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Prague is renowned for its nightlife and from traditional taverns in Old Town to late-night lounges, and bars inspired by Ernest Hemingway and Charles Bukowski, the capital of the Czech Republic has something to suit every mood and budget.
The Lokál pub chain is best known for serving premium pilsner beer out of specially treated tanks. This branch, on Dlouhá Street in the Old Town, is the largest and has an interior modelled after the Czech beer halls of the ’60s and ’70s. In addition to fresh beer and simple local dishes, customers can sample traditional liqueurs served by the shot. This pub is as ideal for a relaxed afternoon pint as it is for kicking off a night out as there are plenty of nightclubs in the vicinity.
On the main avenue of the Letná neighbourhood, Bar Cobra operates as a sunlit bistro by day and a lively cocktail bar by night. The premises once belonged to a 24-hour gambling bar of the same name and have since been converted into a design-led space with broad windows, high ceilings and distressed walls. In a nod to its all-night heritage, the doors stay open until the early hours, seven days a week. Expect nightly DJ sets and a chilled but lively ambience.
The Golden Tiger, known locally as U Zlatého Tygra, offers an authentic Czech pub experience within the old touristic centre. In the evenings, the front benches are reserved for old-time regulars, who still come daily for the fresh pilsner on tap. The pub is famous for being Czech author Bohumil Hrabal’s regular haunt, while other notable patrons have included the first president of the Czech Republic, Václav Havel, and former US president Bill Clinton.
In the basement of the Hotel U Prince in Old Town Square, Black Angel’s Bar serves award-winning vintage cocktails in a Prohibition-era setting. The cocktail menu pays homage to Aloise Krchy, an early 20th-century Czech bartender and master mixologist who counted Al Capone, Coco Chanel and Charlie Chaplin among his acquaintances. In keeping with the speakeasy spirit, smart-casual attire is encouraged and hats and photography are banned.
In the heart of the Žižkov party district, this bar has a feeling of underground hedonism in which the writer Charles Bukowski, the chronicler of downtrodden urban America it pays homage to, would feel comfortable. With dim lighting, a cosmopolitan crowd and zigzagging shelves stocked with curios, Bukowski’s is popular with both Prague residents and tourists. The menu is all cocktails and no food, with half-pints of locally brewed Vinohradský lager available on tap. The sociable mood is encouraged by friendly bar staff and low music.
Serving fine cocktails in a quaint setting away from the bustling city centre, Elbow Room is the better behaved sibling of its sister bar, Bukowski’s. It features a well-stocked bar and a trio of tables and bar stools against a backdrop of low lighting and music. Customers can also take their drinks into a second, candlelit room with more seating and murals in the style of Native American cave paintings.
Its beer might get more attention, but there is a rich heritage of wine production in the Czech Republic too. Vinograf in Prague New Town offers a huge selection of more than 700 wines, many originating from the local Moravian region. Within a well-ventilated space lined with wall-to-wall bottles, customers can enjoy wine by the glass or bottle, along with a selection of Czech and international cuisine. Wine pairings are also available, with a staff of sommeliers on hand to assist you with suggestions.
This cocktail bar in the culturally vibrant Vršovice district offers stellar drinks in a convivial atmosphere. The vast open space is decorated with a well-stocked bookshelf, which takes up an entire wall, and simple wooden tables and armchairs. Customers can enjoy inventive twists on classic cocktails, with each one named after other neighbourhood bars and enterprises in the community.
Most Czech pubs tend to serve a single beer brand on draught, but this independent bar offers 32 different taps of craft beers, many of which rotate daily, along with hundreds of bottled ales. BeerGeek bar has its own in-house brand, Sibeeria Craft Brewery, as well as furnishings handcrafted by the owners. Food from the bar’s Flying Blue Monkey Kitchen includes sharing portions of chicken wings and other greasy snacks to accompany the brews.
In the ‘cocktail quarter’ of Dušní 9, Prague 1, the Hangar Bar is inspired by aviation from the 1940s to the 1960s and is divided into two distinct sections. The Hangar Pilot’s Lounge is a quiet space filled with memorabilia from the glory days of Pan Am, including the body of a Clipper aircraft, and where waitresses dressed as stewardesses serve up aviation-themed drinks. The Hangar Club is dedicated to Hollywood stunt pilots, aeroplane mechanics and World War II pilots. Make sure sure you get some fun shots of this bar for Instagram.
Right in trendy Old Town, El Mojito Café has natural wood accents and Latin-style artwork and bric-a-brac scattered on the walls, ceiling and various shelves. The exotic cocktails are all artfully assembled with fresh fruit and carefully balanced blends. Take a cue from the bar’s name and start with a mojito and with more than a dozen on the menu, there’s bound to be one that tickles your fancy.
Rich Francis contributed additional reporting to this article.