The streets and architecture of Vienna are so beautiful that you may never want to go inside again. But since you will inevitably want a drink and a chat with a handsome local, there are plenty of incredible options.
We put together a short list here:
1. Happy hour at City Bar
Hole-in-the-wall bars are special, and that’s partly because they can be hard to find. City Bar is a small, mostly gay space that could be easy to miss, as people hurry past to get to the popular Why Not discotheque across the street. But City Bar often has a crowd outside, because the little space fills up so quickly–and that’s a credit to the charming owner, Martin Kuen, who has built a loyal following with his friendly service and well-crafted cocktails. Try one of the house specialties, the delicious shots, with flavors like Strawberry Ice Cream, Blueberry Cheesecake, and Whiskey Chocolate.
2. Austrian wine and beer at Felixx Bar
The place in Vienna to see and be seen is Felixx, where bartenders who are as friendly as they are pretty. The full line of top-shelf liquor means the cocktail menu is extensive, making it a popular choice for evening martinis, and as evening becomes night this posh spot becomes very busy. But the real star here is the selection of Austrian wine and beer: the only exception is German-made Heineken. For the unfamiliar, try a Grüner Veltliner, a white grape that is commonly grown in Austria.
3. Coffee at Cafe Savoy
Coffee is more than a drink in Vienna; it is a tradition, a part of the city’s identity, and the locals can be very serious about how they partake in their caffeine. UNESCO recognizes the city’s coffeehouses as “intangible” cultural heritage, and for good reason. The Viennese coffeehouses was where Mozart and Beethoven would get amped up on caffeine and write music all night, or Sigmund Freud would host meetings of his Vienna Psychoanalytic Society and chart the course for psychology as it is known today. Partake in a little coffee and a lot of history, and have a drink at Cafe Savoy for a classic Viennese coffeehouse experience: ornate chandeliers, white marble tabletops, and coffee served with a side of water. Perhaps you’ll bump into Tiefe Kümmernis (photo above) or a friendly local having a beer. Just a bit of adivce: when you are ready to order your drink, do0n’t hesitate to ask for help, because there are a lot of choices for how coffee is prepared in Vienna. This isn’t Starbucks.
4. Schnapps at Schnapsmuseum
Austria is the birthplace of schnapps, although Americans know it as a very different beverage. Austrian schnapps is a fine liquor, made from premium ingredients with no artificial flavors. The result is a smooth, delicious drink, and in Vienna, apricot schnapps is particularly popular. For a crash course in becoming a proper schnappser, take a tour at Old Viennese Schnapsmuseum, a museum devoted to all things schnappsy. Visitors can sample as many varieties as they can handle while still being able to walk along the tour. Reservations required.
5. Sturm at your favorite heuriger
Every autumn, the Viennese wine industry produces a delicious young wine, sturm, that causes a bit of an oenophile panic. It must be drunk right away; sturm can’t be sold in corked bottles, because it is still fermenting, nor can it be stored, as it lasts only a few days. The northwestern outskirts of Vienna has several towns with vineyards, known as heurige (plural form of heuriger), that sell the alluringly sweet beverage, and are absolutely adorable to visit as well. Start by exploring Neustift am Walde, Heiligenstadt, Sievering, Grinzing, Nussdorf, or perhaps Salmannsdorf or Stammersdorf, and be careful when driving, because the sweetness of sturm’s flavor hides the alcohol content. And don’t forget to also buy a bottle of regular wine to take home.
Did we mention Austrian wine is excellent?