The one thing we heard over and over again about Prague is that it’s THE place for cheap beer. Pilsner is king in Prague. Walk into most small bars or restaurants and grab one for 1-2 euros. We took advantage of the cheap beer, and of the vibrant cocktail scene. The overarching theme of the cocktails we found is creativity, drawn from the creativity and vibrance of the city. Unique, seemingly contrasting ingredients are paired flawlessly together and poured into unexpected and unique glassware. A night out in Prague stimulates the palate, and the imagination.
Here’s where we drank in Prague
Hemingway topped our list thanks to its creativity in presentation and high quality drinks. The glassware was particularly impressive. The Light Side was served in an R2D2 mug, complimented by the Dark Side, served in a Darth Vader mug. Hemingway does a great job of getting you involved in your cocktail. The Hemingway’s Lottery is served with a scratch off ticket and gives you the opportunity to win a prize, if you’re lucky. The Fairy Ale is served in a vessel like an absinthe fountain, allowing you to dispense it yourself, at your own pace. The longer the drink sits in the fountain, the more mellow the absinthe flavor becomes, allowing you to customize the drink to your own tastes. While they do change up the drink menu, the spirit list remains extensive, particularly the absinthe list. I’m unfamiliar with absinthe. Since it isn’t super popular or widely available in Kansas, the absinthe I’ve tried in the past is harsh, and heavy on the anise flavor. I tried a pour of Czech absinthe that Hemingway helps distill and found it incredibly dynamic. The anise flavor was there, but was balanced by other spices.
Our server was incredibly knowledgeable and gave us a crash absinthe course in the time it took for the water to dispense from the absinthe fountain into my glass. If you’re new to absinthe like I was, don’t be afraid to ask questions. The staff is very friendly and wants you to have a good experience. If you plan to visit Hemingway on a weekend night, make sure to make a reservation. There is no standing room in Hemingway, so when all the seats are full they stop letting people in. They take reservations from 7:00-9:00 p.m., but have open seating the rest of the night. The cocktails are so involved you really need a seat to get the full experience of the bar. I would not have been able to enjoy my Fairy Ale while holding the dispenser and the glass. The bar itself is dark and classic, so sit back and enjoy the atmosphere.
Cash Only is Hemingway’s laid back sister bar. The atmosphere is more modern and more casual than Hemingway’s, but the cocktails are just as phenomenal. The menu features a list of interesting classics like the Dry Daiquiri, a classic Daiquiri with a splash of Campari and passion fruit, and a list of rotating seasonal drinks and shots. The Bergamot London Buck featured bergamot gin and ginger. It tasted like a comforting, boozy, cup of tea without tasting simply like iced tea. The bartender surprised me with a “mezcal, spicy, and nutty drink” featuring mezcal and amaretto, which was a surprising combination to me. Amaretto is usually far too sweet for my taste, but the mezcal covered the sweetness well, creating a smoky, spicy drink with a nutty aftertaste. Cash Only also has hotdogs, which somehow pair phenomenally with the cocktails. Hit the ATM before you go to Cash Only, because as the name suggests, it’s cash only.
For a drink and dinner, check out Bonvivants, a tapas restaurant serving up well made, classic cocktails. While they have a cocktail menu, their philosophy is to encourage you to describe the flavors you like and allow them to customize a drink for you. Communicating isn’t a problem at Bonvivant. While we were there, I heard our server talking to tables in Czech, English, French, and German. He flawlessly transitioned between languages, describing the nuances of cocktails and spirits to every customer in the bar. This was the first cocktail bar we went to after drinking our way through Munich during Oktoberfest, so we stuck to classic cocktails. The Kingston negroni, negroni, and gimlet were executed perfectly. We did try one house special, featuring celery, sweet vermouth, and Becherovka, a sweet, herbal, Czech liquor. It was earthy and herby, but sweet at the same time. It’s a small, cozy space, designed like a 1920s New York bar. We went on a rainy day, creating a dreamy atmosphere to settle in with a cocktail and one or two of their daily tapas.
Beer in Prague
If you’re looking for a traditional beer experience in Prague, we suggest just popping in to any cafe or bar and order a Pilsner Urquell. Easy to drink and refreshing, this is the beer of Prague. We visited the Czech Beer Museum looking for beer history, but the self-guided tour was unimpressive and we liked Pilsner Urquell more than any of the tastings at the end of the tour.
We sought out some more current, craft microbreweries during our time in Prague, as well. Prague Beer Museum (not to be confused with the Czech Beer Museum) is a tap house in Prague that features over 30 Czech beers on tap. Although it’s touristy, it gives you a chance to try some great Czech beers that aren’t Pilsners, like IPAs and fruity lagers. Although a majority of the beers were solid, there was one that stood out for negative reasons: Rohozec Višen—Cherry. It may have been the worst beer any of us have ever tasted, and because of its medicinal, cough syrupy taste, we kindly nicknamed it Robitussin Red.
What’s your favorite place in Prague? Let us know in the comments or contact us directly!