If you're serious about your drinks, head over to Boutiq Bar. This upscale cocktail bar, which opened in 2008 and is hiding on a quiet side street near the city center, pioneered Budapest's craft cocktail movement under the helm of energetic owner Zoltán Nagy. With maroon-colored walls and dim lighting, speakeasy vibes fill this two-story drinking den. The skilled bartenders, each of whom go through a rigorous training process before being permitted behind the bar, serve the drinks with a laser-like focus and a bit of theatrics.
The cocktail menu features a dozen or so of Boutiq Bar's own concoctions, but the bartenders will also make a classic Manhattan or Sazerac if that's more your speed. For a local angle, try the Zwack Negroni, which swaps the gin for Unicum, an iconic Hungarian herbal liquor.
Boutiq Bar isn't cheap—most of the cocktails are in the €9-11 range—but the place can stand up to any contemporary cocktail bar around the world, both in terms of ambience and the staff's knowledge. Advance booking is recommended for Fridays and Saturdays. Cash only!