The Hungarian capital has been celebrated as a trendy party town for some years now. The fact that guests of this extraordinary and historical Danube metropolis not only experience fast drinks and vibrating beats but can also enjoy cocktails of an international standard is mainly thanks to a dedicated bar keeper: Zoltán Nagy, founder of Boutiq’ Bar. He opened the bar 12 years ago, after having spent five years perfecting his skills and creativity in hip London watering holes. In doing so, he triggered a boom in Budapest – albeit with some delays.
Budapest, shortly after the coronavirus lockdown: a wonderful time for bar lovers – peaceful, no hectic, lots of space in the bars, sufficient time for tasting and enjoying the creations. Perfect for passionate barflies, tough for barkeepers and service staff, who help to forget the challenging time with great hospitality.
For an aperitif I make a pilgrimage to the DSK Bar in the Hotel Ritz-Carlton. The extremely obliging barman Daniel stirs, and waiter Anna serves, refreshing dry martinis. In the outdoor seating area, a robust New World Petit Corona by A.J. Fernández goes well with them. A welcome start to the odyssey.
Fortified, I continue to the Good Spirit, a bar with a whisky specialty store attached. A generously sized locale with a long counter, decorated in pleasant copper tones and with a tranquil outdoor seating area. Due to the highproof symbiosis with the whisky shop, the Good Spirit offers a fine selection of exciting flights. But the cocktails are also characterized by nuanced quality throughout. When one of country’s current best barkeepers, Csiszer Levente, creates an original twist on a Boulevardier before your eyes (Ardbeg, Elijah Craig, Chinato, Royal Oporto, Campari), that is exciting.
From the ground-level Good Spirit up to the roof-top bar: the exclusive High Note SkyBar not only impresses with its magnificent view over Budapest at night but also for its Negronis that are stirred with homemade gin.
From the sky to the basement. The speakeasy Hotsy Totsy – a cozy, classic, relaxed bar setting – is characterized by its fabulous, constantly changing cocktail menu. The accomplished barkeeper Orsi, still one of the few women in the local scene, mixes a superb Bulleit (more than just the bourbon, of course).
But the undisputed star of the bar scene is the aforementioned Boutiq’ Bar: a pleasant and an unostentatious atmosphere, perfect hosts and the highest level of signature drinks and cocktails. Even the entry with a twist on a Bobby Burns from Istvan is tremendous fun. Very refreshing is also the drink La Bonita by the Hungarian Bacardi Legacy winner Máté Steier. The nights in the Boutiq’ Bar fly by relatively quickly. It is not surprising that the bar was Jennifer Lawrence’s favorite watering hole during the filming of Red Sparrow: “Egészségére!”