La Bodeguita del Centro (Guatemala City; tel. 502/2230-2976): This bohemian downtown bar has almost nightly programming that includes poetry readings, improvised theater pieces, and concerts of folk, jazz, and even hard-core punk.
Trovajazz (Guatemala City; tel. 502/2360-5362): The compact pedestrian mall area of Cuatro Grados Norte is chock-full of clubs, bars, and discos, and this is consistently my favorite. There's live music most nights, and the ambience is relaxed and convivial.
Café No Sé (Antigua; tel. 502/5501-2680): This friendly boho-bar is my favorite haunt in Antigua. There's great tequila and mescal on hand -- they import their own brews from neighboring Mexico -- and there's often live music.
Circus Bar (Panajachel; tel. 502/7762-2056): This place is an institution in Panajachel, and for good reason. A "circus" theme dominates the decor, live music takes the stage most nights, and a friendly mix of locals, expatriates, and tourists populate the bar.
Salón Tecún (Quetzaltenango; tel. 502/7761-2832): While there are always plenty of people in the crowded interior of this popular Xela bar, the most happening scene is usually at the large picnic-style tables out front. In a university and language-school town with lots of clubs and bars, this is consistently the place to see and be seen.
Moonlight at Tikal (Tikal; no phone): Standing atop of Temple IV under the full moon with nothing but the sound of crickets and howler monkeys remains one of my favorite after-dark memories of Guatemala. While this isn't officially open to the public, if you're staying at one of the hotels right outside the archaeological site at Tikal, you can sometimes receive permission to visit the site after dark. Be sure to ask your hotel if this is possible, and check on the current security situation.
Ubafu (Livingston; no phone): The Garífuna people of Livingston are direct descendants of escaped African slaves, and this local bar swings nightly to the beat of ancient rhythms mixed with the modern forms of punta rock and reggae. Local bands beat out the rhythms on handmade drums and hollowed-out turtle shells.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.