We spent the weekend in Prague, and apart from checking out absinthe shops or absinthe bars, we went to three of the most renowned cocktail bars in the heart of Prague.
One thing occurred to us after noticing the same thing in Brno a few days earlier: This country is full of bars and pubs! Our personal guide and Czech absinthe distiller Martin Zufanek agreed: The bar scene is very wide spread in the Czech Republic, not just in Prague, the Czech Mekka for tourists. I don’t suggest all Czech people drink too much or spend their whole life in bars – however it seems to be much more of a cultural thing as in other parts of Europe. Visiting a restaurant or bar to meet up with someone over a meal is something very common over there, I think it’s a very social attitude. Maybe for us Germans it seems odd because most of the bars or pubs in Germany are not as stylish, or at least high standard bars are a privilege for the larger cities of Germany.
However, we embraced this lifestyle for a week and went to see three excellent cocktail bars in one night!
Hemingway Bar Prague
This bar doesn’t look particular special or appealing to the untrained eye – the entrance door is made of wood that is past its best days, the entrance is low and you want to duck your head when walking in. The window shutters are closed. Once the door opens, another world unveils. We’re politely greeted right by the first member of staff right by the door who obviously knows our tour guide Martin very well. We pass another couple of staff members who are just as polite as the guy at the entrance and make our way to our table. The Hemingway bar offers a nice, spacious room on the ground floor and another room with a fully equipped bar upstairs.
It’s a bit dark at Hemingway, the interior is luxurious and the bartenders pleasant. We receive a cocktail menu, and a “mind-your-manners-menu”!
Cocktails along with behavioral lessons
We study the house rules of how a guest is expected to behave, slightly shocked. On this list you find things such as “No loud laughter” and “don’t talk to other guests unless you know them”. “Please don’t walk around the bar topless”. And if you think about it, can you really blame the owners of this bar to issue these rules? At first it may come across a little stiff, yes, but consider this: There’s about 5.5 million tourists in Prague in just a single year. There’s never an off-season, it’s always high season in Prague, and there are numerous stag and hen do’s all year around, there’s people creating accidents with beer bikes, and so on. Prague’s tourists are mostly messy and sometimes inconsiderate. I suppose as someone owning a bar you can’t expect the appropriate behavior by just anyone, or appealing on common sense.
So we quickly forgive and forget about these house rules and start inspecting their short cocktail menu – no problem, as you can basically order any cocktail you want and they’ll make it especially for you. For starters we check out their OMG-Negroni (a Negroni with OMG-Gin), a classic absinthe cocktail and two Star Wars-themed cocktails (called the Dark Side and the Light Side, both delicious). After a few cocktails off the menu we ordered some individual cocktails and where amazed on how great they mixed them.
Every cocktail is served in a creative way – for example, the OMG Negroni was delivered on a little stool that came to light when you placed the glass on top of it. The Star Wars-themed cocktails came in Darth-Vader and R2D2 mugs, a Mezcal Cocktail was served along with a bacon rasher. And each time, the bartenders took plenty of time to explain each cocktail to us before serving it.
We believe every cocktail fan should definitely visit this place!
Hemingway Bar Prague
Karolíny Světlé 26
Cash Only Bar Prag
Next Stop: Cash Only Bar. This is basically a slightly smaller and more modern branch of the owners of the Hemingway bar. With a very simple and slim concept, this bar offers the same high quality drinks as the previous bar does. Similar cocktails and just as talented bartenders populate this tube-shaped bar. In a lively alley in the centre of Prague, you can enjoy cocktails along with hot dogs and popcorn. There’s no menu on how to behave here.
You pay in cash (surprise!) and get salty popcorn – perfect.
The place is shaped like a tube and offers tall bistro tables and bar stools to sit on – that’s why the bar has more of a Pitstop character during a pub crawl in Prague. Not true. In the basement on your way to the restrooms is another fairly large room with comfy chairs and tables to sit and stay for a while. Quite nice actually that this bar offers a choice for every guest: Grab a quick cocktail, some hot dogs, and leave, or stay for a while.
Cash Only Bar Prag
110 00 Praha 1-Staré Město
L’Fleur Cocktail Bar Prague
Our last stop is the L’Fleur bar. It is the biggest place we’ve visited today so far.
This bar’s interior is very luxurious and classy. Its style reminds me of somewhat Belle Epoque in France, combined with something Czech. Dark wood skillfully treated offers lovely chairs and tables, crystal chandeliers dangle from the ceiling. Again, the cocktail menu is fairly slim but stacked with exquisite creations, yet any drink is possible. The bartenders and mixologists regularly win prizes, Zufanek says. And oh my, the cocktails taste like winners, too!
Another thing we notice at this bar is again, the fuss that is made about the presentation of each cocktail. Explanations about ingredients and why, and a very interesting choice of serving. L’Fleur bar “wowed” us a few times that night. One cocktail came in a little treasure chest, another in a globe holder. We’re very excited, entertained and are almost unable to decide which cocktail spectacle we would like to enjoy next!