The 8 Best Cocktail Bars Budapest

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 classics, or 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 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.

#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, 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.

#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 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.

#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, but if you enjoy a swanky experience it will be right up your alley. Black Swan has some of the broadest drink selections in Budapest—bartenders have to use a sliding ladder to retrieve bottles from the top shelves.

#5 WARMUP Cocktail Bar

WARMUP is a small craft cocktail bar in Budapest’s party district. What differentiates it from the other drinking dens nearby is that there’s no menu here; 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), a local liqueur. You can also simply just say "sweet," "sour," or "dry," and you're unlikely to be disappointed by the result.

#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 of this dark drinking den.

#7 Kollázs Brasserie & Bar (Four Seasons Hotel)

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. It's the type of place where dark-suited waiters scurry around with tableside carts and pricey bottles of wine. The interior is furnished in a tasteful neo-Art Deco style, complete with marble, dark wood, and brass finishes.

#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 dens. 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.