Cocktails in Prague have come a long way since the dark days when ordering a martini would get you a glass of lukewarm Cinzano. Upscale cocktail bars – many associated with luxury hotels – have been in the city center for some time, but today open-minded café and bar owners from Letná to Žižkov recognize that a list of unique craft cocktails, or even competent classics, is a great way to stand out. Now more than ever, distinguished potables can be found in the city’s unexpected corners. Here are some of the newest and most unique.
The newest bar on the list, Public Interest is a hip and hush-hush establishment tucked into a side street not far from Old Town Square. Sleek, discrete and chic, the bar does without the faux-luxury of other cocktail bars in the center and is evidently not intended for stag groups or noisy interlopers. That is a good thing. The cocktail menu features some truly impressive drinks, like the Lavender Gimlet, a fresh and citrusy concoction with a hint of lavender from a sprig delicately floating on top. A creative seasonal tipple is the Autumn Julep, with Famous Grouse, apple and lime juice, and mint. The over-priced beer, along with a polite and rather large bouncer at the door keeps out the riff raff, and the refined industrial elegance of unpainted walls and classic furniture makes for a unique evening ambience. U Milosrdných 1, Prague 1
The bohemian cousin of central Prague’s newest generation of cocktail bars, Malkovich Bar is a Žižkov café and bar with the feel of a comfortable, moodily lit living room salon, complete with vintage bird wallpaper. There’s no sign outside, so you might walk past it once or twice, which is probably just fine for the clientele. Very friendly service, great music from the record player, and an unpretentious, classy atmosphere; Malkovich is an instant favorite. One of the stand-out drinks on the menu is the Little Dragon, a gin-based cocktail with cucumber and wasabi, served in a martini glass. It’s refreshing and just a little sweet, with a surprising kick from the wasabi. Malkovich Bar also has a seriously curated collection of single malts. Bořivojova 100, Prague 3
Hackers aren’t exactly known for being the most lighthearted and fun-loving folks on the planet, but you wouldn’t know that from a visit to AnonymouS Bar. Nestled in a non-descript courtyard off a side street in the center, this is a cocktail bar with a list of creative drinks and a rather curious theme based on the international hacktivist group. There’s a little bit of everything here, and the bartenders aren’t afraid to put on a show. If you’re looking for attention, order V’s Blood, which is dripped into your glass through an IV bag. But there’s more here than visual extravagance. Tell your waiter what spirit and flavors you like, and he’ll fill your prescription. Michalská 12, Prague 1
From the husband and wife team who previously owned Hapu, the legendary Žižkov cocktail bar, Martin’s Bistro has the cocktails that made their old bar beloved, along with a weekly menu of very tasty food. This type of place is new for Prague: a comfy, low-key bistro with excellent food and cocktails served by staff that actually seem to want you there. Definitely try the Coriander, an herb-infused twist on the martini, and the GGC, with gin, ginger beer, and cucumber. It’s a refreshing long drink with a nice ginger bite, and it puts the usual gin and tonic to shame. Velehradská 4, Prague 3
A Letná favorite with a style harking back to the days of rum barons and speakeasies – only with better booze – SideDoor is a bar where you’re just as likely to encounter cocktail lovers as beer-drinking baseball fans. The service is laid-back, the conversation is mostly in English, and they have a fairly straightforward list of classic cocktails, from the Martini to the Old Fashioned. One curveball that’s worth sampling is the SideDoor Hard Iced Tea. It’s their signature drink, with bourbon and home-made iced tea served in a mason jar. It wouldn’t feel out of place on an Alabama back porch. Korunovační 4, Prague 7
This has to be one of the smallest cafés in Prague, so good luck finding a seat. Luckily there are benches on the sidewalk, with warm blankets provided. Although it’s technically a café, Prádelna also has a pretty unique list of hot and cold cocktails. Of the former, the Hot Rum Cow will put some pep in your step on cold winter days, with a shot of Captain Morgan, sugar, Angostura bitters, nutmeg and warm milk. The Matcha Gin Shot is another curious concoction, with Matcha powdered green tea, gin and tonic. The tea adds a vegetal flavor that brings some lower notes into the classic combination of gin and tonic, and also adds a vibrant green color. Slavíkova 21, Prague 2
Name your cocktail or cocktail bar of choice in Prague.