The best drinking is done underground.
Copenhagen features no shortage of dive bars to duck into when exploring the pedestrian-only walking routes throughout the city. Indre By, the heart of Copenhagen’s historic district includes all manner of luxury shopping destinations, making for an interesting combination of locals and tourists mixing in the heart of capitalism. Thankfully, there are also a few pockets of more interesting destinations, including a cluster of dive bars that includes both The Moose, star of the area, and Charlie’s Bar.
Knowing that the open-air dive bar just down the alley from The Moose is called Charlie’s Bar is a feat of memorization as the most prominent sign above the door reads Marston’s, not Charlie’s. The look is about as British as a dive bar can look along a Copenhagen side street, a handful of beer signs lining exterior and a small number of globe lamps extending into the alley. The beer selection inside ends up being more diverse than British offerings, but that certainly doesn’t change the aura given off by Charlie’s Bar.
During Copenhagen’s milder months, the window out front is left open, making for a pretty inviting dive bar sight in a combination of beer ledge for drinking outside and a sunken table in the window below it for scenic indoor drinking. Especially in Copenhagen, there are dive bars that take a more minimalist approach to décor. Charlie’s Bar is not one of those dive bars, with not only the walls papered with signage but the ceiling covered down to the inch with framed photos and posters.
The space is small and intimate, the sunken aspect of the dive bar playing into the sense that you’re drinking in a bit of a comfortable hovel. Low stools complement equally low tables, permanent benches running along the walls inside. A mounted stand for newspapers sits just inside the front door, giving way to walls filled with aging photos of drinking during days past. The intensity of the photographs along the ceiling is accentuated by the area directly over the bar that holds unused beer taps and mug club goblets.
British-style tabs run along the small bar area at the back of Charlie’s, including a couple of cask options pumped in the old-fashioned style from the basement. Surprisingly beautiful brick is left exposed behind the bar, one more aspect of the experience that contributes to the feeling of a dive bar cave below the streets of Copenhagen. There is enough room at the bar for three or four drinkers, the area extending toward the back wall of the dive bar housing another couple of tables. Here, the ceiling décor shifts from framed photos to accumulated coasters representing countless beers and breweries.
As a one-two punch, there are few dive bar combinations as potent as The Moose, a pure dive built around murals depicting the love between woman and moose, and Charlie’s Bar, a semi-subterranean dive bar as British as it gets for the streets of Denmark. That both offer just the right kind of refreshment in a perfect part of Copenhagen to offer it only adds to the potency of the duo.