Vienna’s seen a wave of change in how bars craft both cocktails and the environments in which they’re consumed. Quality spirits are still key, naturally, but quality has also become important for the rest of the ingredients (which are now typically made fresh by the bar staff themselves). Cocktail mixology has become a science with barkeeps getting creative when putting together original booze concoctions.
We’ve gone on a cocktail crawl to bring you 7 of Vienna’s casual craft cocktail bars that are shaking things up & doing some damn original stuff. Oh, and before you check the list, watch the video below to see one of the bars on the list, Botanical Garden, at their craft.
The Birdyard – Vienna’s craft cocktail bars
Where: Lange Gasse 74, 1080
This 3-floor restaurant-bar hybrid on Lange Gasse in the 8th is a gastronomy baby by the same family that gave birth to the trendy Chinese hot pot spot, Mama Liu & Sons. The Birdyard Eatery & Bar features two floors that are all about eating and enjoying great food art. And while starting your evening with these small plated treats for the eyes and tastebuds is not a bad idea, you won’t understand the hype around this place until you go downstairs. Going down the dark staircase leading to the bar is like venturing into a dream, or a place in your subconscious where colourful giant birds leer down at you from everywhere. And don’t go thinking that’s just beautiful wallpaper – no, no, no – that’s a real painting, by Romanian artist Saddo, who spent 45 days working on it. For some reason, we feel like we’re in a pop song while sitting at the bar, watching the craft cocktail crew behind it whipping up their original creations.
The drinks on the menu go beyond your standard (while you can, of course, order all the cocktail bar classics, as well) with plenty or original house creations, like “Senses”, a vodka drink involving chili-apricot jam, pear, lime and piment, or the “San Andres” made with fresh Rucola, tabasco, passion fruit, raspberry and dark rum. Every guest is also treated with a special welcome shot and some homemade nuts (peanuts roasted with sugar and salt) to ease you into the night. There’s seating, or you can perch yourself up at one of the high stools and tables, but make sure to reserve your seats a few days in advance if you want to come by on the weekend – there’s no standing in the second row here. If the bar is full, it’s full. This is a place for cocktail connoisseurs and baby boozers, alike. Or those simply seeking a bar that feels like it’s out of some uptown slickster neighbourhood of New York.
Cocktails = 10–15€
Matiki – Vienna’s craft cocktail bars
Where: Gardegasse 2, 1070
Vienna’s first, and one and only, tiki bar is hidden away in a cellar bar on the Spittelberg’s Gardegasse. Inside, the interior and the cocktails will take you somewhere tropical, so don’t be ashamed to turn up in your Hula skirt or Hawaiian shirt (ok, actually, you should always be ashamed in a Hawaiian shirt). For those not familiar with the concept, a tiki bar – that has been experiencing something of a revival abroad – is a particular kind of bar that is inspired by a romantic ‘aloha’ idea of cultures from the tropics that typically serves up plenty of rum-based cocktails. Matiki ticks all of the boxes here, and goes one step further by serving up their rummy creations in cups shaped as totem poles. But it ain’t just all show here; the mixing crew know what they’re up to. The two brothers behind it, Matty and Arik Vinnitski, whose mad cocktail skills you might have come across already at known cocktail bars such as ‘If Dogs Run Free’, or ‘Miranda Bar,’ finally opened their own home of crafty cocktails.
The atmosphere is as comfy as your grandpa’s smoking slippers and so are the chairs. Meanwhile, whatever you choose out of the story book looking menu, the cocktails are fresh and colourful creations. We spent our time here slurping at a popular tiki classic known as a Navy Grog, which came with a bombardment of flavours and a cone ice cube bobbing about in it (we’re guessing it was a volcano). Second time around we got a original creation, Bombaclot (a mix of fresh fruit juices and a Jamaican rum) which had the effect of injecting the alcohol straight into our brain cells (meaning we got all giggly drunk). So if you’re into rum, this be your new haunt rummy.
Cocktails range between 9–15€
Krypt – Vienna’s craft cocktail bars
Where: Wasagasse 17, 1090
Word on the street has it that this is one of the most unique bars in town. We’re not going to confirm or refute that claim, but rather tell you some special deets’ about it. You have to ring a bell to get into Krypt, at which point you’ll be let in by some handsome bouncer. Give him a kiss on the cheek (this part isn’t obligatory, but we tend to do it anyway) and through you go, into a glass door and down some elegant stairs. At the bottom (or in the crypt), there’s a bar that’ll make you feel like you’re anywhere but in Vienna. Most of the place is made out of marble, while dark wood and bold paintings make up the rest of the eye-catching elements that keep your eyes busy. While the cocktails are pricey, you pay for what you get – the selection is vast and the drinks are damn tasty, and they won’t be what you expect.
Cocktails = up to 13€
Botanical Garden – Vienna’s craft cocktail bars
Where: Währinger Straße 6–8, 1090
10 years ago, your mobile phone had buttons on it and any place serving up a decent cocktail was a fancy kind of place that required you dressing the part. But the likes of the Botanical Garden cocktail bar is toning down the whole ordeal and putting the casual into cocktails. Plants greet you upon entry (which seems fitting) and if you look right, you’ll see an impressive wall mural above a bunch of sexy looking people (everybody looks sexy in this kind of dim lighting) sipping at cocktails. But these are no ordinary cocktails, but ones that are from the imagination of some very talented bar keeps.
In the dimly-lit insides of the bar, you’ll spot mixologists behind the bar shaking, stirring and working away on their science. The homemade syrups and essences lining the bar give you a good indication of how serious they take their cocktail creativity here. The menu is exclusively signature and house creations, but they’ll gladly whip up one of the classics upon request. Also they have one of the best lists of gin and tonic variations in the city.
The place looks as classy as f***. Just picture some hotty out of the 1920s, smoking a cigarette all sexy-like, with a bunch of tattoos on their upper arms – and you’ve got Botanical Garden.
Mr Mendez – Vienna’s craft cocktail bars
Where: Karlsplatz 2, 1010
This craft cocktail haunt is a speakeasy kind of deal hidden behind the increasingly popular cosy cafe, Cafe Mendez. Behind the cafe, there some crazy stuff happening with cocktails by the talented bar keeps at this place which we think is one of the best undiscovered places in the city. With its interior inspired by Mexico, there’s already a festive buzz without the cocktails. But the festive feeling heightens to new levels when your cocktail arrives, whether its the Mary Jane cocktail served up in a bong, or one the cocktail served up in the Franz Josef Lucha Libre babushka doll. Preparing all of their own homemade ingredients, the cocktails you can expect fresh, original creations at Mister Mendez.
The service is done by some of the friendliest bar staff you’ll meet in this city and the street art mural on the back wall is enough reason alone to check this place out.
Most cocktails hover around 9.50€
Clandestino – Vienna’s craft cocktail bars
Where: Stubenring 18, 1010 (behind Mercado)
We’re not going to tell you too much about this hot new place as it’s a speakeasy and a speakeasy bar is always best experienced for the first time without any existing knowledge or pictures in your head. All we’ll tell you is that this place is one of the newest speakeasy bars in town that has set up its operation behind the Latin American inspired restaurant, Mercado, on Stubenring. Expect Latino vibes in Clandestino, plus, we’ve heard it first-hand from those that know their cocktails – the craft cocktail stuff happening behind the bar here is impressive. Looking to impress a date anytime soon with your insider knowledge, this is the place you take them.