Sure, the Estonian capital's cocktail scene might be super, but why not try the craftiest beer in Tallinn while you're 'on one'?
And hey, booze might not be your bag – so here are the best things to do in Tallinn generally.
Depeche Mode Bar
In 1999, a Tallin native named Dan Buinenko had a dream. That dream was to open a bar dedicated to Depeche Mode. This bar – still thriving over two decades later – is testament his unlikely genius. Sup brews named for iconic DM tunes – ‘Enjoy the Silence’ with vodka and Galliano; ‘Policy of Truth’ with Campari and Martini Rosso – and sway to classic hits and deep cuts while you glance at old concerts on screens. Proof that, when it comes to 80s synth-pop groups, Estonians just can’t get enough.
4 Voorimehe, Vanalinn
Like beer? You’re in very capable hands at this groovy spot in the hip Telliskivi complex. Imbibe your way through a frankly dizzying array of bottled and draught brews from local suppliers and all over the world. When the weather’s behaving, the outside terrace is one of Tallinn’s finest people-watching spots. In chillier months they light a fire inside – it’s strangely cosy despite the modish bare and exposed ceilings. They regularly put on DJ nights, and they’re quite happy for you to bring in outside food, like some beery Shangri-La.
Telliskivi 60a-5, Kalamaja
Owner and head mixologist Andres Siem cut his teeth at London cocktail spot Mr Fogg's – and his vibe is all about botanicals and natural, locally-sourced, typically foraged, ingredients. As such, the menu at his brainchild Botaanik changes at least monthly, with fresh floral highlights in summer and richer preserved berry confections in the autumn or winter. If you like imaginative, aromatic and complex cocktails – especially in an intimate, tastefully vintage-setting – Botaanik is an inspired pick.
2 Suurtüki, Vanalinn
NoKu Klubi is less a straightforward bar, more a friendly common room for local artists and other bookish bohemian types. Look for the shabby chic red-and-black door on Pikk Street and make your way to the upper storey. Hefty mismatched furniture and cheap drinks are the order of the day, with a simple no-nonsense menu of beer-soaking fare – nachos, pork tenderloin, spicy mushroom pasta and so on. Just the place for an afternoon putting the world to rights over a foamy stein or three.
5 Pikk, Vanalinn
Sigmund Freud Bar
The father of psychoanalysis might seem unlikely inspo for a themed cocktail bar. But this mental Old Town spot has serious hidden depths. Start with a 'Tiki Tok' of mango and mint, served in a Tiki cup sculpted to look uncannily like the bar’s thought-provoking Austrian namesake. If you’re feeling daring, the ‘Plan B’ with dark rum, yogurt liqueur, lemon juice, agave and yuzu comes with a lottery ticket redeemable for a glass of champagne or a shot. Just leave your ego at the door (but they may ask for id).
8 Sauna, Vanalinn
This cozy little subterranean cavern is perfect for a conspiratorial get-together with a select squad of drinking buddies. Regular DJs spin all-sorts of dance and dance-adjacent tunes, with a distinct leaning towards lively Afrobeat and colourful Cuban beats. Sometimes they’ll put on acoustic acts; it’s a great spot to start the night. Pro tip: nab one of the racy chaise lounges so you can drink in the vibes semi-reclining like some flavour of regency courtesan.
10 Sauna, Vanalinn
A cocktail bar with a science theme? It's actually not at all as cringe as it sounds. Labor is a bit of an after-work institution in Tallinn, with the bright young things queuing up – they do a happy hour until 10pm – for foamy red concoctions served in beakers, test tubes repurposed as shot glasses, and eerie mad-genius blacklit ambience. What’s not to like about drinks with names like ‘Pathogen’, ‘Plasma’ and ‘Sterility’? Well worth it if you’re in the mood for something a little experimental.
10 Suur-Karja, Vanalinn
Down in the trendy Kalamaja district, this casual youthful bar/café doles out good, cheap beer, simple cocktails and snacks. If you want fancy, go elsewhere. But if you’re into mis-matched mid-century furniture, live piano music – or respectably cool vinyl on the PA, depending who’s working that day – this is a great shout. The artwork is all about knowing nods to the city’s Soviet past – or full the ultimate nostalgic Estonian experience ask staff for the ‘küpsisekook’, a classic local dessert created by stacking biscuits and cream. Sweet.
15 Soo, Kalamaja
The word ‘speakeasy’ gets bandied about a lot these days. But you really have to know just where to look to find this underground gem. Head to the address (12 Pärnu maantee) a few hours before for best results. Jot down the number, ring around 7:30pm to book a table. They’ll tell you the rest. It’s worth dressing up, at least a bit, for the pleasure of waitstaff who know every ingredient on the menu back to front, and high-end tipples like the 'Hula Lula' with mezcal, pimento dram and turmeric cordial. You’ll soon get why Whisper Sister is worth keeping hush-hush.
12 Pärnu maantee, Vanalinn
If you’re in the mood for a Gigantic Whopping Great Night On The Tiles and simply nothing less will suffice, Club Studio has got you covered. Divided into two rooms, one aimed at the basics with radio-friendly floor fillers and another that aspires to be just a little more challenging, the club offers just the right blend of glamorous excess and hedonistic scruffiness. The sound system slaps, the booze is free-pour and your fellow revellers will be decidedly larger than life.
1 Sauna, Vanalinn