Venetian-themed, join us for a look at the Warsaw bar everyone is talking about…
We’ve been around long enough to remember the birth of Warsaw’s cocktail culture – a time when, by in large, the places on the leader board were all content to look the same. Laughable now when you think about it, but in those days to be considered a legitimate cocktail bar you needed to look like a first class airport lounge: slick, suave and totally generic. How the worm has turned.
Today, it’s all about establishing a mood and a message; having a personality to convey. Failing to do so means you’re already doomed. So how do Va Bene Cichetti fare in all of this? In a nutshell, very well indeed. Great things come in small packages, and VBC are a case in point. Emitting a warm red glow that can be seen from Mars, it’s a place that draws punters in like a Siren’s song.
Themed on the spirit of Venice, the design saw the recruitment of NOKE Architects, a studio that interpreted their brief to quite stunning effect. Rich in golds and operatic reds, these give way to aquatic colors that become noticeable the moment you glance to your feet – visiting the bathroom downstairs, meanwhile, is akin to being submerged in the waters, so dominant are the turquoise shades.
Back on ground level, and details abound: table legs painted in gondola stripes; a travertine bar; and a mosaic spanning one wall made from shards of Venetian mirrors.
Fundamentally, however, its size is both a pleasure and a problem – with the outdoor terrace most likely being deleted sometime in order, the compact interior stands to face further pressure. That said, it’s this sense of intimacy that many come for – this is not the anonymous cocktail lounge of old, instead it’s representative of new wave Warsaw: a place that feels private and personal.
Saliently, that’s not merely down to the design. On entry – having first passed under their neon lion – you’re straight away face-to-face with the bartender.
We can think of many places where that would not work, but at VBC that most likely means being greeted by Kuba, the former cocktail prince of Foton.
And oh yes, the cocktails here work. Subtle works of art, the speed and efficiency with which these are prepared belie the quality at play.
Tailored around Italian ingredients, these include six versions of the negroni, not to mention a tall and cool drink identified as the Amaro Thirsty: oleo saccharum (the mix from sugared rinds of citrus), Angoustura bitter, fernet branca, Amaro Averna, soda and rhubarb sugar.
Matched with a concise list of Prosecco and Martini-based cocktails, it’s a drinks choice that slides in sync with a chic crowd where – quite often – the ladies outnumber the chaps.
Launched by the same couple behind Va Bene on Tamka (a similarly snug locale, only that venture inspired by Rome), food also plays a part – there’s not much to choose from, but these go far beyond the bar snacks of old.
Find here oyster tempura with yuzu, mango and ponzu or calamari served with a dash of coriander mayo. Small snacks basically, but detail-driven and quality-led. Much like the place itself.
Va Bene Cicchetti
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