Dining
16+1 Budapest cocktail bars for sipping with intoxicating style
Photo : LaszloBalkanyi photography/Pharma
16+1 Budapest cocktail bars for sipping with intoxicating style

It is a misbelief that the mojito is the king of cocktails, and that classy y-shaped glasses only appear in films. Bar culture is a beautiful branch of gastronomy, and Budapest boasts an ever-increasing number of bars where masterful mixers make old-fashioned cocktails, martinis, juleps, and daiquiris alike. The proud selection stretches from an elegant hotel bar through the “laboratory” of mad experimenters and sexy surprises, to a bar that evokes Mediterranean memories. The essence lies in trusting our bartender, who can always tailor a drink to our taste, especially at the following places.

Blue Fox The Bar – the exclusive Boutiq’ Bar – the master Buddha Bar – the Asian mystique Deák St. Kitchen – the flavorful fusion Impostor – the cheeky Jamie’s Italian – the Italian KIOSK – the cosmopolitan Kollázs – the Art Deco Le Jardin – the charming NANO – the chemist Pharma – the daring Spíler Shanghai – the sensual Tuk Tuk Bar – the intimate Urban Tiger – the tropical (ceased) WarmUp – the ingenious WarmUp Rustic – the Mediterranean (ceased) +1: BpBARBq – the easygoing

Blue Fox The Bar – the exclusive

This bar is found inside the prestigious Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest, but it also operates as a separate establishment, which means that we do not necessarily have to be hotel guests to hang out at Blue Fox. However, thanks to its location, we can come across many intriguing people from around the world, and listen to truly special stories, as a hotel bar is always a mysterious venue that can bring about unexpected acquaintances. Under the close attention of head bartender Attila Felhősi, Blue Fox never rests, and welcomes thirsty guests even on holidays. Attila introduced a clever concept here: we can pick a drink from a foldable menu that holds everything from old-time favorites to modern drinks with a twist. The selection of special spices, fruits, and extracts seems endless here: plankton ash, chervil, raspberry caviar, and rose – these are all components that we can pretty much only find in Budapest at Blue Fox. Upon our visit, we warmed up with a shot of amaro, a herbal liqueur that is perfect for slow sipping. We tried the vivid and sexy Sazerac cocktail that is based on Hennessy, and is maneuvered into a “perfume bottle” with absinthe through a special smoking technique. Our next drink, Wonderland – that evokes Alice in Wonderland – is slightly tricky, as it comes in a colorful fairy-tale-like mug, but holds a smoky, masculine drink based on mescal inside. We also had the chance to try one of Attila’s newest concoctions that didn’t yet have a name, but if we could choose, we would name it “Zsazsa Gábor’s Kiss”.

Prices: from 2,160 HUF (+12% service fee)
Tips: Sazerac, Wonderland, Pick Me Up punch

Blue Fox The Bar

Boutiq’ Bar – the master

If there hadn’t been a Boutiq’ Bar in Budapest, this roundup would have never been written. Paulay Ede Street’s cocktail boudoir has been welcoming thirsty guests since 2008. Over the years since then, several talented bartenders started out from this hangout led by Zoli Nagy, which was named one of the world’s 50 best bars in 2012. It was a true pioneer, and still doesn’t rest, but instead pays great attention to every detail. A fun fact is that they also hold speech trainings to the staff every week, as communication skills are immensely important in this profession. Head bartender Roland Lukász is not only a great talker, but also a fast and talented expert who continuously improves his knowledge. He told us about a recent “study trip” to America, where he gained insight into a system where pre-concocted cocktails wait in bottles on the shelves in order to constantly maintain high-quality. However, at Boutiq’ Bar they make all seasonal drinks fresh, such as the Die Kaiser, which is a Unicum-based concoction enhanced with Morello Cherries and rhubarb bitters, or the Budapest Barbecue served in a can; it is a blend of gin, maple syrup, peach purée, and cranberry that we can devour adventurously, as they light the alcohol on fire on the top of our cocktail, and we can grill marshmallows above the flames.

Prices: from 1,950 HUF
Tips: Budapest Barbecue, Take Me Home
Boutiq’Bar

Buddha Bar – the Asian mystique

An elegant hotel calls for an elegant lounge in the case of Buddha Bar. At the bar of this world-famous hotel chain they pay extra attention to not only offering a wide assortment of shots from Asia, but to have a selection that also holds the favorites of guests from all around the world. However, their cocktail menu is inspired by special Eastern flavors, and they work with exotic fruits like lychee, rambutan, jackfruit, and kiwi. In the sake-based Raspberry Saketini, the sweetness of raspberry is balanced by the sourness of blackcurrant. Those who prefer something less sweet can try Kiwi Kukama, as in this drink kiwi is joined by elderflower, citrus, and cucumber.

Prices: from 2,300 HUF (+12% service fee)
Tips: Raspberry Saketini, La Quica, Plum Baby Plum

Buddha-Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace

Deák St. Kitchen – the flavorful fusion

Budapest’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel is complete with an excellent bar where traditional and experimental cocktails are created every night. Several foreigners frequent this hangout alongside locals, hence, here we find an abundance of alcoholic drinks with Hungarian roots. Sometimes they base concoctions on pálinka or even fine wines. We gave it a “fusion” label thanks to its diverse colors: its design lives up to high-quality international standards, the drinks are spiced with a Hungarian touch, but they also gladly make Tiki cocktails, too. The kitchen mostly works from local ingredients in Budapest-style. It is important to note that the cocktails can also be devoured with a meal, so we don’t necessarily have to take a seat at the bar, however, it is really interesting to watch how they mix our drinks. The aforementioned pálinka drink is titled Dear Maria Elizabeth, and we can safely say that so far, this boasts the most harmonic flavors in its category that we have tasted around town. The gigantic fresh raspberries truly bring it to perfection.

Prices: from 2,500 HUF (+10% service fee)
Tips: Dear Maria Elizabeth, My Lady

Deák St. Kitchen

Impostor – the cheeky

The Asian-inspired pair of  – Impostor and  – are loveable because they are laid-back and welcoming; whether we come with our dog or with 15 friends, everyone can have fun at this hipster pub that even has a catchy name. Impostor robs our time, as we don’t realize how quickly the hours pass here, and it plays with drinks that likely make us show off our dance moves in front of the DJ set, even though nobody had asked. They are proud of their whisky selection and their Asian specialties, and we are happy that this pub and cocktail bar that evokes the atmosphere of a Taiwanese den did not just remain a summer project after all. If you don’t fancy sitting on high bar stolls amid an elegant milieu, then the best choice is definitely Impostor. Since the bar opened, Faithful Trick has been highly popular – a mango-gin-vanilla-grapefruit drink in which sweet-and-sour flavors are present together.

On a side note, last year between July and December Impostor conducted a survey about the drinking habits of their guests. They registered every single order, and it turned out that the mojito is still in the lead amongst classic cocktails. Furthermore, Impostor’s emblematic drink, the aforementioned Faithful Trick, earned a proud place on the list, and old-fashioned cocktails are also still pretty popular. Guests generally drink more Japanese whisky than drinks from the usual Scottish/American selection. The most popular short drink is gin, and mescal is quickly catching up.

Prices: from 1,780 HUF
Tips: 
Faithful Trick, Fake Broker

Jamie’s Italian – the Italian

Up at Jamie’s in the , the cocktail bar is mainly popular in the summer; however, it is always a suitable spot to wait for a table in the company of snacks and drinks. Instead of overly sophisticated gourmet cocktails, Italian long drinks, fizzes, refreshments, and so-called dessert cocktails make up the selection here. Jamie’s Mojito is shaken up with rum, Martini, citrus, agave, and prosecco. However, the Lychee & Rosmary Sophia is also a refreshing item. Passionata is a sweet and creamy cocktail, which is worth being devoured instead of a dessert for its sweet flavors. And between two drinks, we can munch on Italian garlic bread from the antipasti selection.

Prices: from 1,440 HUF (+12% service fee)
Tips: Passionata, Jamie’s Mojito

Jamie's Italian Budapest

KIOSK – the cosmopolitan

KIOSK’s bar – found on Március 15. Square – is led by bartenders Attila Boldog and István Berta under the “shade” of a tree. Life is ever-buzzing here, as guests like to dine and drink here in the evenings. In addition to their own favorites, a Caribbean line of concoctions, and classic refreshers based on Hungarian ingredients, they also boast a selection of epicurean drinks. For instance, the Carotta is served with spicy celery chips and fresh mini carrots, and besides its presentation, it is perfected with carrot distillate and St. Germain elderflower liqueur. Ball Fashioned is also an interactive story: the mixture comes served in an ice ball that we have to crack with a metal hammer – basically by just touching it.

Prices: from 1,450 HUF
Tips: Carotta, Sauvignon Spritz, Margarita Reloaded

KIOSK Budapest

Kollázs – the Art Deco

The  is undoubtedly the most beautiful hotel in Budapest, where superstars stay every week, and where everything is about Art Nouveau. Kollázs Brasserie & Bar is no different, as everyone who chooses the excellent cuisine of Árpád Győrffy can dine amid a truly imposing interior here. The restaurant’s main treasure is the bar that also welcomes guests separately from the hotel – it is a uniquely created cocktail island, where they proudly use Hungarian drinks, such as Unicum, Tokaji aszú, or pálinka as a base. In addition to Hungaricums, there are also more daring drinks here, such as The Last Wish: gin infused with cottage cheese, Maraschino-vanilla, and nutmeg.

Prices: from 2,100 HUF
Tips: Ohh, Honey!, The Last Wish

Kollázs Brasserie & Bar

Le Jardin – the charming

s  has been operating with a full house ever since its opening. The long Spanish bistro soon found its audience: local and foreign lovers of tapas and Spanish wines regularly come here. Once an opportunity came, and the management decided to further strengthen the cocktail selection, so much that they opened Le Jardin. This bar is truly mesmerizing and lovely in all its details: there are plenty of plants and light inside, and even the restroom is charming. The designer, Alona Eliasi, did a great job here. Our cocktails were concocted by Matyi Czirják, and he told us a lot about the bar’s own ingredients – syrups, purées, spices – and about the guests’ favorites as well. The drinks come with pinxto bites, but guests can also order form Vicky’s own menu. The Cucumberry cocktail is an excellent choice for its slightly sour flavors, while Picnic at Délegyháza is made outstanding with a bohemian look and strength.

Prices: from 2,000 HUF
Tips: Cucumberry, Prohibition Sour

Le Jardin

NANO – the chemist

NANO’s head bartender, Feri Keresztes, is not a simple man: his sudden hand movements make him look Italian, and he would be the perfect face for an energy-drink commercial, as he is always full of energy. The heavenly cocktail concoctions are based on molecular gastronomy here, and NANO always awaits guests who would like to step out of the world of classics to drink something revolutionary. The glasses are cooled down with dry ice, gin and tonics are served with ice cubes and blackberry or raspberry balls, and our drinks are often topped with edible flowers. The presentation is often like a small show, as the cool dry-ice effect makes drinks “smoke”, test tubes clink together, and fruity caviar balls roll around. Gin-based drinks are always superb, and the Brow Lady, a rum-elderflower liqueur frenzy with grapefruit juice, is also excellent at NANO.

Prices: from 1,490 HUF 
Tips: Exotik GT, Brown Lady

Pharma – the daring

This “drink manufactory” or “laboratory” is a colorful spot amid the locales of chaotic  which are often crammed with partygoers. There is only space for a few people inside at the same time, but Pharma stays on the same steady route towards ever-better quality. The bartenders make such impossible and amazing concoctions that we just couldn’t stop staring at them in awe. The passion and drive to experiment is outstanding at Pharma. Sometimes it comes down to the last pinch or drop of an ingredient, but they always keep going until they create an ideal harmony of flavors. In the past, we tried a mixture with smoky and meaty flavors, while another time they created a drinkable New York cheesecake. We also had the chance to try a concoction made of an incredibly expensive 100% pistachio pasta, enhanced with Parmesan chips, pistachios, and pink peppercorns. Recently, they have started concocting Tiki drinks from all kinds of Caribbean rums. 

Prices: from 1,800 HUF
Tips: ask their opinion, and tell them what you need
Bar Pharma

Spíler Shanghai – the sensual

The atmosphere of Spíler Shanghai’s “secret bar” is truly lustful. There must be a pick-up artist who brings another subject here every evening, as the place is illuminated with red lights, feels exclusive, and takes your mind off the real world for awhile with the help of delicious cocktails. Tamás Kocsis is a true magician; last time he conquered hearts at a famous rum competition with his own drink named Ganbatte, in which rum is mixed with plum-flavored Unicum and red grapefruit. There are three categories of cocktails on the menu, and the more classic concoctions go side-by-side with new-wave creations. Geisha Sake is a shot for four people, while Pornstar Martini is now a signature drink at Shanghai.

Prices: from 1,370 HUF (+12% service fee)
Tips: Ganbatte, Pornstar Martini

Spíler Shanghai

Tuk Tuk Bar – the intimate

TukTuk Bar belongs to the Casati Hotel, but it also stands on its own. We labeled it as intimate because of its tiny size, interior, colors, and masterful service. This is the place where a first date goes without much fuss, the atmosphere is charming, and the boys do their utmost to make our night truly pleasant here – while secretly also educating us. Gergő Pólyik, Viktor Polgár, and Dávid Jenei are always glad to help anyone who finds it difficult to choose from the drink list. This bar is one of the wittiest that we have ever seen, as the cocktails also come with short stories, and these are the gags that make TukTuk truly loveable: if we order The Jolly Melon, we get a Joker card drawn especially for this drink, while Plumtastic comes in a tea cup, and another concoction is topped with nostalgic Pez candy. If we get hungry, we can also order meat and ham plates here. In TukTuk Martini, gin and amaretto shake up the coconut flavor. Of course, here we can also decide to just trustthe talented bartenders to concoct something special for us instead of choosing from the drink list.

Prices: from 1,400 HUF
Tips: The Jolly Melon, Plumtastic, Tuk Tuk Martini

TukTuk Bar

Urban Tiger – the tropical (ceased)

Urban Tiger is one of the big favorites of this roundup, where we tried such exotic cocktails that made us feel as if we were at a top-class bar on a beach in Thailand. The atmosphere of this Asian fusion bar and restaurant is truly unique: the bar is in the limelight here, and this is where the magic happens, thanks to Márk Pap and the staff who put together a strong drink list. The cocktails are characteristic and memorable, and their presentation is also outstanding. We like it when the cocktails match the meals, and this works perfectly here. Ronin 2.0 is based on tequila and dry vermouth, and is spiced with the quartet of tonka beans, passion fruit, chili, and egg whites – it is wonderful. And so is Miss Khalifa, the blend of mescal, sherry, coconut, kaffir lime, and yuzu. We could basically talk about all 14 drinks here, because they truly are excellent.

Prices: from 2,150 HUF
Tips: Miss Khalifa, Monkey Cock, Ronin 2.0

Urban Tiger (ceased)
  • 1053 Budapest, Kecskeméti utca 3.

WarmUp – the ingenious

In 2014, when we made our first cocktail roundup, WarmUp was a newcomer in the city’s cocktail scene; however, since then it has become one of the most beloved cocktail bars in Budapest. If you visit them once, they will definitely remember you, and possibly even what you drank last time. Their concept stays unchanged, as they still tailor cocktails to our individual taste. They do not provide names for the drinks, as they all have different identities. There is no such thing as “impossible” for Dávid Szabó and his team; it already happened in the past that we asked for a cocktail flavored like mákos guba (a Hungarian poppy-seed dessert), while others asked for drinks that rhymed with a particular wold. If you’re also interested in the history of various gins, vodkas, rums, and other types of alcohol, they are happy to share their knowledge, even at 2am. Patience and a positive mindset are great qualities that these boys have, they can even make an awful Monday better with a peanut whipped cream-grapefruit shot. They are truly talented with gins, handle ginger like virtuosos, and it is also possible that we get our Caribbean rum cocktail in a golden pineapple. Their head bartender is Dániel Ujj. 

Prices: from 1,800 HUF 
Tips: whatever you fancy, something that suits your mood, or something they surprise you with

WarmUp Rustic – the Mediterranean (ceased)

The only drawback at WarmUp is that it is narrow and relatively small, so they are often criticized that sometimes it’s hard to get inside on busy weekends. Hence, after thorough planning, renovations, and brainstorming, they decided to expand the business with another unit. This is how Warmup Rustic came into being with a totally different atmosphere. The former Spanish-styled place of Kertész Street kept its rustic atmosphere; wooden surfaces, barrels, and warm colors dominate here, and candlelight illuminates the place more often than industrial lamps. There are plenty of seats here, and there is even a small separated lounge on the gallery. The bar is led by Robi Vitáris and Péter Gózon, and in addition to the mouthwatering cocktails, we can also taste tapas here, made with olives, hams, sausages, and cheeses. There is no set drink list here either, as they tailor the cocktails to our taste. This is how we tried a basil-vanilla concoction, and a coconut-cream colada with freeze-dried raspberry flakes on top before, and our strongest drink was a gin-based cocktail spiced with passion fruit purée, chili, and pink peppercorn.

Prices: from 1,800 HUF
Tips: similarly to WarmUp, just sit back and wait for your personalized delicious drink

+1: BpBARBq – the easygoing

We wanted to include BpBARBq in this list as a “plus one”, because they created a unique and clever concept here. Zsolt Serényi’s smoked meats and sandwiches not only come with beer, but also with rosemary Gin Fizz, or a slightly spicy Bloody Mary served with celery. So what can we do? “Bar” is deliberately included in the name: Roland Urbán mixes drinks that go well with the meats here. However, their concept is not at all traditional: the cocktails are served in a paper or plastic cup, to be faithful to the original concept. It is not part of the classic bar culture, but works very well.

Prices: from 1,590 HUF
Tips: BpBARBq Sour, Tanqueray Spritz

BpBARbq
  • 1072 Budapest, Akácfa utca 24.