(Editor’s Note: we first ran this roundup last summer, but we’re bringing it back for those who may have not found it in our archive.)
The mojito may go the way of the grasshopper and other forgotten cocktails, but a cold beer accompanied by a panoramic view of the waters and hills of Istanbul will never go out of style. Though the guidebooks may steer you elsewhere, we’ve compiled a short list of lesser-known but equally rewarding spots to have a drink while keeping an eye on the city.
Under most circumstances, we wouldn’t recommend drinking under a bridge, but Dersaadet offers spectacular views of the Old City from its perch under the Galata Bridge, right at the junction of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus. Here we like to blow the froth off of a few while fisherman above reel in little fish right past our table.
Address: First café on the northeast (Karaköy side) side of the Galata Bridge, Karaköy
Buyuk Londra Oteli
This quirky, cult classic hotel is a great place to swill all year-round. With its eclectic clientele, you might be elbow to elbow with a video artist from Berlin or a Macedonian diplomat. The low-key terrace bar is a perfect spot for a sundowner, without paying the premium for the Golden Horn views.
Address: Mesrutiyet Caddesi. No: 117, Tepebaşı
The street side tables of this funky Beyoglu Thai restaurant benefit from a perfect position for sunsets over the Golden Horn. We are not sure what they put in those big blue cocktails they serve, but it certainly does the trick while soaking in the late afternoon sun.
Address: Meşrutiyet Ave. No:51 Tepebaşı
Telephone: +90 212 292 64 96
website: www.cokcok.com.tr 
Asma Altı Café Bar
One of our favorite pit stops in Beyoglu’s fish market, Asma Altı’s outdoor tables offer a window onto the bustling, if rough and tumble, social life of the Balık Pazar. From here, watch as butchers feeds scrap meat to seagulls, old ladies haggle with the fruit vendor for a kilo of cherries, the lottery man hocks a chance and a steady stream of transvestites sashay by.
Address: Kalyoncu Kulluk Caddesi 13/a, Beyoglu
Despite the décor inspired by Miami Vice and the tony Ortaköy address, Banyan is a surprisingly mellow place to have a drink and take it all in. The bar itself seems to hang over the Bosphorus, offering unmatched views up and down the strait, from Ortaköy all the way down to the Old City. A cocktail will set you back $15-20, so nurse it while you memorize the priceless view.
Address: Muallim Naci Cad. Salhane Sk. No:3 (beside the Ortaköy İskelesi), Ortaköy
Website: www.banyanrestaurant.com 
The open terrace at Zeyrekhane is a great spot to get up close and personal with the Byzantine brickwork of the monastery-cum-Mosque of Zeyrek. Overlooking the Golden Horn, the sublime Suleymaniye Mosque and across to Galata and Istanbul’s historic peninsula in the distance, this unusual Old City locale offers some very rewarding vistas. Though frequented by large tour groups, there’s plenty of room for everyone on the huge terrace.
Address: Sinanağa Mahallesi İbadethane Arkası Sokak No: 10, Zeyrek-Fatih
Though self-catering in public places is not exactly encouraged in Istanbul, it is not forbidden either. Casual drinkers of all ages prefer two outdoor spots in the Cihangir neighborhood for their awe-inspiring views of the Bosphorus and the monuments of the Old City and for their peaceful surroundings – all for the price of the package goods and a newspaper to sit on.
Address: Batarya Sokak (stairs next to building #1) & Iliyas Celebi Sokak (next to the Cihangir Mosque)