The bars in Krakow are largely aimed at the partying tourists, each claiming to offer “the best cocktails in town”, with promotions girls on the street trying to talk you in. However, we have found some true and unique venues away from the stag-parties and large rowdy groups. It wasn’t easy but we have narrowed it down to our favourite 5. You may have a different list but visit any of these venues and you will be astounded.
Opened in June 2016 and literally translated from Hebrew as “Cool”, this secret cocktail club, hidden up the stairs above Hamsa restaurant in the Szeroka square in the heart of Kazimierz Jewish Quarter, lives up to its name. A stunning array of different rooms, with beautiful chandeliers and a dancefloor, the cocktails, produced by a team of hipsters, are amongst the best in town and offer a mix of the Near East meets West with plenty of Jewish influence. Open until midnight and 03:00 at weekends. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Opened in July 2016, “From Mouth to Mouth” is perhaps the most secretive cocktail bar in town, as its name would suggest. In what seems to have become a local tradition of ‘secret’ cocktail bars , Z Ust do Ust lives up to its name by taking the idea of the hidden entrance to new heights. Finding it is a fun adventure, even when you have the address. Walk past the queues for the Taawa nightclub in the Kazimierz Jewish Quarter, ignoring security as you do so, and head up the stairs to the Klub Bilardowy PIK pool hall. Here you will see a toilet door that say “out of order”. Some of the most imaginative cocktails in Krakow await those who choose to ignore the signs. Open until 03:00. Closed Monday & Tuesday.
This incredibly popular bar and restaurant in the Kazimierz Jewish Quarter offers three very different drinking environments in six rooms under one roof, each serving what can be confidently described as “the best cocktails in Krakow” (a much misused claim you’ll see made everywhere else in town). Celebrated local mixologist Dominik Ubysz is behind the creative menu – he was pipped to first place at the World Class Poland 2015 Finals by just 0.39 points (by Mateusz Szuchnik from El Koktel in Warsaw). Don’t be confused by the two differently named entrances as they are both for the same venue – “Le Scandale” leading directly into the Great Gatsby themed cocktail bar on Plac Nowy, opposite the famous Zapiekanki takeaway stalls, and the other next to it, down the passage to the “Garden Le Scandale”, a huge garden at the back (covered in winter) with its own cocktail bar and, in summer, a further small Tiki rum bar. It’s the perfect place to spend a relaxing afternoon or sample deliciously crafted balanced cocktails, like their own take on the Mai Tai. At weekends there’s live music and DJs making it very easy to get lost here for your entire trip to Krakow.
Mercy Brown affectionately calls itself a dive bar, but what you will find inside its hidden basement location is the furthest thing from shabby – or even ordinary for that matter. No, Mercy Brown has created an extraordinary buzz since gracefully arriving on Krakow’s cocktail scene, and as the city’s first speakeasy style venue, Mercy Brown has taken the scene here to new heights – or depths as it were. Mercy Brown is located underneath the Smakolyki restaurant, and you can only gain access if you find the secret entry – hint, look in the wardrobe. Once inside, you are transported to a vintage era of style and elegance, with chandeliers and frilly lampshades softly shining above and plush velveteen couches, golden drapes, and dim candlelight before you. Behind the bar, antique glasses, stirrers, and old-fashioned vaporisateurs (for adding fragrance to cocktails) await alongside a staff that concocts wonderful renditions of classics with assorted twists. Just a few examples of their handiwork include the Bubblekiwi – Polish vodka, ginger, kiwi, and sparkling wine – Tea Time – gin, jasmine tea cordial, and elderflower liqueur – and a Breakfast Fizz – gin, cardamom, apricot, sparkling wine, and lemon. Add into this mix jazz music and an occasional special event like a recent Burlesque Night, and you have a more-than-welcome addition to the Krakow nightlife scene.
The elegantly theatrical interior, decadent vibe and the beautiful and obviously moneyed clientele of Stalowe Magnolie (Steel Magnolias) make this eye-catching underground bazaar one of Krakow’s most cosmopolitan and best-looking nighttime hangouts. A group of no-nonsense bouncers protect the glammed-up crowd from loutish revelers at this downtown hotspot, located just two blocks from the main market square, so your party-wear might need some high-end spark (or a total upgrade) to gain entrance. Inside, the sophisticated design concept grand velvet bends, antique furniture and iron fittings all bathed in seductive shades of red and orange is matched in style by the vast assortment of refined liquors and libations. Live music concerts reverberate around the lush interior nearly every night of the week, with local and international bands performing in a wide range of styles from blues to jazz, soul to pop-rock.