Typical Cologne beer is called "Kölsch" and served in bars around town in small glasses, called "Stangen", of 0.2l. That way the beer is always fresh and cold. Don't worry, waiters will be fast to bring you a new one once your old one is (almost) finished. In more traditional bars and especially the breweries, the waiter (called "Köbes" in local language) will even hand you a fresh Kölsch without being asked, so it is easy to lose track of how much you drank. He will put a pencil line on your coaster for each beer that you drank, this will be the basis for your bill, so do not lose it! To stop the beer from coming, leave your glass almost half full until you have asked for the bill or put your coaster on top of your empty glass.
If you buy bottled Kölsch, take either "Reissdorf", "Früh", "Gaffel" or "Mühlen", which are rated highest by Cologne citizens. Those looking for a beer with a little more bitterness might like to try Küppers (there are about 30 more brands).
There are so many bars and pubs to choose from that you could spend most of the night going from one bar to the next. A really great bar is the Irish Pub, Flanagan's, in Altstadt located down below a building. Almost everybody speaks English in there if that's what you are looking for, and they have a really great Karaoke night on Sundays. The clientele is very friendly.
For a comprehensive list, see, bars listed on the right.
For traditional breweries, head to the Altstadt around the Dom, where the "Früh Kölsch" brewery is the most famous, both with visitors and locals. You will find a younger crowd at "Hellers Brauhaus" on Roonstraße, near metro station Zülpicher Platz or "Brauhaus Pütz" on Engelbertstraße close to Rudolfplatz. Furthermore the "Päffgen", on the all-bar street Friesenstraße close to the Friesenplatz, and the "Mühlen" near Heumarkt are traditional brewery pubs but less touristy than the "Früh". Also recommended is "Sion", which is a lesser known brand, but hailed to be very good, although some beer enthusiasts have found it lacking character from 2007 on. Most Altstadt pubs are somewhat scorned as "tourist traps" by locals, however: prices here are usually higher than e.g. on Zülpicher Straße.
There are a lot of modern bars and lounges all around town. More mainstream ones are on Zülpicher Straße. For something more independent and funky on this street, try Umbruch (funky) or Stiefel (punky). The Low Budget on Aachener Straße next to Moltkestraße metro is a nice, unassuming, punky bar which features a fine selection of drinks and often hosts concerts, poetry or cabaret sessions.
A lot of stylish places are in the so-called Belgian quarter between Aachener Straße and the Ring, e.g. famous M20 or the Hallmackenreuther.
A secret Tip are the Bars of the alternative Szene in Cologne. Those you may find the most in Ehrenfeld, like the "Underground", or the "Sonic Ballroom", and in the Südstadt, for instance the "Tsunami Club" and the little pub "Lotta", but also in the famous Kwartier Lateng, which is near the University of Cologne, around the Barbarossaplatz, at the Zülpicher Straße and the Kyffhäuser Straße. If you are searching for something more rough, you may find some nice places to rock and roll, on the Schäl Sick in the cityparts Kalk, east from the Kölnarena, like the little Trash Chic bar in the Wiersbergstreet, and in Mülheim, north from the Kölner Messe the little St. Pauli fanszene pub called "Limes", at the Mülheimer Freiheit street, near the Wiener Platz. But, this places are better to be known visited by the younger and not so rich people. So take care of your pockets.
Cafe OscarHohenstaufenring 25Awesome Italian restaurant that has a long running special of cheap cocktails after 5PM most nights, and pizza / pasta dishes for 3-4 daily before 6PM. Great place for lunch or an early dinner, and also a good base to kick off a night out. Staff are very friendly and generally speak English, and the food is excellent, as are the cocktails.
"Bar Orange" - on Sudermannplatz, near Ebertplatz. Great atmosphere and great cocktails, or just a beer and a lively chat with Milan, the resident philosopher, or Rainer and Arash, experts on local goings on.
Blue Lounge PartyEvery third Saturday, at the Brgerhaus Stollwerck in Dreiknigenstrasse 23. Starts at 2200, tickets 5 . Percussion-, Brazil-, balearic- and deep house, techno, trance. A must for people who like this kind of music. #TAUSEND BarAachener Strasse 57 (Moltkestrae metro): various events & music, nice bar styled by design students from the Kln International School of Design (KISD). Bodycheck PartyEvery second Saturday at the Filmhaus Kln on Maybachstrasse 111, metro station Hansaring. House, techno, always very good video projections. 3KlangOn Ehrenfeldgrtel 127, metro station Venloer Str./Grtel. Every third Friday, 2200-0500. Blue Lounge BarOn Mathiasstrasse, lesbian bar. Off-shoot of the very successful party mentioned above.
Basswerk Session, bi-monthly, the second Saturday at GEBÄUDE 9, Deutz-Mülheimer Strasse 127-129 (tram 3 or 4, stop at KölnMesse/Osthallen), 2300–0500. Long-running and popular drum 'n' bass party in a defunct funky factory hall. Resident DJs often invite renowned guest DJs from the international d'n'b fringe. Alternates bi-monthly with the similar "Phonogenic" party in the same venue.
Art Of House PartyOnce a month, the second or third Saturday at Stadtgarten in Venloer Strasse 40 (Hans-Bckler Platz metro): nice and really crowded house Party, guests around 25. Funky Chicken ClubEvery Friday at Opernterassen next to the opera (Appellhofplatz metro): Cologne House Party since 16 years in a beautiful venue, always crowded, good House and Electronic Music. Apropo*, good Partys on Fridays and Saturdays with Soul, Funk, Disco and Hip Hop in a cosy venue located in Im Dau 17 (Ulrepforte or Severinstrasse metro) easy guests from 20 years on.
Sixpack* The place to be in 2011! Located in the vibrant Belgisches Viertel (Aachener Strasse 33 - next to Rudolfplatz) you should be aware to wait long or even get rejected especially at a late hour. Mixed music from Electro to Indie with a huge variety of bottled beer.
Subway*, various parties from Hip Hop, Electro to Indie music with a hip but laid back audience (Moltkestrasse metro - next to Rudolfplatz). Underground* on Vogelsanger Str. 200, metro station Venloer Str./Grtel. Famous for concerts and partys with Rock, Metal, Punk and alternative music. Guests vary between 15 and 45. Alter Wartesaal* nifty bar and disco right beside the central station: various events & exclusive Parties Die Werkstatt* Houses clubs and concerts in an industrial area in Ehrenfeld. Agenda Suicide Club* Monthly club, moves around a lot. Plays acid, electro, indie and much more.