The Dark Bars of Valparaíso

Bar Inglés down on Calle Cochrane seems to be a little known institution here in Valparaíso.  It’s been here for 101 years and is emblematic of this port’s history and enduring British connections. However, despite the walls plastered with pictures of British royalty, both monarchal and musical – Stones, Beatles and the Queens of England, Freddie, David, Elton and oh, Liz herself, through every decade – not a single word of English is spoken here but they’re super friendly and eager to chat. The drinks are free-pour and I mean FREE POUR. The hand-written cocktail list is a hoot with seemingly made-up drinks provided by regulars who, by the way, upon becoming a regular, get a high-ball glass etched with their name, kept behind the bar.

On the way home through the port, there are many dark bars (our coinage), mostly with unobtrusive small entrances that escape the light and heat of the day (in summer) whilst inside, their dark, narrow, atmospheric and companionable spaces are largely empty, aside from a few die-hard regulars, the obligatory gatto (cat – they all look the same here) and the occasional group of men playing chess in a shadowy corner. Again, not a word of English spoken but we’ve found these places super friendly for a pit-stop of cerveza and mani (salted peanuts) on the way home. They are Chile’s answer to hygge.

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