If you're out for a night of drinking, don't go anywhere before 11 - or better yet midnight, when the real partying starts. Many bars offer happy hours till 9 or 10, but you might find yourself imbibing in solitary splendor. At the current rate of around 3 Argentine pesos to the dollar, beer or wine usually costs about $1.40 or $1.75, while mixed drinks are $3.50 to $5.55 at a fancier place. Since Argentina is a wine-producing country, the bars, even the divey-looking ones, serve a decent glass.
The city government closed all boliches (as discothèques are known here) after a fire at a nightclub in another part of the city Dec. 30. Although the shutdown was supposed to end on Jan. 18, the city extended the ban until the clubs met new safety rules. They are now reopening a few at a time.
You can start the night at the lively Plaza Serrano (which is officially called Plaza Cortázar). Just west of the square, Bar 6, Armenia 1676 (54-11) 4833-6807, is a cool place to go for a meal and a drink. A cavernous space with minimal décor and an arched roof reminiscent of an airplane hangar, the bar keeps its door locked at all times. Just stand outside and look insistent.
Mundo Bizarro, Guatemala 4802, (54-11) 4773-1967, was a pioneer in Palermo Soho. Dim red lighting give the bar a film-noirish feel while the whimsically named drinks add a lighter touch. Monday night is sushi night; the rest of the time you can order a burger to accompany your Holiday to Cambodia (rum, ginger, grapefruit juice and fizzy water) or Acid Lounge (Jagermeister, Cointreau and lime juice). If you sit at the bar, you can ponder the inlaid drawings of mock superheroes and other surreal characters, done by Argentine artists like Lucas Varela.
Acabar, Honduras 5733, (54-11) 4772-0845, is a warren of rooms tricked out in what look like someone's grandmother's trinkets. The sinks in the women's bathroom rest on Singer sewing machine stands, plastic cherubim and toys decorate the walls and the tables are lined with pink, white and green plastic in a rose print, or alternatively, with metallic lam cloths in a variety of hues .
Not far away, Sonoman, Fitz Roy 1655, (54-11) 4771-5435, is a classic, laid-back joint, where, if you are of a certain age and temperament, you can indulge in a little nostalgia listening to the bar owner's favorites - the Smiths, Joy Division and Depeche Mode. It is one of many gay-friendly bars in the neighborhood. Unico, (54-11) 4775-6693, opposite, is extremely popular at the moment. It is usually crowded, but try and snag an outdoor table so you can get a good look at the black-clad and well-coiffed Porteños in their 20's and 30's.