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World's best bars 2009

The world’s cities can be divided into two categories: the early-to-bed types and the party animals. You know the former – places that are steeped in history and tradition but are no fun at night. The party towns, however, brim with youth and creativity and come alive after dark. Here are our top five picks.

There's no point trying to keep it secret any more - Melbourne rocks, especially after dark. The city at night is an energetic, enigmatic playground and its thriving arts scene, diverse restaurants and legendary bars entice locals and visitors alike. The "in" places come and go with amazing speed, but for a taste of Marvellous Melbourne now, catch a show at Toff in Town, graze at Matt McConnell's Iberian Bar Lourinhã, then climb the stairs to Siglo for moonlit cocktails overlooking Parliament House. Toff in Town, 2/252 Swanston St, 03 9639 8770. Bar Lourinhã, 37 Little Collins St, 03 9663 7890. Siglo, 2/161 Spring Street, 03 9654 6300.

Indonesia's most resilient island has bounced back stronger, more secure, and more determined than ever to have a good time. Steamy August is peak party season, when the in-crowd dines beside the waves at La Lucciola in Legian, or heads to the reborn Ku De Ta in Seminyak for sundown cocktails on the beach and vintage wines and Champagne on the sharp new upper deck. Seminyak's eat street, Jalan Oberoi, is lined with fashionable restaurants - Moroccan, Japanese, you name it - and designer bars that feel more like private clubs. La Lucciola, Kayu Aya Beach, Legian, +62 361 730 838, bookings essential. Ku De Ta, Jalan Laksmana 9, Seminyak, +62 361 736 969.

The Lebanese capital is peaceful once more and Beirut's youth are making sure their battered city is back on its feet and kicking up its heels. The fashionable quarters are teeming with luxury wheels and flash clothes, and the buzz is all about the hottest new bars and coolest clubs. This is a town that takes going out seriously, so slip into your finest threads, then head to Monot Street in Ashrafieh, a one-way strip of nocturnal excess. There's always high-glitz action at the seafront clubs lining the Corniche (try to bluff your way onto the VIP deck at the Riviera Beach Club, Avenue de Paris, Corniche al Manara), or head east to Gouraud Street in Gemmayze, a gentrifying area crammed with small bars and eateries.

Italians rarely get drunk in public - it's not "buon costume", not a good look - but they sure know how to party. Hidden in Rome's ancient centre you'll find a neon-lit outpost of the elite Supperclub franchise housed in a Roman villa; the Hotel de Russie's glamorous Stravinskij Bar, watering hole of choice for Hollywood stars during Rome's annual International Film Festival; and Ketumbar, an Asian-fusion restaurant and lounge bar housed in a former papal wine cellar. Supperclub, Via de' Nari 14, +39 06 688 07 207. Stravinskij Bar, Hotel de Russie, Via del Babuino 9, +39 06 32 88 81. Ketumbar, Via Galvani 24, Testaccio, +39 06 573 05 338.

The city that never sleeps is renowned for comedy, jazz and rich cultural life generally, but it's the clubs that will keep you out until dawn. Start off with cocktails at 230 Fifth, NYC's biggest roof terrace, with views across the Hudson to the Statue of Liberty, while you decide where to go. The hottest ticket is still the Meatpacking District, but there are ample alternatives: East Village is known for intimate bars and live music venues, Soho is try-hard trendy, and the West Village and Chelsea offer a gay old time. Brace yourself for weekend cover charges of up to $30. 230 Fifth, 230 Fifth Ave, +1 212 725 4300.

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