Bar Review: Blue Light

Legendary Malá Strana late night spot
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Prague’s legendary Blue Light can be found tucked away on one of Malá Strana’s many winding back streets. Opened by film director František Ludačka back in 1995, Blue Light has, over time, become a very popular hangout for Prague’s drinkers and revelers from all walks of life. Hang around in the cavernously-cosy bar and you’re likely to see a few of Prague’s professional socialites, musicians, artists, photographers, movie directors and even politicians enjoying the fruits of the well-stocked, late night cocktail bar.

Blue Light is regularly frequented by both Czech and international film crews as the all-important ‘wrap party’ location, which makes Blue Light an interesting people-watching location for those wanting to stargaze; the likes of Daniel Craig and Bruce Willis are listed as two of the venue’s many celebrity patrons. Czech photographer Alžběta Jungrová used the bar as the source for her 2011 exhibition on display in Holešovice’s DOX gallery. The Blue Light Tonight exhibition gave an accurate depiction of the bar’s almost magical atmosphere and its sometimes humorous effect on the many adoring regulars. 24 images of some of the bar’s well known patrons relaxing in the obviously familiar setting made for an interesting and insightful exhibition.

Blue Light’s unassuming entrance from the street to opens into a small, dimly-lit seating area which then leads to the venue’s main lounge and bar area. Blue Light is generally busy; in my opinion, it has a ‘real bar’ feeling. During my visits it felt that the bar had a fairly equal balance of regulars (international) and tourists. There were those only in the city for a few nights, visiting the bar on the recommendation of their hotel receptionist, enjoying the vibrant atmosphere, as well as regular drinkers who were on first-name terms with the fast moving bar staff.  

The bar’s dark walls are decorated with prints and album covers of many jazz greats. Candle-like orange lights cast shadows over prints of smiling, fresh-faced performers from bygone times. Around the prints, the walls are adorned with countless names and messages which have been scratched into the paint by the many previous visitors (some of them famous!).

Blue Light’s main bar area is often smoky and crowded. Expect to shimmy through the bustling crowd. A healthy mix of languages fills the air, along with a heavy layer of cigarette smoke. The main bar area isn’t blessed in the air conditioning department; the air felt smoky and slightly stifling. But then, this added to my ‘real bar’ feelings about Blue Light. The low lighting, smoke-filled atmosphere, and graffiti-covered walls all added to the bar’s unquestionable character and charm.

The busy, bustling atmosphere comes at cost, though. Regulars, or perhaps early birds who had set up base at the bar, made it quite difficult for latecomers. I found it tough catching the eye of one of the three bar tenders working, which made ordering a slightly frustrating process. To be fair, the wait wasn’t long and the once served the English-speaking staff were quick to present my drink and receipt.

Blue Light has an extensive drinks menu offering a wide range of cocktails, spirits, and wines at tourist prices. Their beer selection is rather limited and pricey, so it might not be an ideal venue for pivo-loving patrons. On the other hand, if you’re cruising for a cocktail, then you’ll have plenty of options to keep your taste buds entertained until the bar’s 03:00 close.

Alcoholic indulgence doesn’t come cheap at Blue Light. For the beer drinkers: 0,30l Pilsner Urquell, or Kozel tmavý (dark beer) priced at 35 CZK. Bottled Corona (80 CZK) and Desperado (85 CZK). A range of bubbles, from Bohemia Sekt (310 CZK) to Taittinger Champagne (starting from 1950 CZK) caters for the pallets and pockets of both the celebrity and mere mortal. Blue Light’s cocktail menu is varied and full of drinks with exotic names and ingredients, utilizing the well stocked bar. The Caipirisma (Beeteater gin, lime juice, fresh limes & brown sugar) was at the cheaper end of the cocktail options (115 CZK) for the zesty, slightly tart drink. Cocktails were being ordered left, right, and centre, which often caused delays as bar staff tended to their customers’ outlandish beverage requests.

Blue Light has a life and character of its own. It is the port of call for many fascinating people who have chosen Prague as their base, and, of course, for those temporarily in the city and looking for a slice of Prague nightlife. The bar is the ‘go to’ place, being one of the few late night venues on that side of river. A fact that attracts a colourful mixture of people. High bar prices mean that clientele of a certain age or wage bracket stay and spend, while others venture into the night in search of cheaper prices or wider range of beer. Most expats in the city have visited or at least know about Blue Light, and those that don’t should take some time out and acquaint themselves with the city’s legendary late night spot.

Smoking Policy: often smoky
Location: Josefská 42, Praha 1 – Malá Strana
The Crowd: Regulars & tourists mix comfortably
Atmosphere: Generally friendly
Attire: casual
Price Range: Tourist prices
Entrance Fees: None
Size: Small
Music Policy: Mixed sounds. Expect anything from classic funk to country & western.
Service: Efficient & English speaking
Restroom Check: Clean  

Bar Review: Blue Light


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