinda (cherry) liqueur; there’s also a strong collection of Peruvian piscos to be savoured.
C. Pancho Fierro 109, Lima 15073, Peru
Three high-quality hotel bars
Bar Inglés is an iconic hotel bar at the Country Club Lima in San Isidro, which is widely touted as mixing up one of the best Pisco Sours on the city. It arrives from a dickie-bow-clad bartender containing egg white, pisco, lime juice and simple syrup and served in an Old Fashioned glass.
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Ca. Los Eucaliptos 590, San Isidro 15076, Peru
Alphonse serves up speakeasy vibes in San Isidro, as Lima’s only hidden bar in a five-star hotel, namely the Westin. Savour a bubbly Cosa Nostra to the sounds of a live jazz band.
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Las Begonias 450, San Isidro, Lima 00027 Peru
Hotel B’s bar, helmed by by Axel Romero, is defined by its signature cocktails: try the spiced and citrussy Zombie Amazónico or Capitán del B made with the hotel’s very own pisco.
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Jirón Sáenz Peña 204, Barranco 15063, Peru
For more inspiration on planning a gastronomic or liquid-led getaway, see the 50 Best Discovery website, which contains expert-approved restaurants and bars all over the world