Forget the bog standard, escape the generic by ticking off these twelve utterly unique drinkeries…
VHS packs a helluva’ lot of fun inside its tiny little footprint. Themed around the 80s, this pint-sized cellar is embellished with pink neons and super-fun cocktails fixed by laugh-loving staff in zany shirts. But the toilet is the clincher! Inside, you’ll be squeezing in next to a chunky phone, a portable hi-fi, a pair of plastic flamingos and pictures of Mr. T, Mitch Buchanan and other heroes of the era. It’s abso-LOO-utely bonkers.
ul. Kolejowa 8A
Unexpectedly announcing itself in a kaleidoscope of retro noise and color, the split-floor Pinball Station is home to dozens twinkling pinball machines, not to mention a number of arcade classics such as Pac-Man and Mortal Kombat. But these machines are not just there to covet from afar. For a flat fee you can play for as long as you want before hitting up their bar for a breaktime pint.
ul. Poznańska 21
Inspired by The Jetsons, the moon landings and the atom, the Paloma Inn is a childlike joy of lunar lines, pea green colors and furnishings and fittings that are retro-futuristic. Adorned with plants and a curvaceously bizarre ceiling light, your eyes dart all over the place before settling onto a sweepy bar that’s as snaky as the letter ‘s’. Complementing it all, find groovy muzak, fondue sets, weird cocktails and a toilet that stops you in your tracks with its bold mandarin colors.
Lane’s Gin Bar
Krakowskie Przedmieście 42/44 (Bristol Hotel)
Featuring no shortage of brass, glass, stone and satin, the floaty, peachy-pink ambience is lent further oomph by what we reckon to be the best lux cocktails in the city. Perfectly proportioned, Lane’s is intimate enough to feel like a private members club, and that sense of personalization peaks when you discreetly enquire about their little black book. Within this secret tome lie recipes scrawled down by the regulars: taking pride of place, none other than an entry by the best-selling author Szczepan Twardoch.
ul. Wilcza 9A
You know it’s been an epic weekend when you wake up on Monday knowing that Foton was involved. Conversation with strangers is natural after a few of Foton’s cocktails, but it makes this list for a super cool design that’s involves plenty of raw materials and a vast green fleet of tumbling plants – keeping them alive is a quite brilliant irrigational contraption set around the steel frames that support it all. It sure is a quite a sight.
ul. Bagatela 10
There is nothing ordinary about Worek Kości and it could as easily earn a place on this list for its décor (over 400 replica skulls) as it could its burlesque entertainment program. Instead though, those amusements are edged out by their regular roster of lectures on criminal profiling, forensics, serial killers and execution methods. A passionate celebration of the beautiful and bizarre, this bar has no equal in its genre.
Nowy Świat 54/56
There is nothing typical about Cybermachina, so boxing it under such a catch-all term doesn’t do it justice. This place is bonkers! Specializing in games (both played on boards and on screens), find this labyrinthine basement illuminated with neon lights depicting legends such as Pac-Man, glass cabinets filled with helmets and rubber masks, a mannequin of Mortal Kombat’s Scorpion and a urinal that announces “You’re Breathtaking” in glowing 3D lettering. Oh, and there’s a Game of Thrones toilet. Best of all, the side room evokes a 90s-style Polish living room complete with a wall unit whose shelves house treasures such as a vintage boombox, a groovy KK-628 calculator watch, the works of Terry Pratchett, a Pegasus gaming machine and vases of plastic flowers.
ul. Kruczkowskiego 3B
Over a decade ago Warszawa Powiśle was the cradle of Warsaw’s hipster revolution. Since reinvented as an upmarket cocktail bar, its current swanky guise is all the more surprising given the history of this address. Built in the 1960s, this rotunda was for several decades a ticket booth serving the needs of travelers using the train station above (which in itself was inspired by the Soviet Union’s forays into space). Today, surviving original features include power boxes and a PRL era neon crowning the building.
ul. Foksal 16
Marketing themselves not as a multi-tap but a hyper-tap, Piw Paw walk the walk with a stretch of 79 taps. Say that slowly: seventy-nine taps. Featuring some of the wackiest members of Poland’s craft movement, they also deserve a hat-tip for finding space for more understandable sips such as Czech lagers and Belgian ales. If you can’t find something that suits your tastes, you should maybe think about giving up drinking for the rest of your life.
W Oparach Absurdu
Somewhere, buried deep beneath the creaking antiques and moth-eaten Persian rugs, you might be lucky to find a wood-carved bar. With craft beer balanced in one hand, and six vodkas on a saucer in the other, you then need all the luck in the world to bulldoze through the scrum that has gathered to listen to Balkan rockers, Afro-Latin bands and the spectacularly named Bum Bum Orchestra. Delve deeper still to discover the ace in the sleeve: a cramped smoking room that will linger long in both your memory and hair. Around a circular table, you sit with Praga’s most colorful characters in an atmosphere redolent of a pre-war gambling den.
ul. Marszałkowska 45/49
Seeing the city hanging upside down no longer requires a strong dose of hallucinogens, but rather a side trip to Warmut. Popular with off-duty DJs, influencers, K-Mag journos, street artists and heavily tattooed barbers, the cool factor at Warmut is often too high to compute. But that’s not why you should visit: do so to perv over the scale models of Warsaw’s modernist landmarks that hang from the ceiling. As an interior detail, it’s absolutely extraordinary.
Nowy Świat 18/20
If ever a bar could be described as an anthropological study, then Piotruś would be that place. A remarkable time capsule, this jolly little boozer opened in 1958 and has been stewarded by Irena Dankowska since 1985. Cloaked in shadowy shades of scarlet, join vodka guzzling old timers inside a pint-sized space filled with ramshackle extras accumulated over the decades. A living history lesson, it’s a classic commie leftover – brilliantly, they have bowed to modern times to serve a couple of craft beers.