Sure, you could sit down with a foaming stein almost anywhere in Vienna and it’d do the job. But this grandiose city has a thriving cocktail culture that’s also worth exploring. From ritzy rooftops to underground dives and cutting-edge conversions – plus hotels and restaurants with dazzling in-house mixology – there’s a bar to suit pretty much every taste in the Austrian capital. If you feel a little worn out after a long day traipsing round the best attractions in Vienna, it’s probably time to sip something strong. Here are 10 excellent spots to get you started.
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Best bars in Vienna
What is it? An atmospheric, bare-bones bar on Gumpendorfer Strasse in the up-and-coming sixth district: think ‘The Matrix’ meets ‘Mad Men’. You’d be barking not to drop in if you’re passing.
Why go? There’s nowhere better to start the night (or end it; it’s open until 4am at the weekends). The classics – Old Fashioneds, Boulevardiers, martinis – are executed faultlessly, and reasonably priced to boot. The one to beat, though, is the Damascus Spritz, with rum and cardamom syrup.
What is it? A 1930s-inspired cocktail bar with a roof terrace that’s the place to see and be seen come summer. For a glamorous, grown-up evening, look no further.
Why go? With its Art Deco styling, acres of dark wood and chandeliers, Kleinod harks back to the golden age of cocktail drinking, but the mixology here is impressively futuristic – try the Lebkuchen, named after the Christmassy ginger biscuit. One thing to bear in mind: as in a fair few Austrian bars, drinkers can smoke inside.
What is it? Dating back to 1908, this mirrored, wood-panelled bar feels like stepping into a jewellery box. It’s a fixture on the tourist trail, but prove to the staff that you’re serious about staying for a drink and you’ll be rewarded with some of Vienna’s best classic cocktails.
Why go? It’s moodily magnificent, especially in the small hours of the morning – you’ll feel like you’re in ‘The Third Man’. The staff seriously know their way around a shaker; there are six different martinis and five Manhattans to choose from, all exemplary.
What is it? It’s kept its name from the days when it was an electrical supply store, and this bar hidden away in a courtyard down the Schulhofpassage still has a special kind of charge. The minimalist decor, daily-changing DJ line-up and film nights draw an arty crowd, and the drinks list is small but perfectly formed.
Why go? This place is the spirit of the sixth: independent, atmospheric, cool without trying too hard. It’s very reasonably priced, too – you’ll pay just €8 for a Negroni, a Paloma or a Moscow Mule.
What is it? Up on the 18th floor of the Sofitel Vienna Stephansdom, this classy number offers jaw-dropping views of the city and a menu of sophisticated twists on old favourites.
Why go? Watching the sun set over the rooftops with a glass of something strong and frosty in your hand is hard to beat. Try the Plata Roja, with saffron-infused tequila, or the signature blend of gin, cherry tomato, lime and basil syrup. A setting like this doesn’t come cheap and you have to dress up, but it’s worth it.
What is it? An arthouse cinema with one of Vienna’s friendliest and most laid-back bars. Book tickets to a screening and make a night of it.
Why go? As you’d expect from somewhere that attracts a young, alternative crowd, it’s really good value, with shorts around the €7 mark and nothing over €8.50. There’s a strong selection of craft beers too, and the toasties make excellent blotting paper.
What is it? Very new and very cool, Krypt used to be an under-the-radar jazz club in the 1950s, and still feels clandestine. Make your way down into the cavernous space and perch at the marble bar for whisky- and tequila-based specialities.
Why go? Forget gin in teacups – this has a real-deal speakeasy vibe, but it’s mercifully low on attitude too. There’s a no-reservations policy, so if you don’t want to wait it’s best to come early, or late.
What is it? A symphony in pastel pink, marble and decorative pineapples, this place is a ’grammer’s dream come true. But Miranda has style as well as substance – step this way for a night of expertly mixed drinks.
Why go? These are seriously classy, creative cocktails, but they won’t break the bank: everything comes in at around €10. We love the Italian aperitivo-inspired Signora Dolce (gin, suze, amaretto, strega and orange bitters) and the Petit Déjeuner À Montpellier (thyme-infused gin, mirtillo, walnut bitters, lime juice and ginger syrup).
What is it? The Hotel Sacher’s legendary bar is, as the name suggests, blue – very, very blue. But Smurfish furnishings aside, this is an exceedingly elegant spot.
Why go? There’s nothing the staff here don’t know about mixing world-class drinks. Stick to one, and steer clear of the bank-breaking champagne cocktails, and you can have a five-star time of it.
What is it? On the sixth floor of swanky design hotel Do & Co, Onyx has floor-to-ceiling windows that’ll make you feel like you’re actually on the roof of St Stephen’s Cathedral. The spirit selection elicits almost as much of a wow as the views.
Why go? You’ll be able to taste your way through one of the city’s most comprehensive cocktail lists. Don’t miss the barrel-aged tipples (try the Mexican Negroni), and the cocktails that take sparkling wine as their starting point.
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