Wine bars might be my second favorite food venues right after bistros. No kids, no noisy youngsters or perplexed tourists. Wine bars are always a bit invisible and overlooked in the streets as they are mostly open during the late hours. You might agree that it is not a place where the most people dare to be, intimidated by the sophisticated wine world. However, it could pay off to enter as you might unintentionally discover something new in your life. Admittedly it seems you would better know what you want (to drink) in a wine bar more than in any other place.
… you might unintentionally discover something new in your life.
I feel in a wine bar much more relaxed and due to my age, not that inappropriate as in a cocktail bar. Experiences from the legendary Berlin’s Cordobar will always remain in my mind as a pinnacle of exuberant but cultured fun whenever I feel like going out. A fun beyond Bratislava’s reach and its dodgy barrelhouses and post-socialist wine restaurants. In this area, there is not a venue that would be popular and crowded you would stand in line just to be „in“. A modern wine bar where wine would be the first and the last, accompanied by the inspirational design, artworks, music (of a high standard!) and mostly by the creative food.
Maybe I am so obsessed with the wine bars because they are at the moment unavailable to me. Unless our kids reach the age they can stay home alone at night, my wine bar visits will limit to occasional holiday sprees and scarce weekend runaways. (Let alone to meet up with friends who have young kids too…) But I got used to the fact that the right things here more than in any other place take much more effort and endurance, I still can find a couple of venues in Bratislava worth to go out for wine.
Right on the Main Square (Hlavné námestie) in the historic city center, there is a newish wine bar Wine Not!? And for as much as I do not like sitting outside straight among the rambling tourists in summer, I like the idea of hiding inside in winter whenever I am around. Different wine events, tastings, and presentations organized here reflect the serious wine intentions. Wine Not!? is a wine bar where you could learn something, get to know new people and get entertained. They do not just passively wait for your money to come along, they can offer something.
Similarly, Vínimka on Ventúrska St. right in the historical building of Academia Istropolitana is a pleasant place. Strong wine community is built here, too, exciting wine meet-ups and pairings occur. Just leave a contact, stay informed and „welcome to the club“. In Vínimka’s cognac salon I remembered with my husband our academic years as it once used to be a part of our alma mater, the former Academy of Arts. By the way, Vínimka’s restored historic vault was a nominee for Slovak architecture awards in 2013. Beautiful wine glasses, chairs, and restrooms are also worth noting. Check for the Friday’s live DJ nights; you cannot start your weekend in Bratislava better. And if you are into bubbles, do not miss Loimer sparkling wine here. It is just like „champagne“, but for a far affordable price.
A bit further towards the St. Martin’s Cathedral on Rudnayovo Square, there is Pinot u Bruna, a hidden gem in the historic city center. The whole neighborhood here feels like a time capsule, taking you back to the last century. It might be hard to get in without a previous booking, as Pinot u Bruna is more of a home than a business, but if you do, you could be lucky to taste some real homemade food. Check their menu on the board and order a „halászlé“ (Hungarian freshwater fish stew), but if it is not available, just ask for their delicious homemade pates with pickles instead. And of course, a glass of German Riesling, if you like. This retro venue is a must, if you want to experience something different, e. i. listening to the old-school vinyl discs and getting that „good old times“ feeling for a change.
Last, but not least, you can find some great wine bars out of the city center, too, for instance in the housing blocks at the farther city quarters. Would you like to have a fabulous wine bar downstairs in your house? We do and envy our friends who do so with the Dvedeci wine bar. This cozy bar is in the vicinity of the lake Štrkovecké jazero or well-known Pasienky basketball hall, national tennis center or Inter football stadium. Have you lately had some Malbec, anyway? You had not? So, please, do ask here for that beautifully smoky Argentinian one from Kaiken and order a bowl of freshly roasted salty almonds to nibble with it, it is heaven!
We perhaps do not have the perfect wine bars like Berlin or Prague have, but we do have enthusiastic people who know how wine should be enjoyed and devoured. I see the bright future for the wine party pop-ups rising. I could recommend e. i. Humbuk pop-ups in Bratislava. Check their web for planned-ahead events as they get most out of them – identifying unusual, gorgeous places, wineries, and artists to get together. Humbuk’s objective is to present natural wines to a broader public and support their makers, who care for nature, people, communities, and traditions. (Accordingly, their first pop-up wine party was organized last year in an art bookstore U Adama owned by the architect Adam Berka and they presented the flagship of the Slovak natural wine Slobodné vinárstvo – Majer Zemianske Sady. How cool is that?)
Humbuk’s pop-ups are rising and getting better and better. I might not participate soon due to my young family commitments. However, I feel they will survive, evolve and await me eventually. Activities that do not stand on the fancy premises or marketing tools, but on the people and their passion. From this ground, the best things in life are being born even in worse conditions. We just need higher ambitions, demands and reach out.