There is never a time when a cocktail is not a good idea, especially during the holidays, when nobody can tell just how much rum there is in your glass if it all smells like cinnamon. This is the time of year for wintry aromas and flavors such as plum, apple, cranberry and ginger, all infused with more than a little alcohol. At cocktail bars around Budapest, masterful mixers intoxicate with their seasonal concoctions, created with passion and professionalism. This sparkling selection spans elegant hotel hangouts and bijou booze bars, where invention and experimentation surprise and delight.
Boutiq’Bar is a big favorite of ours and has been ranked among the top 50 bars around the world by the London-based Drink International. Cocktails here are heavenly, and during winter, special aromas tempt taste buds, warming both body and soul. Holiday Mule is the perfect blend of Beluga vodka, lime, rosemary, cranberry, ginger beer and angostura bitters, while Bohemian Sweezle features Czech herbal bitter Becherovka, lime, cinnamon and cranberry. The current signature drink is Happy End, based on Hungarian Unicum Plum, enhanced with lime, cinnamon and pineapple.
- 1061 Budapest, Paulay Ede utca 5.
An elegant hotel calls for an elegant lounge bar. Such is Buddha-Bar, the Budapest branch of this world-famous hotel chain, where they focus on a wide assortment of drinks from Asia, alongside a selection of favorites from all around the world. Winter cocktails include Swan Lake, in which Tanqueray No.10 meets blackcurrant, absinthe and raspberry, Lazy Lover, which allows Gosling’s rum to mingle with Cointreau, creating a succulent concoction topped with a cardamom-pineapple finish, and Money Talks, a super fruity daiquiri twist made with 23-year-old Zacapa rum.
- 1052 Budapest, Váci utca 34.
Deák St. Kitchen
The premier restaurant of Budapest’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel is a sophisticated yet enticing blend of warm belle-époque elegance and modern sleek chic. Dining here is a truly special experience, as the atmosphere is somewhat akin to a cozy living room, the service super attentive and the cuisine heavenly. With the arrival of winter, they have also enhanced their cocktail menu with festive flavors. Our Little Secret is a moreish mix of apple cider, so easy to sink… Ferrero’s Favorite is the perfect post-meal dessert for those with a sweet tooth, as the mixture of Nutella, Russian Standard vodka, espresso and bitters is a beautiful blend. We also recommend The Nutcracker, a luscious melange of Frangelico, chocolate bitter, Pinot Noir red wine and a secret-recipe winter syrup.
- 1051 Budapest, Erzsébet tér 9-10.
KIOSK is slightly removed from Budapest’s busy party district but with a downtown location on Március 15. Square. Life at KIOSK is ever-buzzing, as guests like to drink and dine after dark around its towering indoor tree. In addition to endless divine drinks and classic refreshers, KIOSK also serves epicurean tipples. For that authentic taste of winter, you can sample their grog, KIOSK Hot Spot, while the tasty if slightly sour blend of cherry and cognac in Mon Cherry should make the night that bit merrier. For those a little more daring, we recommend Chilicious, a smokey and spicy drink that comes served with a piece of jalapeno pepper coated in dark chocolate. Hot stuff!
- 1056 Budapest, Március 15. tér 4.
We Love WarmUp! The deal here is easy; you walk in, tell the bartenders which flavors you crave, and the masterful mixologists concoct something to exceed your expectations. As its name suggests, this bar is more a warm-up spot before a big night out, but be cautious as you might end up falling in love with the flavors and not move all evening. During the colder months, they work with classic aromas such as cinnamon, plum and cranberry, while warm spicy cocktails served in a cup are also immensely popular. Cocktails with ginger beer or topped with caramelized marshmallows are also super tasty.
- 1072 Budapest, Nagy Diófa utca 26.
This self-styled drink laboratory is a colorful spot amid the locales along chaotic Kazinczy Street, thronging with partygoers. Only a few can fit inside here at any one time, but Pharma always steers a steady course towards quality intoxication. Savvy bartenders come up with imaginative concoctions, some dependent on the slightest ingredient, never stopping until they have created an ideal harmony of flavors. During winter, they cooke up stellar cocktails such as Around The Clock, in which Pedro Ximénez sherry is mixed with apricot brandy, Mozart dark chocolate, peach jam, egg and a soupçon of chocolate Oreo. Downtown Manhattan features Jameson Black Barrel whiskey, Punt e Mes, pear liqueur, bitters and chocolate foam, while Campfire evokes sweet memories with spicy flavors, butter, marshmallow and warm ginger beer enhanced with Absolut Elyx vodka, Linie Aquavit and chili syrup.
- 1075 Budapest, Kazinczy utca 35.