For the amount of pisco and wine that Chileans drink, bars have never caught on. You'll see a lot of "resto bars," which are restaurants by day and bars by night, many of which still look like restaurants posing as bars at night, with table seating and no "bar" in sight. Bars that also feature live music can be found in "The Club, Music & Dance Scene," earlier. Most bars have happy hours from around 5 to 8pm.
The bars here are all located in the Parque Forestal/Lastarría/Plaza Mulato Gil area near Cerro Santa Lucía, except for Confitería Torres, Av. Alameda 1570 (tel. 2/698-6220), a renovated turn-of-the-20th-century restaurant/cafe that has live music on weekends. The upmarket, trendy Catedral is the most happening bar in Santiago and the place to see and be seen. A word to the wise: Get there early, before 9pm, or prepare yourself to wait forever for a table or a place at the bar. Catedral has outdoor seating on the rooftop patio. Nearby, Lastarría Street is lined with cafes and restaurants that are popular for a quiet drink and light conversation. Near the Plaza Mulatto Gil de Castro is Bar Berri, Rosal 321, a pub frequented by locals and college students; for even more ambience, walk a block down the dead-end street off Rosal (called "Rosal Interior" a half-block from Lastarría) for Café Escondido (tel. 2/632-7356), a "hidden" cafe/bar with cozy, rough-hewn wood interiors and soft music. A more underground scene (a relative term in Santiago) takes place at Club Piso 33 at Alamada 1966 (no phone; www.piso33.cl), a rather self-conscious bar and restaurant with a dance floor where techno music and energy drinks spiked with liquor -- think Vodka Red Bull -- set the scene; it's thoroughly entertaining to behold, even if it does feel passé.
The Bar Liguria, Luis Thayer Ojeda 019 (tel. 2/231-1393) and Av. Providencia 1373 (tel. 2/235-7914), has guaranteed broad appeal with a welcoming, infectious atmosphere and entertaining scenery. The two Ligurias are the most happening bars/restaurants in town; both are open until 2am on weeknights, until 5am on weekends, and are closed Sunday, and they serve food practically until closing time. The chic Bar Yellow, General Flores 47 (tel. 2/946-5063), is a hole-in-the-wall where the city's best martinis are shaken and stirred; they also mix mean cocktails from imported liquor -- but they're not cheap. Bellavista, long the hot spot for nightclubs mobbed by teens and university students, is now drawing in a more refined (and older) crowd with cosmopolitan bars, many of which are restaurants by day. Santo Remedio, Roman Díaz 152, provides one of the funkier atmospheres in Santiago, and it is the only bar open on Sunday nights (except for hotel bars).
In Bellavista, Etniko is a standby for a lively, sophisticated crowd, DJ music, a full bar, and an airy atrium that's ideal on a summer evening. Across the street at Constitución 187 is Ozono (tel. 2/735-3816), a bar/restaurant within the old adobe walls of an antique casona that has all-white interiors, chill-out music, and outdoor seating. Constitución, at Constitución 61 (tel. 2/244-4569), is the place where industry night owls head when they hang up their aprons for the night. With its casual chic ambience, theatrical bartenders, quality live musicians, and guest DJs, it's the epitome of Bellavista bohème. Around the corner, at Antonio Lopez Bello 0135, is Off the Record (tel. 2/777-7710), a bohemian pub/bar that attracts literary types and has interiors that hearken back to the early 1900s; the walls here are adorned with photos of famous Chilean artists, past and present.
The Suecia micro-neighborhood is a conglomerate of themed restaurants and trashy bars popular with college-age party animals, and recent spates of serious crime here do not make this a recommended place for a cocktail late at night.
Las Condes & Vitacura
The Ritz-Carlton Bar bartenders are cocktail experts, and they offer more than 100 varieties of martinis. The bar hosts a Friday-night cocktail party with a DJ, but call ahead to reserve a table. The Hotel Plaza el Bosque is the best spot in town for their reasonably priced happy hours and dynamite city views from their 17th floor, with indoor and outdoor seating. Flannigans's Geo Pub, Encomenderos 83 (tel. 2/233-6675), is an Irish pub with the usual pints on draft, and a hit with expats and the Santiaguinos who like to rub shoulders with them. It's open until midnight on weeknights, 2am on weekends. During the summer, you can't beat a table on the outdoor patio of Akarana, which has an outstanding wine list, well-made cocktails, and mellow live (or DJ) music.
If it's a summer evening and you're looking for a calming place to have a cocktail with a crowd in their 30s and up, head to Zanzibar, in the multirestaurant complex BordeRío at Avenida Escrivá de Balaguer (about a $5/£3.30 taxi ride from Las Condes; tel. 2/218-0120). This Mediterranean/Moroccan restaurant and bar has an outdoor, candlelit terrace on the second floor furnished with pillows and banquettes, and a relaxing ambience with light chill-out music. Reservations are recommended; Zanzíbar is open at night Monday to Saturday 6:30pm to 1am (until 2am Fri-Sat). Also within the BordeRío is the sexy Lamu Lounge (no. 11; tel. 2/218-0119), with an African-Asian ambience, DJ music Wednesday to Saturday, and the widest selection of alcohol in Santiago. Lamu Lounge caters to a crowd in their late 20s to mid-40s, and is open Monday through Saturday from 7pm to 2am; reservations are necessary Thursday to Saturday.