All summer long, hard-to-find bars around Budapest have been offering some of the best cocktails in Europe. Here are some of the city’s most underrated gems.
Art in the City Hotel at Aurora Gallery
What: A modern hotel tucked behind the Art in the City Gallery, here you’ll find craft beer on tap, wine with some fancy nibbles, schnapps and a wide variety of bartenders of Hungarian origin.
Whiskey in the City Hotel at General Xilos Bar
What: The city’s first whiskey bar, General Xilos attracts regulars across the country and beyond who enjoy a double shot of Grand Staircase Rye with a beer at their desks.
Budapest whiskey bar Bart’d
What: A spot where for seven days a week those not exclusively drinking whiskey can have something decidedly richer to kick back with: Hâkti Cheese and mixed grain drinks.
Ott, the German bartender behind Molotov, specializes in flights of five cocktails: orange and blood orange, oatmeal stout and smoked rye, butter whiskey and vanilla bitters and dark coffee and beet vodka.
Budapest Cocktail Bar
What: Get an introduction to the city’s most important drink, mazán, or mýrád, by watching Bruno Beczao and friends pour china goblets of the drink they’ve come to love into small drinking vessels.
How: Mix a glass of Hungarian coffee or grappa with mint, astragó or a spice rub, whiskey and ground black pepper and sit back with a satisfying beer or shot of vermouth.
The night closes with bartenders pouring a big variety of beers, nibbles, cocktails and small plates.
The best way to enjoy mazán for an evening is with barmen at the bar. A few great recommendations: Kozaria Szombath and the online magazine Kikka News, which has a fantastic Instagram account.
The best place to sample the freshest coffee and temperatures in the city is Balyasny.
What: A long, handsome, complex cocktail bar in the center of the city with welcoming bartenders serving small plates and cocktails, which change weekly.
American art lovers will want to take note of the Café at the end of Avkerland, which offers one of the region’s most impressive collections of local paintings.
The best cocktails here are created with Pusztai — a liqueur which dates to the end of the 14th century and is believed to be as good as bourbon. Más, which means “to drink,” is made with both.
What: Steeped in centuries of European history, its first bar in 1805 is one of the last places where former Emperor Franz Joseph I would have gone for a drink.
The bartender, who has a flair for words, regularly invites six or seven ladies a week for a drink “a recipe of my life,” which requires a “great deal of enthusiasm for the flavor of the alcohol,” he says.
The women bring back fond memories of the get-together. “I often get sad when I think about the fact that I won’t have a chance to join them,” the bartender recently told us.