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Top 10 bars of the world

A cellar in Paris or a sky bar in Bangkok? Effortless Mediterranean white or midnight samba in downtown Rio? Here are som of your favourite bars of all time
Chez Georges, Paris

1. Chez Georges, Paris

A dingy, smoky cellar bar. Walking into Chez Georges is like finding yourself on the set of a Truffaut film. It's full of effortlessly cool people who don't seem to be up themselves, which of course makes them seem even cooler. Early evening everyone is huddled round tiny tables drinking red wine out of glass tumblers or squeezed on to sofas. Come closing time the floor is a mass of flailing limbs and nodding heads.

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Mary McBride's, Northern Ireland

2. Mary McBride's, Northern Ireland

The Antrim coast is more spectacular than Big Sur in California - according to a recent survey by Jacob's Creek. And Cushendun is one of the prettiest villages along the 23-mile route. Stop off there and you'll inevitably end up in Mary McBride's. Once the smallest pub in the world, it was extended after Mary died. The décor is nothing special but the setting is - on the mouth of the river Dun and within staggering distance of a white sandy beach. I go here with my boyfriend, whose dad lives a few doors up. But I'd feel perfectly comfortable having a drink here on my own (even if Mary wouldn't approve).

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Vesuvio, San Francisco

3. Vesuvio, San Francisco

Next door to the most famous bookshop in the world, Vesuvio was a favourite Beat hangout. It could easily have turned into a tacky tourist trap but instead it's retained its bohemian vibe and still hosts poetry readings and Art in the Alley events (that's Jack Kerouac Alley, which runs between the bar and the bookshop). If you were feeling pretentious you could pick up a book next door and come in here to read, surrounded by photos of Kerouac, Dylan Thomas and Ginsberg. Or you could just get stuck into the drinks. A new menu of organic wines, beers and spirits, including Square One, a rye vodka that comes in a recycled-glass bottle, means you'll wake up with an eco-friendly hangover.

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OJ's restaurant and beach bar, St John's, Antigua

4. OJ's restaurant and beach bar, St John's, Antigua

We'd been staying in the sleek, ever-so tasteful Carlisle Bay hotel when we found this place, 10 minutes along the coast. It could hardly be more different. A rickety shack on a prime stretch of beach, it looks like it would fall down at the faintest whisper of a breeze. OJ told me he'd been offered silly amounts of money by real-estate agents but he refuses to sell up. There's nothing fancy about this place - if you want fancy, pop into the Carlisle for Asian-fusion canapés and cocktails. At OJ's you sit with your feet in the sand and a Carib beer in your hand - just the way it should be.

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Rooftop bar, Rex Hotel, Vietnam

5. Rooftop bar, Rex Hotel, Vietnam

The Rex is the epitomy of kitsch but not in an annoying, post-modern way. The palm trees, plastic flowers, lurid cocktails and lounge music - courtesy, on our visit, of a three-piece band resplendent in Hawaiian shirts - are supremely naff but a pleasant change for anyone sick of bland, beige minimalism. At night the traffic becomes a blur of multi-coloured lights and the ever-present sound of moped horns floats up.

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Sirocco bar and restaurant, Bangkok, Thailand

6. Sirocco bar and restaurant, Bangkok, Thailand

Another rooftop bar ...same same but different. Atop the Bangkok State Tower, the city's second-highest skyscraper, Sirocco attracts glammed-up Thais and ex-pats happy to pay a premium for drinks with a view. Stepping out of the lift at the 63rd floor is a bit like going on a particularly scary theme-park ride - terrifying but exhilarating. I had to get my friend to bring me a very stiff drink before I would go anywhere near the bar which is cantilevered over thin air. I couldn't relax so high up but it was amazing to watch the city lights twinkling a million miles below.

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Puro Beach, Palma, Mallorca

7. Puro Beach, Palma, Mallorca

I didn't want to like Puro. Too self-consciously trendy with its dazzling white loungers and parasols, ambient house tunes and designer waiters but I couldn't help it. It's like a little slice of Miami has been airlifted and plonked on the Mallorcan coast. I went with my friend Jo - we were en route to the airport and decided to stop off at Puro to prolong the holiday. The staff didn't look very impressed when we rocked up with our rucksacks but they were too polite to say anything. A couple of mojitos later we'd stopped caring whether we looked glamorous enough and were tempted to accidentally miss our flight home.

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8. No Shoes Club, Baie de Somme, France

No shoes is a gem. Hidden behind sand dunes, it's basically a garden shed with a tiny make-shift kitchen, a few tables and chairs in the sand and a scattering of cushions arranged under awnings. People come here to hire sand yachts - behind those dunes is the vast Baie de Somme, a 14km bay, which at low tide becomes a shimmering desert of wet sand. The less active come for lunch - the menu is pretty basic, just a few salads and ice-cream for pudding but fresh and tasty. It's open all year round - in winter for hot drinks after blustery walks along the beach, in summer for languid afternoons that disappear in a lovely rose-induced haze.

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Rio Scenarium, Rua do Lavradio, Brazil

9. Rio Scenarium, Rua do Lavradio, Brazil

Think Rio and you picture caipirinhas on the beach. In fact there are hardly any beach bars. At night the in-crowd head away from the beach to Lapa - a sort of Brazilian Hoxton, arty and a bit edgy. There's a string of bars to choose from but my favourite was Rio Scenarium. Arranged over three floors of a dilapidated warehouse and stuffed with antiques and movie props from suits of armour to old bicycles, it attracts a mixed crowd of all ages who come to practise their samba moves. Even awkward English girls with no sense of rhythm end up dancing.

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Smoke bar and diner, Tooting, London

10. Smoke bar and diner, Tooting, London

Smoke makes it into my top 10 because it's a two-minute walk from my house. Simple as that. Actually it's not a bad bar and it's certainly the best in Tooting - modern with retro fittings and fixtures and friendly staff. It looks small from the front but the back has just been extended making room for more leather sofas. A great meeting point for early evening drinks before heading down Tooting High Road - aka south London's Brick Lane - in search of curry.

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