A guide to the Austrian capital city’s evolving nightlife scene.
In Vienna, talk of drinking often revolves around coffee, that beverage of choice savored amid the newspaper sticks and scuffed marble tables at the city’s old, wood-paneled cafes. These atmospheric institutions, once the hangouts of arts and political luminaries, are sought after for their frothy Wiener Melanges and slabs of Apfelstrudel.
But it would behoove visitors to explore another realm of Viennese drinking culture, as a number of bars seduce with equal might. Just like many other European metropolises, Vienna’s cocktail scene, albeit more subdued than, say, those of Berlin and Paris, is already very impressive. Many lairs have been quietly churning out Daiquiris and Last Words for years, their deep-seated reverence for the classics jiving with today’s predilection for streamlined mixology.
There’s the circa-1908 Loos American Bar, of course, a wee architectural jewel abundant in mirrors and tourists because of wowing design details like a coffered ceiling and a knack for Martinis. But there is also Hammond, a long-time neighborhood spot with an alluringly curvy bar where the celebrated mixtress Sigrid Ehm upgrades Margaritas with olive jelly and makes lavender-licorice-gold syrup to bolster Cognac. Tür 7, a mysterious former office building presided over by Gerhard Kozbach-Tsai, one of Vienna’s pioneering barmen, is yet another excellent experience. There is no menu at this dark, secretive, reservations-only den (whose owner refuses to advertise), but at a bar that feels more like a showpiece kitchen, a craving for whisky might lead to an on-the-fly concoction with Laphroaig, apple juice, and sweet vermouth.
Elegance is a hallmark of Viennese culture, but bartenders are punctuating the everyday with a bit of whimsy—even the sophisticated Tür 7 offers gratis popcorn to its guests—creating an attractive blueprint for imbibing.