Rivadavia 846, Buenos Aires, Argentina
As an Argentinean who pilgrimages back home every couple of years, I have been pretty lazy in exploring bars around the country’s capital, Buenos Aires. This year, I am determined to at least visit one or two and report back.
It is hard to find or know about good bars if you are not to acquainted with the scene or the area. During my quest to find a rock bar, I stumble upon Red Bell Saloon located in the middle of Bohemian neighbourhood of San Telmo.
I arrive at the bar at around 8pm on a Thursday night as I normally would to any bar, however, I forget that when it comes to going out here there is a huge cultural difference. Thursday is not the first official drinking day of the week and barflies don’t go out until after 11pm. In fact, many of the bars I did find only opened on weekends and their doors were closed until 11pm.
As I enter the dimly lit bar, find myself in an nearly empty alcohol joint. However, I am not complaining too much, being summer, it is extremely hot so I am thankful not to be squashed up against people. I can’t help but getting a slight Big Red feel to to this bar, in the sense that it looks very Western-y and Biker-y, oh and it’s dark as fuck. The bar has two floors covered in wooden flooring and wooden tables. Upstairs there are a few booths and a pool table while downstairs you have the wooden bar, red leather sofas at the back and what seems to be a dancing pole. The whole bar is decorated with posters of bands, records, biker memorabilia and tickets of shows I assume the staff have gone to.
I head to the bar and try to catch the bartender’s eye, as she sings loudly. She seems nice, but has that air of ‘I am a tough rock chick, I don’t need to smile’ attitude which is frankly unneeded. My default, would have been to get a cider but they don’t have cider in Argentina -not the likes of Magners and Strongbow anyway. Seeing as they have nothing on draught, I quickly glance at the drinks behind the bar. They have a pretty good and wide selection of; whiskeys (including Argentinean elaborated whiskey ‘ Old Smuggler’), vodka, rum, racks of wines and fridges full of one litre beer bottles etc. Unaccustomed to ordering in Spanish I get stupidly nervous and just ask for a ‘Wiscola’.* If you rather a beer, you can get a litre for $100 pesos which is roughly the equivalent to £5, not bad if you ask me.
Besides the atmosphere being pretty quiet, I am disappointed with the music selection. Calling themselves a place for ‘The best of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal’, their playlist didn’t reflect that. Not only did I have to sit through countless national rock songs (which are pretty awful), the few international ones they played didn’t go further than the Rolling Stones, Queen and The Police. And while I love those bands you tend to hear them in any normal pub. Also why would you play Gwen Stefani and then Lenny Kravitz ‘Whole Lotta Love’ cover?! They do host special nights dedicated to different bands like Kiss and Motörhead and I am hoping those are slightly better.
I’m not immediately blown away by this bar mostly because the dead atmosphere and the music selection, but the bar had attitude so I would definitively recommend dropping by, perhaps to one of their themed nights. If you are at all in the area and can be tempted with a litre of beer and pizza, give it a go.