Make your way down to the back streets of Old Town to find a bar frozen in time, a slice of the good life. The Hemingway is a bar totally dedicated to the late, great Ernest Hemingway. The American author and journalist was a famous bar lover. Aside from his written work, the Illinois native helped a great number of cocktails reach fame and popularity around the world; ever heard of a Hemingway Daiquiri? Unsurprisingly, he’s the guy behind it! During his later years, Hemingway divided his time between Cuba and the US, spending half the year indulging in the island’s fine rum and cigars, writing novels, and generally relaxing and taking it easy.
The Hemingway Bar is located on a narrow back street; it’s an unimposing, modest building that’s quite easy to miss if you don’t keep your eyes peeled. The low door opens straight into the well-stocked, cosy bar area. The front part of the bar is equipped with tables and chairs for small groups as well as stools close to the bar to soak up the Hemingway-esque atmosphere. When I arrived, this front area was full with patrons. The sudden entrance from the small cobbled back street into the cosy loud bar was a little intimidating, so I scurried to the relaxed, quieter seating provided towards the back of the bar.
Chesterfield sofas and black & white images of Hemingway and friends during the happier years of the troubled writer’s life, decorate the walls of the bar. Dusty, expensive, and exotic bottles from far away countries are also on display in the darkened seating area. I was quickly greeted by a friendly English-speaking waiter who provided me with a drinks menu.
The bilingual drinks menu offered a wide selection of drinks, including many cocktails with original recipes. I decided to try out the bar’s signature drink: the Hemingway Daiquiri (115 CZK) – an icy, fruity drink that boasted fresh lime, pink grapefruit juice, a dash of syrup, maraschino, and 13-year-old-rum as its ingredients. The well-presented drink arrived quickly. A tasty, flavorful drink with plenty of the 13-year-old rum complementing the lime and grapefruit tastes. Not as icy as I expected, but tasty nonetheless.
While sipping my Hemingway Daiquiri and perusing the menu, I realized that there were no non-alcoholic cocktails on offer. Was Hemingway that focused on the alcohol that he neglected to cater for the designated drivers & teetotalers? I decided to put my friendly and attentive waiter to the test. ‘Do you have any virgin cocktails?’ I asked, expecting a flustered response. Totally un-phased by my request, the waiter informed me that virgin cocktails aren’t listed in the drinks menu, but it wouldn’t be a problem to create something according to my taste and desire! Great! 105 CZK bought me a long refreshing strawberry and mint virgin cocktail, loaded with ice,with complements from the mixologist. Pretty pricey for a posh fruit juice, but I have to admit the drink was delicious.
Feeling suitably smug after my sobering fruit juice experience, I opted for another Hemingway-inspired drink to really get into the spirit of things. The Ernest Cadillac (115 CZK) was a creamy, milky alcoholic dream with chocolate shavings and absinth. Upon ordering, my waiter warned me that this drink was in direct contrast with my previous tart choice. I thanked him for the words of advice and stuck with my decision. The Cadillac was definitely sweet, but nice enough. It’s clear that the mixers at this bar put in the work when it comes to cocktail creation.
The Hemingway bar also offers a number of snacks for those wanting to soak up the alcohol: nachos with guacamole (150g, 95 CZK), Cranberry pate (125g, 85 CZK), mozzarella with cherry tomatoes (250g, 95 CZK) or a selection of olives, crisps, and nuts are provided for peckish patrons.
The Hemingway Bar was full of people when I arrived. I was lucky to find a small table at the back, and during my time in the bar there seemed to be a never ending flow of people coming in, looking for a seat, and leaving disappointed. The small front bar area was maybe a little too claustrophobic for me, although I’m quite tall so perhaps others wouldn’t share my opinion. The bar seemed to have far more Czechs than expats, which I found surprising.
I shared the back room seating area with two groups of 30-something professionals, smoking big cigars and knocking back an endless supply of fine rums. Unfortunately, the ventilation in the room wasn’t great so I felt pretty smoked out at some points, heavy cigar smoke in such a small environment added to my growing claustrophobic feeling. Having said that, Hemingway Bar is a great little place – the owners have managed to create a really relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere which would be good for groups or even solo drinking. The staff was extremely friendly, attentive, and knowledgeable. There was a lack of information about the bar’s namesake in the menu, but a quick Google session after my visit gave me an insight into the interesting writer’s life and death.
- Smoking Policy: Smoking, with a wide selection of cigars available.
- Location: Karolíny Světlé 26, Prague 1 – Old Town
- The Crowd: Mostly Czech
- Atmosphere: Relaxed & vibrant
- Attire: Casual
- Price Range: Mid-range
- Entrance Fees: None
- Size: Small
- Music Policy: Strange lounge music
- Service: Quick & friendly
- Restroom Check: very clean
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