The 8 Best Cocktail Bars Budapest

It's only been a decade since the craft cocktail movement was set in motion in Budapest, yet dark cocktail dens with speakeasy vibes and bow tie-wearing bartenders seem to be all the rage across town. Discerning drinkers can sip both expertly prepared classics and contemporary concoctions, some of them made with local Hungarian liquors. The only bad news is that the price points aren't exactly wallet-friendly.

#1 Boutiq Bar

If you're serious about your drinks, head over to Boutiq Bar. This upscale cocktail den, 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 the snug two-story space. Each of the bartenders go through a rigorous training process before being permitted behind the bar; they serve the drinks with a laser-like focus and a bit of theatrics.

#2 Hotsy Totsy Bar

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, the Italian amaro, they’ll offer a Hanky Panky (gin, sweet vermouth, Fernet) without a moment’s hesitation, perhaps along with a complimentary shot of Fernet’s Menta line.

#3 High Note Sky Bar

High Note Sky Bar offers some of the most spectacular rooftop views in Budapest. To get to the bar, you'll need to walk through the sumptuous, a bit 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.

#4 Black Swan

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 elite—if you enjoy an upscale experience, it will be right up your alley.

#5 WARMUP Bar

WARMUP is a small craft cocktail bar in Budapest’s party district best known for operating without a fixed menu; 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 in order for you. Are you a Negroni fan but don't mind a little creativity? They'll swap the gin for silky Unicum Riserva (€11), a local liqueur. You can also simply just utter a few flavors like "sweet," "sour," or "dry," and you're unlikely to be disappointed by what they concoct for you.

#6 Tuk Tuk Bar

Tuk Tuk is a tiny craft cocktail bar on the ground floor of the Casati boutique hotel. Being on a quiet street just outside Budapest's party district, Tuk Tuk is a perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle a few blocks away. Old photos and heavy crimson drapes evoke the hedonistic culture of the 1920s Shanghai inside this dark drinking den.

#7 Kollázs Brasserie & Bar (Four Seasons Hotel)

Kollázs Brasserie & Bar is a fine dining restaurant and cocktail bar on the ground floor of the swanky Four Seasons Hotel Budapest. The restaurant, which is inside a beautiful Art Nouveau building, offers prime views onto Budapest's Castle Hill. It's the type of place where dark-suited waiters scurry around with tableside carts and pricey bottles of Bordeaux while soft jazz is drifting from the speakers. There's a discernible air of affluence here but without the stiffly formal setting of a fine dining restaurant.

#8 Good Spirit Bar

While Budapest's party district has long been teeming with specialized cocktail bars, downtown was a wasteland when it came to discerning drinking joints. Good Spirit Bar, which opened in 2017 on a quiet cobblestoned side street, filled this gaping void in downtown's lackluster bar landscape.

Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito and pays for his own meals and drinks.