As Warsaw’s enters its second blast of winter, join us for a look inside our favorite winter cocktail dens…
Opened at a time when Warsaw was going through its speakeasy phase, Back Room owes its continued success to more than just its jazzy, Prohibition era vibe. True, its decadent interior doesn’t half cast a spell with its plush fabrics, muted lighting and flickering fireplace, but it’s the drinks that have the final word. Using pedigree ingredients to maximum effect, this upmarket venue is unimpeachable in winter.
Bar & Books Podwale
Wąski Dunaj 20
For fireside cocktails in a book-lined, wood-paneled parlor then look no further than Bar & Books. Soothing and sophisticated, trust the intuitive black tie service to find the drink for the moment. Given the location, it goes without saying that any wintry evening spent here should conclude with a moonlit walk around the Old Town’s charming, misty streets.
Wojciecha Górskiego 9
Such is the standard, it’s impossible to call out Warsaw’s best cocktail bar, but somewhere towards the top invariably stands the intimate El Koktel. Starlit with Edison bulbs, and touting a palm-sized mezzanine over which you can peer at the bar, the rich midnight colors of El Koktel are paired with a sublime drinks offer that takes you down almost impossible twists and turns.
Wilcza 73 (Nobu Hotel)
With the snow piles mounting outside, who doesn’t love shuffling down icy streets before making their way down into a subterranean jazz den. If that’s you, then look no further than Jassmine, a premium address that could serve as a backdrop for a David Lynch project. Classy and intriguing, the enveloping darkness of this venue is pierced by dozens of orb-like table lamps and overhead lights that bring to mind a dazzling star fall. The drinks are expertly fixed and sip all the better when paired with live music.
Żelazna 51/53 (Norblin Factory)
Norblin’s Piano Bar works all-year round, but in winter its sense of easy prosperity provides a glint of optimism when skies are bleak. Dazzling with its 12-foot chandelier, the Gatsby vibe is given added oomph by a design that makes use of chessboard floors and wisely-chosen extras. The program of concerts elevate the weekend atmosphere with funks and blues jams something of a forte.
Lane’s Gin Bar
Krakowskie Przedmieście 42/44
Perched inside the luxurious Bristol Hotel, the womb-like warmth of Lane’s could have been designed with Warsaw’s cruel winters high in the mind – looking floaty with its peachy pink colors and generous poufs, it’s a bar that ensconces its patrons from the gloom outside. Specializing in cocktails made from exclusive small-batch gins, the perfect proportions of this bar are more in tune to a private members club. Gently riffing on the building’s Art Deco and Art Nouveau design, you settle in here to bask in the good life.
Named after the Slavic god of the underworld, find Weles discreetly located in a basement down a hidden side alley. Plunged down a dark stairwell, it’s a place born with indulgence in mind. Touting a zinc 1920s ceiling imported from the States, a crystal chandelier and a wooden bar carved from a British carousel, it’s truly a work of refined craftsmanship. Untwining across different levels, even the toilet here is a joy. Sophisticated and inventive, the cocktails provide the final reason why this bar has long been regarded as one of the best in its class.
Evoking the hedonistic climate of inter-war Warsaw, the esteem that Woda Ognista is held in is underlined by its Facebook following of 13,000 plus – not bad at all for a bar submerged below street level on an otherwise quiet stretch of Wilcza. Concocted by dapper, waistcoated gentlemen, the cocktails are exquisite and include such sips as Fuchs & Synie. Named after a pre-war chocolate factory, it’s a beautiful mix of double cream Belvedere vodka, grainy chocolate liqueur and coconut foam. It’s all the better being served up in an extraordinary interior that involves pre-war photos of showbiz stars, antique cocktail equipment and a preserved tiled stove.