Are you craving a cultural yet classy experience in a speakeasy in Kathmandu?
Then to uncover the many layers and people of this city, you need to roam around on an evening. As Rupert Brooke said, “Cities are like cats reveal themselves at night.”
And BARC is the perfect place to witness this.
Having lived in Kathmandu for a few years, I’d longed for a new chic hotspot away from the expat bubble and tourist traps.
Since its opening last year, I’ve been a regular weekender to the first speakeasy in Kathmandu, BARC.
What is BARC?
BARC is a cocktail bar with a fusion of brilliance, heritage, and innovation in Tripureshwor. It’s actually a breath of fresh air from the tacky tourists and teenagers in Thamel. This is a hidden gem if you want to see locals in their element and interesting individuals. Your feet aren’t sticking to the floors; you aren’t served cheap vodka, and your presence matters.
Part of the zeal for me about this place is the location it’s situated in. It’s in Bluebird Complex, which is not the typical drinking spot for residents and expats in Kathmandu. Many people live on either the North Side, Lazimpat, Baluwatar, Durbar Marg, Thamel, etc., or the south side, like Jamsikhel, Dhobi Ghat, Sanepa, etc. Many residents only cross the other sides of the city once in a while.
For me, BARC is like the bar that is the perfect meeting point for friends on the other side of town who don’t want to retreat too far.
It’s great as there’s room to bring your car or bike, without any hidden parking charges.
On the (top floor) of the Bluebird Complex, this area is a hotspot for locals, influencers, celebrities, and visits to the country. Normally, when I visit bars in different areas, there’s a specific type of crowd and atmosphere, but the beauty of BARC is it’s for people solely into the drinks and the company.
Menu of this Speakeasy in Kathmandu
If you’re someone who wants to grab a bite to eat in between drinks, BARC has a food menu, too, which is pretty epic. It’s a pan-Asian fusion, so you can find a bit of everything there, from the following:
- Charcoal Grillied Chicken Bulgogi
- Japanese pork meatball skewers
- Tom yum potato croquettes
- Smoked mozzarella cheese balls
- Sichuan prawns
- Momo with chilli oil
- Braised pork belly sliders
- Smoked chicken bruschetta
These are just a few mouthwatering dishes out of many served by the Co-founder and his kitchen team Food Journal by Adarsha.
But, to come to Barc, you really have to go for the cocktails. They’re truly world-class and could teach the non-cocktail bars in Kathmandu a thing or do. What I love about this cocktail bar is that they’re innovative and have put a lot of thought into fusing local with the cosmopolitan aspect.
If you want to get drunk but can’t handle the hard stuff, they have a chart on their menu showing what’s more of a hard cocktail or a softer one. Similarly, if you’re a visitor in Kathmandu on a short stay, you can experience a bit of culture with their cocktails as some have Chang and aila in, both typical drinks of Newars (on their own).
Another cracking one is their Bloody Nepali a a vodka based cocktail with Titaura mix.
Their cocktails on their menu for pretty much everyone. They’re constantly adding to their menu; you’ll probably be quite overwhelmed.
If you’re still stepping into cocktails, there are multiple strategies you can pick them based on. I suggest trying their name or using the grid. But if you’re unsure, even ask the staff; they’re highly knowledgeable and will recommend one to tickle your tastebuds.
When it comes to me, I’m a creature of habit. I typically love to guzzle down a nice aila sour. But don’t take my recommendation; try them out yourself first.
Once you crack the puzzle to BARC, you’ll discover a pretty cool vibe.
It’s on top of the Bluebird Complex and has stunning shades of green walls, hip red chairs, tables, and my favorite, chesterfield sofas along the back wall. They’ve decorated so that their bar remains the centerpiece and main focus of their room. It’s like they’ve managed to make a small stage to watch the bartenders and mixologists do their magic while you wait for your drink.
Outside the main indoor area, you can find a stunning white rooftop area to smoke cigarettes, sip cocktails or just to chill and socialize. They have a gorgeous skyline looking over Kathmandu in the evening.
I mainly choose to hang out in the outside space for a stunning view of the night sky and room to move. If you’re cold, they also have outdoor heaters to keep you warm in the winter months.
But, whether you’re indoors or outdoors, my favorite thing, in addition to the cocktails at BARC, is the music. I’m a big music buff, and let me tell you, they play some of the best live and recorded music in Kathmandu.
Unlike the typical racket of noise-produced EDM bars in Thamel, you can expect to find a nice blend of house, jazz, minimal techno, and much more. I am pleasantly surprised when I visit to hear Maribou State sometimes playing, an English electronic duo that’s not well-known worldwide.
If you’re a music buff like me, you’ll appreciate the difference and the pleasant atmosphere aside from the noisy EDM scene. Not just that, as their drinks are slightly more upmarket, they cut out the crappy crowd you get in Thamel.
They’ve recently started adding live bands into the mix, making it a happening place for many adults. The truth is I’ve never run into a problem with any other people in the bar because of this; their atmosphere is pleasant.
For many reasons, I’m a big fan of BARC, the first speakeasy in Kathmandu. It’s a fantastic place for pre-drinks, snacks, or a general night out. They’re also hosting fantastic events like sundowners, live gigs, hip-hop events, and more, attracting a cool crowd in the city. When I’m in Kathmandu, you can usually find me hanging there on a Friday or Saturday night.
With them being over one year old now, I can’t wait to see how they influence others in the nightlife business and contribute more to changing the Cocktail culture of Kathmandu. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was another speakeasy in Kathmandu that opens trying to replicate BARC success. If you’re interested in what BARC is all about I’d reccomend visiting them in person or checking out both Instagrams of Food Journal_Adarsha and Bar Stories by Abhiskhek.
Other related questions
Does Kathmandu have good nightlife?
If you’re mainly looking for nightlife in Kathmandu, you’ll probably find it in Thamel and Durbarmarg. Among those two areas, you’ll find many bars, clubs, and casinos to choose from. Since there’s not really a restriction on the drinking age, you can find some of these places packed with locals from teenagers and upwards.
Does Nepal have a nightlife?
Nepal has a bunch of places to club, drink, and party. The main area, of course, is in Thamel in Kathmandu, but you can find them all over. If you’re a fan of bars, though, it’s best to check out Jhamsikhel and my favorite BARC, at Bluebird Complex.
How many casinos are there in Nepal?
In Kathmandu alone, there are over 8 casinos and counting. You can also find other casinos in Nepal, like Tiger Palace Resort in Lumbini, Hotel Mechi Crown in Jhapa, and much more. However, gambling for Nepalese is illegal.