If James Bond had to rendezvous with a seductive female double agent in Buenos Aires he would probably invite her to El Gran Bar Danzón for a cocktail. This Recoleta cocktail lounge, wine bar and restaurant has just the sort of sophisticated atmosphere where 007 would feel at home, and it’s also home to the city’s best Martini, shaken or stirred.
A strong whiff of valerian greets visitors as they make their way up the steps at the small entrance of Danzón.Valerian is supposed to put people at ease, which is obviously the desired effect in this low-lit, smart bar-cum-restaurant.
Bar Danzón is a good spot to bring a date or meet someone new. To fit in here, be sure to dress up if you’re a lady, and flash the cash if you’re a man, as those seem to be the prerequisites for falling in love, Danzón-style. It may not be quite tuxedo and gown territory, but dressing with a little panache will ensure you stand out among the city’s movers and shakers.
Although there are usually a few twenty-somethings, Danzón is geared toward a more mature Recoleta crowd, with the median age for women being mid-thirties or so (think Pussy Galore in Goldfinger), and men a tad older (Pierce Brosnan in Goldeneye).
Floor space is at a premium in Danzón, meaning the atmosphere can go from ‘intimate’ to ‘crowded’ very easily, especially during peak cocktail sipping hour which from about 8:30-11:30pm.
Thriving since it opened in 1998 and designed by the same people responsible for top end bars such as Sucre and Uriarte (now closed), Danzon’s layout tends towards style over practicality. The prime real estate in this bar is the lounge area with its leather loungers, where you’ll get table service and the chance to socialize with fellow sofa-dwellers while observing the beautiful people at the bar. For non-diners not lucky enough to land a sofa spot, other options are a seat at the delightfully glittering bar or one of few raised tables. Once those places are snapped up, most people end up standing pressed against one other, balancing their drinks while struggling to maintain a nonchalant air as staff and fellow customers squeeze past.
Tables in the small dining area to the back of the bar are also snugly arranged — a reservation is recommended if you don’t want a long wait. Both bar and waitstaff are immaculate in their presentation and service. Their long white coats make them look like butchers or lab assistants, but since they’re all so good-looking and maintain a level of professionalism that is hard to find elsewhere in Buenos Aires, somehow it works.
Food, Wine & Cocktails
Those who do decide to dine won’t be disappointed, although they may be a little taken aback by the prices, which are high by local standards, but not totally unreasonable considering the quality of the food.
Since the beginning, Chef Martin Arriera set the gastronomic tone, offering up some surprising taste combinations such as goat’s cheese ravioli with sweet pumpkin sauce and sweetbreads, or crunchy glazed duck with a sauce of blueberries, balsamic vinegar and pistachios.
The over 400 wines selected by sommelier Fernanda Fazekas to represent the best of what Argentina has to offer is one of Danzón’s best selling points. Highly knowledgeable waiters can recommend the perfect drop to compliment customers’ meals, with prices ranging from reasonable to rap star territory. Danzón is one of the few places to find fresh oysters in Buenos Aires and they also serve excellent sushi, which are great options for those in the bar or lounge areas who want to dabble for dinner.
Danzón’s bartenders are about as good as you’ll find anywhere in the tango city. Weekly cocktail specials written up on the blackboard are often inventive, usually delicious and always interesting. Keep an eye out for specials on wine by the glass as well, which are rotated daily. If you’re unsure of what to select, chat to any of the bilingual bartenders and they’ll offer helpful suggestions – or just stop flip flopping and ask yourself, ‘what would Bond do?’
Bar Danzón gets crowded on Wednesday nights from 7-9 pm during ‘jazz y tragos,’ which features a DJ spinning jazz on vinyl. Other nights the music tends to be chill-out inducing ambient electronic.
Gran Bar Danzon—$$$$
Recoleta, Buenos Aires
Tel: 4811 1108
Fri 7:00- 4:00 a.m.
Sat &Sun 8:00-4:00 a.m
• Happy Hour: 7-9 p.m every day
• Dinner reservations recommended
• major credit cards accepted