For almost two months now, for the second time this year, our favorite bars and restaurants are deserted and somehow sad. Chairs and tables are cornered, and the windows look dark and sinister. Such was the situation during the holidays, and now, with the cold January days, this feeling of unreality seems to have intensified even more. But to restore at least some normalcy for all of you, the team of the only digital guide under the hills toured some of the most iconic places and together with their guardians we dreamed to fill them again and to regain our smiles and party mood.
We started our pub crawl at Fargo Club, where an avid mountaineering enthusiast (perhaps) had turned the dance floor into a tent camp. A bit jokingly, a bit truthfully - the place is a real mobile home. In December, the cocktail bar offered drinks at home for everyone who missed their mixes, but in January, they quietly and humbly count the days until there will be drinks for everyone till last calls.
We went down a few stairs to Bee Bop Café, which became an online stage during the lockdown. Dozens of cameras instead of full glasses. Operators and speakers, instead of bartenders and waiters. Cables and monitors instead of bottles, trays and taps for beer. Lots of music, before and now. This is what Bee Bop Café looks and sounds like today. The non-functioning bar is a noisy TV studio and the stage is an online platform.
Just on the way to the Main Street is our next place - The Post. There, just before the holidays, we found the main bartender and owner Misho writing a letter to Santa Claus with a recipe for an irresistible cocktail mix with "sweet pumpkin" tea, rum, metaxa, lemon sherbet and peach liqueur. Well, we didn't seem to be able to get the good old man to work a miracle and open the bars faster, but they keep delivering drinks from the bar throughout January. So, if you feel like drinking something from their menu, do not hesitate and contact them quickly.
Then we passed across the forum-north and with a view of the Basilica and we went on the way to Artnewscafe. In it, we found the main person of the club at the moment, Ivan Grigorov-Gri, who greeted us with a smile. He often comes to water the cactus, or to look at his workplace with nostalgia. Like us as clients, he misses the teasing and conversations with regular visitors the most.
Along Otets Paisii, but unfortunately not for long, we visited another favorite bar. After two lockdowns, Vino Culture announced that they wouldn’t open their doors, but only temporarily. So that its seven-year history can be rewritten in a new place! The restart doesn’t scare them, and they are using the break to empty the wine cellar and prioritize.
We quickly passed through Bezisten, where every time they open the place to do something, the staff fills Chris Cornell's glass. The simple wooden furniture, next to which the legendary musician gave one of his last concerts in front of an audience, is like an artifact on the stage in the rock bar, which currently has only one regular visitor - the spirit of Cornell.
We passed Dzhumaya and climbed to another cult place. In the dark and locked Download bar only the faces from Kolyo Karamfilov's columns suck their drinks. They both sadden and encourage the owners, who ambiguously declare that despite the false information about selling the place - they won’t go anywhere and will wait for their customers here when they are allowed to return!
On your way in search of that unforgettable feeling, when you step into your favorite bar and you are greeted with a big smile and a glass of your favorite drink, we reached Petnoto. There’s a lot happening in the iconic club due to major interior repairs. Petnoto will soon become a classic British pub - delicious food will be available there. In difficult times, they decided that now was the time to close the cycle. They will offer street food. At the same time, they are expanding the stage downstairs and we are all looking forward to seeing the new face of the bar.
We couldn’t help but walk down one of our favorite streets – Otets Paisii and stop in Fabric bar, from which we learned that they used their free time during these nearly two months to develop a bunch of new recipes for craft beer, all provoked by the strange time in which we live. Together with an eco-herbalist, Fabric's brewers have prepared several types of herbal sparkling elixirs to lift the spirits of their customers as the restrictions fall.
We also passed by the cult bar Maria Louisa, where the blinds have not been closed for so long since 1993, when Marata opened. You can visit the place only if you want to see the recently opened gallery on the lower floor of the bar. To enter, however, you must ring the doorbell and wear the obligatory mask. You will pass by the dark bar and the tables of Marata, on which there aren’t the usual full glasses, but posters for the current exhibition.
And while it's not a typical Saturday night, we hope that with our pub crawl during a pandemic we’ve brought back good memories. And just know this - your favorite bars can't wait to open their doors and raise a glass to some better times!