Attention to all visitors to Poland! If you consider drinking as part of a country's cultural exposure and experience, you are not alone. Both Barry and I are of the same opinion in that there is a lot to be learned of a country's sociocultural factors through its drinking-cultures and associated lifestyles. So, visiting an eclectic mix of Varsovian vodka bars, microbreweries and cocktail bars gave us an excellent array of study material. Someone had to do the research!
Our diligent and systematic drinking investigations led us to the following whisky, vodka, cocktail and beer joints which we highly recommend for you to savor and take joy in while visiting the Polish capital. We hope you clink your glasses, just as we did, and socially immerse into Warsaw's mixed spirit livelihood. Na zdrowie! (To health!)
Podwale Bar and Books: As described on its website, "this New York-style bar is spread over two floors in a building known as the White House. Arranged in the British colonial style with a tailor-made bar, dark wood paneling, soft leather banquettes and fire place, this cozy bar offers a wide range of whiskies, from Scotch to Japanese, champagnes and wines exclusively imported from Germany, France, Spain and South Africa, premium spirits such as aged rums and luxury vodkas, as well as cocktails ranging from classics to signature ones. Cigar Aficionados have their choice from world-known brands to special Bar and Books' cigars that are exclusively hand-made at a family-run shop in New York."
A cosmopolitan cocktail and cigar bar in Warsaw’s Old Town.
Barry fancied the Whisky Flight with Cigar. Excellent choice for the Scotsman.
Note to American visitors: show your ID to the barman and you will receive a complimentary Bar and Books' Cigar. I got mine!
Piwne Podziemie: "Piwne Podziemie (or Beer Underground) is a craftbrewery founded by Darius Piecuch and his wife, Ewelina, beer lovers, who have gained experience in the United States (Dariusz Piecuch is co-founder of a local home brewers association)." - http://www.beerpubs.com/br906,Piwne%20Podziemie
Piwne Podziemie's Logo at the bar entrance.
Celebrating Barry's pre-birthday just the way he likes it...with craft beer (and me by his side)!
I absolutely love this microbrewery's fun and creative approach to beer tap logos. Excellent illustrations and quirky beer names.
Chmielarnia Multitap: Although a bit tough to find at first, this Asian fusion restaurant has a great selection of craft beer to choose from. It is located inside the basement of a building off Twarda 42 street. Not a pretentious place at all, we had a chilled out afternoon sampling beers while celebrating Barry's actual birthday.
6 Cocktails: Located in Warsaw's City Center, this cool hidden gem is posh, covert, with a complete selection of alcohol ready to be made into well-mixed cocktails. Although advice for entry comprised of "...emailing the staff beforehand and being sent an invitation," Barry and I went through the unconventional norm of showing up, calling the phone number provided on Facebook, and following the instructions provided to open the wrought iron entrance gate and go up the stairs to Flat #6. Definitely a place where exotic and good looking people dressed-to-impress, Barry and I did not fashionably fit. However, regardless of our casual look, the passionate and knowledgable bartenders were incredibly welcoming and nonjudgemental. Extra points to 6 Cocktails for that!
Options are always good, and 6 Cocktails offers you plenty of those.
Eat Polska Vodka Tour: What an excellent birthday gift for my husband! We got to share amongst excellent company who were equally passionate about learning, tasting and socializing amongst new folk. The vodka tour took place within the span of a few hours, and it was superbly organized. We walked from one bar to another where we enjoyed an excellent variety of vodka samples along with traditional Polish foods. The cherry on top was our tour guide, Michał, who is exceptionally talented, intelligent, and passionate about vodka and food. He embraces these two into a larger picture where geography, history and international affairs come into play, and you get a broader view of how and why vodka and the taster food samples are important in Polish culture. He has a fantastic sense of humor and he knows how to work a group; better yet, it felt like being amongst friends who met for an afternoon to hang out and learn while chilling out with a few vodkas in hand. In summary, we recommend it.
Picture above: Wyborowa (pure, white rye vodka) enjoyed at Afera amongst new friends and nóżki z octem (pork trotters in jelly with vinegar).
Żołądkowa Gorzka (yellowish, herbal, sweet infused vodka) savored with bigos (sauerkraut, meat & mushrooms stew). Perfect combination!
J.A. Baczewski [Polish/Austrian potato vodka] sampled first at Metr Nad Ziemią.
While at this bar, chleb ze smalcem i ogórkiem kiszonym (bread with lard and fermented gherkin) was offered to accompany all three provided vodka samples.
Sample number 2: Soplica Pigwowa (quince-infused vodka). I gave it a thumbs up.
Barry loved sample number 3 - Pravda Espresso (roasted coffee beans-infused grain vodka). I must admit, it was one of my favorites as well.
Third stop on our vodka bar tour...Bibenda.
We got to taste and learn about Vestal Vodka, a single distillation new potato vodka. It had mixed reviews amongst the group, but one thing we did agree on was that it was deliciously paired with biała kiełbasa z soczewicą, sezonowymi warzywami, ogórkiem małosolnym i domowym sosem barbecue (fried 'white' sausage with lentils, seasonal vegetables, half-sour fermented gherkin, and homemade barbecue sauce).
Our last stop was Woda Ognista. Great atmosphere.
Vodka on the menu for the tour: Żubrówka (bison grass rye vodka).
Custom-made Bison grass vodka cocktails. Barry's choice - an Old Fashioned (without rum, of course).
I preferred for the mixologist to do his magic and surprise me. I got a smokey orange flavorful cocktail (name of cocktail completely forgotten!).
Our job had been done; we had researched, intermingled with the locals, learned about drinks and food, and enormously enjoyed ourselves. We even made a new Polish friend...our tour guide! We look forward to meeting up with him in the very near future in our upcoming Poland trip. Let's see which libation and location we shall choose for our reunion!
Please join us for our next BESPOKE travel blog post when we discover the Buchan Coast in northeastern Scotland.
Until then, happy reading and safe travels!
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