With Warsaw firmly under ice, join us for a look at our favorite winter pubs…
When temperatures nosedive, who doesn’t love a subterranean dive buried down a narrow set of stairs. Looking almost cave-like, there’s a spirit here that puts you instantly at ease. Run by a team of Belarussian exiles (Lukashenko Out!), the welcome from the owners is warm and sincere, and their presence has helped create a friendly but rowdy community of drinkers that hail from Poland’s eastern borders. Craft beers are present, but so too are more standard lager. That said, as the night draws in, don’t be surprised to find yourself swapping them for shots whilst all hell breaks loose.
Haberbuscha i Schielego 2 (Browary Warszawskie)
It’s a tribute to Browar’s designers that, in spite of its multiple levels, huge sparkling windows and quite enormous size, it is a place that affords a sense of intimacy. As swanky as it is, private nooks abound, and added character is lent by plenty of vintage sprinkles. Moreover, the brewing vats lend a centralizing element that naturally draws you in. Though rarely radical, the 18 house beers are brewed to craft practices and are nobly twinned with an exhaustive drinks choice that includes great cocktails and elite spirits that recognize that not everyone you hang around with is interested in beer alone. By being cozy but cosmopolitan it’s achieved the impossible.
We will never tire of recommending GZ. Seen as a greenish glow from afar, this pokey pub is an institution with over 25-years of service tucked below its belt. Decorated with hundreds of beer mats and number plates (leftovers from its distant stint as an American pub!), the cramped, woodsy interior is ideal to rub shoulders with its regulars. Despite carrying many epic beers from Poland’s rebel brewers, there’s nothing faddish about GZ and it’s this sense of normalcy that lends it its enduring appeal.
One of Warsaw’s oldest craft bars excels when in terms of atmosphere. Respectful of the building’s pre-war heritage, the brick interiors are thick with noise, clamor and the reassuring smell of spillage. But whilst the window-side front part is the most popular, in winter make your way to the back to discover an intimate space sprinkled with vintage armchairs and wonky old lamps set at a natural tilt. Often packed, the beers are among the most radical found in Warsaw.
Jammed between the Barbican gateway and the Rynek, Same Krafty’s Old Town location does nothing to harm its candidacy as one of Warsaw’s best January pints. An unflinchingly jolly refuge from the frostbitten streets, it’s the place to head for seasonal beers produced by Poland’s rebel brewers. On a cold day, not much beats a chocolate chili stout served inside a raucous and rugged tavern-like bar.
Żelazna 51/53 (Norblin Factory)
When it opened, we said straight away that it was the kind of place that would come into its element once the cold snap hit. And we were right! Set in a row of mews-like buildings, enter under a funky, photogenic neon before entering an area filled with carpenter-style workbenches and plush, comfy seats in eclectic clashing colors. Windowless as the main seating area is, this alone engages via the warmth of its vibe. Pouring some great craft beers, explore further to find a vaulted side room complete with creaking floorboards.
Regional and craft beers lurk within the fridge, but for the seminal Absurdu experience you’ll need to order a tray of vodkas before bulldozing through the crowds that gather to listen to Balkan rock and Afro-Latin bands. Somewhere, hidden deep beneath the creaking antiques and moth-eaten Persian rugs, you might be lucky to find a wood-carved bar, and just exploring this musty space is an adventure in itself. Emitting the kind of alternative Boho spirit more frequently found in artsy places like Kraków, delve further still to uncover a mouse hole of a smoking room packed with excitable regulars.