By Seth Sherwood
Photography by Lauryn Ishak
According to Guinness World Records, the Czech Republic chugs more beer per capita than any other nation on earth. Wine bars, however, long overshadowed by their barley-fueled counterparts, are at last blossoming here, thanks in part to increasingly good local vintages from the country’s largest growing region, Moravia.
From sleek contemporary havens to cozy hideaways, the new hangouts serve up an atmosphere – and a wine list – for any mood.
1. Red Pif: The Cool Kid
Prague’s storybook historical quarter of Staré Mesto got an injection of cool three years ago with the arrival of this angular, airy, gallery-like bar and restaurant.
2. Vinograf: The Gourmand
Distinguishing Characteristic: They specialize in natural and biodynamic wines.
The Atmosphere: Contemporary Czech art adorns the spare, light-gray walls, and a retro-style Crosley turntable with a crate of vintage LPs (from Patti Smith to Donna Summer to The Police) provides sonic ambience.
On the Menu: From continental classics – say, mussels in white wine – to rustic Czech staples such as beef neck in tomato sauce. Knowledgeable waitstaff can find a local vintage to match, whether a gamy Spielberg pinot noir or a medium-bodied Gotberg merlot. Betlémská 9; 420-2/22-232- 086.
3. Pas à Pas: The Frenchie
Distinguishing Characteristic: Tablet devices hold Vinograf’s vast menu of Czech and international food and wines.
The Atmosphere: A vaulted, contemporary interior filled with young professionals.
The Menu: Traditional treats include goulash, grilled beef tongue, fresh bread with pork-fat spread (pair it with a glass of fruity, friendly Michlovský frankovka), and baked pork belly with crispy fried onions, apple chunks, and grated horseradish (agreeably accompanied by Krásná Hora winery’s soft and rounded pinot noir). Senovážné Námestí 23; 420-2/24- 142-050.
A 2012 vintage, this rambling warren of interconnected rooms suggests the house of a Czech auntie who fell in love with France.
Distinguishing Characteristic: Patrons troop across the plank floor to self-service refrigerators, which contain vacuum-sealed bags of indie and organic wines hailing mainly from southern France.
The Atmosphere: The decor mixes framed French historical maps and scattered piles of French books with potted plants, vintage lamps, stacked crates, and mismatched chairs.
What’s On Tap: Grab a glass and pour yourself some Domaine Saint-Pierre red (a robust, jammy blend of grenache, carignan, and syrah) or one of the dozens of other Gallic offerings. The accounting method is equally old-fashioned: the honor system. Na Hrobci 1; 420-7/33-785-377.
Praha Posts: where to lay your head in Prague.
Baroque, Renaissance, classical, and modern structures unite in the Four Seasons Hotel Prague
. The 161 rooms and suites of this Old Town landmark come
in an assortment
of styles, from the baroque Presidential Suite’s sumptuous reds and golds to the airy Renaissance rooms’ hand-painted stenciling.
In a quiet neighborhood steps from Prague Castle and the Charles Bridge, the 99-room Mandarin Oriental, Prague
offers contemporary rooms on the site of a fourteenth-century monastery – and
a two-level spa in a former Renaissance chapel.
A thirteenth-century complex of seven buildings houses the 99 rooms and suites of The Augustine Prague
. One-of-a-kind features such as Czech cubist decorations, 360-degree views from The Tower Suite, and the subterranean St. Thomas Brewery Bar make this property a destination in itself.
Originally appeared in Virtuoso Life magazine, November 2014.
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