One of the venues that makes the Beirut neighbourhood of Gemayzeh what it is, Bar Louie opened up in 2004 when there was just one other bar nearby, and helped to revolutionize the area. An alternative space with alternative music – jazz, soul and bluegrass – and an alternative menu of Spanish tapas and cocktails, it typifies this part of town. It’s a relaxed funky venue, so downbeat and low-key it could be an urban underground joint in Amsterdam rather than Beirut. Bar Louie’s long rectangular shape filled with wood tables and soft red couches is topped off by an old-school Beirut vaulted stone ceiling reminiscent of a wine cellar. Once every couple of months Najib, the owner, will bring in top-name international performers to play. With a monopoly it owes to its unique style, it attracts a good crowd that’s into the music – which makes it all the more worthwhile.