It's only been a decade since the craft cocktail movement began in Budapest, yet dark cocktail dens with speakeasy vibes and bow tie-wearing bartenders have already spread across town. Discerning drinkers can sip on expertly prepared Manhattans or ambitious contemporary concoctions, some of them made with local Hungarian liquors and spirits. The only bad news is that the price points aren't exactly wallet-friendly.
If you're serious about your drinks, head over to Boutiq Bar. This cocktail bar, which opened in 2008 and is hiding on a quiet side street near the city center, pioneered Budapest's craft cocktail movement. With maroon-colored walls and dim lighting, speakeasy vibes fill this two-story drinking den. The skilled bartenders serve the drinks with a laser-like focus and a bit of theatrics.
Hotsy Totsy is a dimly-lit, below-ground craft cocktail bar in Budapest's party district. Instead of a fixed menu, bartenders prepare bespoke drinks based on customers' taste preferences. For example, if you tell them you like Fernet-Branca, they’ll offer up a Hanky Panky (gin, sweet vermouth, Fernet) without a moment’s hesitation, along with a complementary shot of Fernet’s Menta line. They’re similarly well-versed in contemporary cocktails - my Penicillin was as good as the ones I've had in New York City, the drink’s birthplace.
High Note Sky Bar offers some of the most spectacular rooftop views in Budapest. To get to the bar, you will need to walk through the sumptuous, over-the-top lobby of the five-star Aria boutique hotel and take the elevator to the top floor. The panorama is truly stunning: the Liberty Statue, the Buda Castle, and the St. Stephen’s Basilica all appear within arm’s reach, which in case of the church is practically true..
Even among the numerous speakeasy-themed cocktail dens in Budapest, Black Swan tops the list for being the darkest and most exclusive. It’s one of those uppity places where heavy red drapes block the view from outside and whose private room draws the local moneyed and political elite. But it also offers some of the broadest drink selections in Budapest (bartenders have to use a sliding ladder to retrieve bottles from the top shelves), and if you enjoy a swanky experience it will be right up your alley..
WARMUP is a small cocktail bar in Budapest’s party district. What differentiates it from the other cocktail bars nearby is that there’s no menu here, and instead customers have to put themselves in the hands of the bartenders - you give them a few hints, and they take care of the rest. Do you enjoy rum with a spicy kick? A Dark 'n' Stormy (€7) is calling for you. Are you a Negroni fan but don't mind a little creativity? They'll swap the gin for silky Unicum Riserva (€11).
While Budapest's party district has long been teeming with specialized cocktail bars, downtown was a wasteland when it came to discerning drinking dens. Good Spirit Bar, which opened in 2017 on a quiet, cobblestone side street, filled a gaping void in downtown's lackluster bar landscape..
Tuk Tuk is a tiny, atmospheric cocktail bar on the ground floor of a boutique hotel (Casati) with a dark interior that evokes the decadent Shanghai of the 1920s. Being on a peaceful street just outside Budapest's party district, Tuk Tuk is a perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle just a few blocks away..
Kollázs Brasserie & Bar, which occupies the ground floor of the opulent Art Nouveau building of the Four Seasons Hotel, is a fine dining restaurant and cocktail bar with prime views onto Budapest's Castle Hill. The restaurant comes with a tasteful neo-Art Deco interior complete with marble, dark wood, and brass finishes, and is the type of place where dark-suited waiters scurry around with tableside carts and pricey bottles of wine..