Many guests joining us on our Prague food tours ask us about our favorite bars in Prague. "Where should we go to have a drink in Prague later in the evening?" Yes, we love a drink at a bar, too. Just sit down, like an adult, and enjoy a drink or two in good company and engage in some good conversation. Is there a better place to contemplate on the day past than over a great drink? Yeah, we did not think so, either.
What follows is a shortlist of what we think are…
The Best Bars in Prague
But first, a few general observations that apply to nearly all the good bars in Prague:
- Having travelled around a bit, we think Prague bars are fantastic, and the best bars in Prague are easily comparable to the best bars anywhere. If you are in town, make sure you visit some of the bars listed here. It makes a lot of sense.
- Reservation is a good idea. Bar-hopping? You may not get a seat in the best bars in town. Places like Hemingway Bar or Tretter's can get really crowded. That said, Hemingway Bar doesn't accept reservations past 9pm so you better get in early. Otherwise, walk-ins are fine in some of the bars listed.
- We think cocktail bars in Prague offer a fantastic value. With even the best drinks rarely exceeding CZK 200 (about EUR 8) per drink, we think Prague cocktail bars offer great value for the quality you get in exchange.
- If you hate smoking, choose your Prague bar wisely. With the exception of Cash Only Bar, Innuendo and Hemingway Bar, all the bars listed are smoking bars, with some bars actually offering Cuban cigars to be smoked on the spot. (Please note that smoking is likely to be banned in the Czech Republic in 2016.)
- Finally, there seems to be a nice community of high-end cocktail bartenders who know and like each other. If you are in any of the bars below, just ask the bartender and he or she will give you tips where to go next.
Must-visit Bars in Prague
Hemingway Bar, a medium-sized two-story bar, has been one of our favorite bars in Prague for years. As the name suggests, the bar has a slight focus on rums but their skilled bartenders create absolutely fantastic cocktails out of just about anything. The bar uses good quality ingredients, with many bitters made in house, and the bartenders make sure you understand what goes into every drink and why. They use dried egg whites for their sours. Also, they are teaming up with Becherovka, a traditional Czech herbal liqueur, to create some nice signature drinks. Try the Becher Butter Sour to see what we’re talking about.
Also, Hemingway Bar is THE place for Absinthe in Prague: the bartenders will explain all the possible varieties and the differences between them and tell you how you should drink it. Hemingway Bar is clearly very popular so get in early: the last time we were leaving at about 11pm, about a dozen people waited to get in on the street outside. No wonder. The best seats? Top floor at the bar: just talk to the bartender, explain what alcohol and flavors you’re looking for, and enjoy the sight and the drink. The atmosphere is lively but a bit subdued: they like their rules at Hemingway Bar (there’s a list of them at each table), which smooths out all excessive behavior. Clearly one of the best bars in Old Town.
Parlour is a tiny place in Krakovska street, a truly uninspired piece of the city near the top of the Wenceslas Square. We would not blame you if you had a hard time finding it: out of all the Prague bars listed, this one truly fits the bill as a “hidden gem". It is also fairly small: the bar sits about twenty maximum. Sitting here is like sitting in your old-school friend's living room, if he or she also happened to have a big bar in it. Given these qualities, Parlour wins the prize as the place to visit if quiet contemplation is what you like with your drink. The soundtrack helps: usually jazz classics (think Kind of Blue by Miles Davis). Simply said, if your want to paaaarty, look elsewhere. (They also don’t accept reservations for larger groups.)
But the drinks are fantastic. The owner-bartenders subscribe to the Japanese school of mixology and avoid all disturbances: no cherries, no lemons, preferably no egg whites, and… wait for it… almost no bitters. Yes, they are “philosophers of mixology” and you’re either in or out. But their drinks are the best and cleanest in town in our book, and if you are a serious cocktails aficionado, you might find yourself coming back to Parlous every single night. (No, really, we have had guests who went through this.) Also, their use of and interest in vintage cocktail glasses reaches near-fetish levels. In short, one of the best places to go in Prague, regardless of category.
L’Fleur is the ying to Tretter’s (see below) yang: literally a few steps off one of Prague’s main "meat markets”, L’Fleur is a place for adults: the music is a bit softer and the tunes are a bit older (come to think of it, this may actually apply to the guests, too). The bar is owned by some of Prague mixology's usual suspects (some of them winning big trophies) and there is a clear drive for quality. The interiors are geared towards the classic 1920s bar, incl. wooden panels, leather-bound seating boxes, and a stained window in the back. We’ve tried a few of their signature drinks and the flavors were great, and the friendly waiters explain all the drinks, including their history or motivation behind them. In addition to cocktails, the bar offers a fantastic selection of Champagnes, and we’re not talking the supermarket kind. The bubbles sold in L’Fleur come from a carefully curated selection for people who love and know their Champagne. If you're one of them, give L'Fleur a try.
Other Favorite Bars in Prague
Cash Only Bar
Cash Only Bar, the younger sister of Hemingway Bar just a two-minute walk away, was born because the Hemingway is nearly always crowded and they needed to deal with the high demand. Cash Only is a much more casual place than the mothership, and even the staff is dressed down for the occasion with jeans, t-shirts and hipster aprons. Three main rules: no reservations, no smoking and… no credit cards. Duh. Cash Only has a monthly drinks menu of about 12 drinks, but they will prepare any classic drink when you ask. Two bar foods are served along with the drinks: hot dogs with chips (while the hot dogs are nice, the chips are just regular Bohemia chips sold in stores) and popcorn. Cash Only feels a bit “faster” than Hemingway: while you could spend the entire evening at Hemingway, Cash Only is a place that fits well into a night of bar-hopping. The soundtrack is eclectic and fairly loud, but this is a much smaller venue consisting of two narrow rooms: one on the ground floor and one in the basement, so make sure you check out the basement too even if the ground floor is full. The drinks are worth it.
Black Angel's is hardly a secret: the “Prohibition-style” bar is located in the cellar of the U Prince hotel in the Old Town Square and is one of the most popular bars in town. It is also popular among tourists and has become a sort of an attraction in itself, which may not suit everyone. The high ceilings of the cellars decorated by chandeliers and the old furniture create some captivating visuals. The bartenders also dress the part. Live piano or jazz band add to the atmosphere. This bar, which truly does attack all the senses with stunning visuals, music and even molecular mixology, can get very crowded later at night. Still, Black Angel’s has been winning all sorts of bartending awards and has invested in great tools, which allows them to turn out some pretty delicious drinks. Just beware that due to its location and exposure to tourism, this place may get a bit of a “meat market” feel at times, as young tourists pour in in larger groups.
Bonvivant's Cocktail Tapas Cafe
Bonvivant's has been recommended by several bartenders of the other bars listed here. The location is great, just a few steps off the Narodni street very near the National Theatre. Unlike other bars in Prague, Bonvivant's has a kitchen and serves hot tapas-sized dishes with the drinks. They even offer daily lunch specials, which means they double as a restaurant during the day.
The key to understanding Bonvivant’s is understanding the quirky owner, Eduard, who seems to know everyone in Prague’s bartending world and who has a specific view on how drinks are supposed to be made. There is something almost Japanese about the way the “master” and the “disciples” behave to each other, or how they dress (tie under a white bartender’s apron). The bar is actually a fairly low-key affair in terms of the interiors, but the bartenders make up for it with the showy way they prepare drinks: if there is a bar in Prague operated by what has all the visual signs of “cocktail nerds”, Bonvivant is it.
Tretter’s seems like the most crowded and the busiest of the Prague bars listed here, and reservations are clearly recommended. We managed to snatch the last two bar stools at about 10pm the last time we went there. People who came in later had to stand by the bar.
Tretter’s is a happy place: an uptempo oldies playlist is blasted fairly loud and people clearly come here to have fun and reunite with friends. It seems to be a very popular place for birthday parties and other social events. Admittedly, Tretter’s can have the feel of a “meat market”, which can be a bad or a good thing, depending on what you are looking for. Needless to say, the drinks are tasty, and Tretter’s is the place to go if you want a taste of “Prague nightlife”.
Bar and Books
Bar and Books is exactly what it says it is: bar and books. And cigars, too: they sell them on the spot. You have to ring a bell to get in, which is nice because it prevents big groups from coming in, making a huge mess, realizing that they picked the wrong place, and walking out. They have two branches in Prague: one near the Tyn church in the Old Town, and one in the Vinohrady district. We visit the one in the Old Town, a fairly small venue with lighting levels that make it very difficult to take a picture of just about anything, let alone the drinks.
And the drinks we like: usually well-made classics with a few of their own touches. If you like Bond... James Bond, you will like this place and their selection of Bond-inspired drinks like Vesper or Golden Eye. You sit by the table and the welcoming staff helps you with the selection of drinks and brings you small snacks to go with them. The atmosphere of this bar is a bit more intimate and subdued compared to, let’s say, Tretter’s. But B&B remains one of your top choices of you’re looking for a great bar in the Old Town.
Bugsy's Bugsy's is the place when you want a Cuban cigar with your drink: there is a plethora of cigars of different sizes and shapes displayed in the humidor right next to the entry door. The bar dominates Bugsy’s more modern room (Bugsy’s looks more like an jet-setting first-class airport lounge rather than somebody’s Victorian library), with a few smaller and larger tables around it. The bartenders are clearly skillful and their plays on well-known cocktails are great. Zuzi had the best drink of our little bars excursion lately - a gin-based gimlet - at Bugsy’s. The gelatin-based foam Mojito also seems very interesting, although it is designed for larger groups. On top of all that, we like their playlist: modern and nearly disco-like, but unobtrusive. Bugsy’s also focuses on Champagne so this is the place to go to have a glass or two… or ten, although L’Fleur’s selection is a bit more interesting we think.