Boutiq’Bar Budapest – Hungarian Cocktail History since 2008
My hobby is not only drinking, travelling and exploring local drinking places. It also connects me to the world of hospitality. I have met so many interesting and inspiring people on the way. One of them is Zoltán Nagy, the mover and shaker of the Hungarian bar scene. His bar in Hungary’s capital had been on my bartinary for a very long time and now I’ve finally made it. Join me for a sip to Boutiq’Bar – a drinking destination hiding behind an unobtrusive blue door on a city-centre side street.
Let’s start with a few words about the brain behind the bar. Zoltán Nagy’s CV is extensive and the list of his places of work, achievements and awards seems endless. He learned gastronomy starting at the bottom and now has been working and significantly shaping the hospitality industry for over twenty years both in and outside Hungary. From Budapest to London, Madrid, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Vienna, Kyiv, the US and Mexico to name just a few destinations. So it is not surprising that he speaks five languages perfectly and has basic competence in three others.
Boutiq’ Bar is one of the pioneers of Budapest’s craft-cocktail movement and globally recognised.
Nagy enriches the bar world with his expertise, but also with his humour. I would describe Zoltán Nagy as a person who takes his job very seriously but himself not so much. He shares his knowledge, remains curious and never stops learning at the same time. A distinctive feature of this energetic man are his colourful socks.
As soon as you enter the blue door of Boutiq’Bar,
you will find yourself in a small, intimate bar whose atmosphere is underlined by the dark red interior, beautiful mirrors, a vaulted ceiling and dimmed lights. The background music ranges from old to contemporary. The long solid-wood bar counter offers space for up to ten guests and provides a good view of the lavishly stocked back bar. You will find a good selection of spirits for all tastes. Boutiq’Bar was the first place in Budapest that brought cocktail culture and crafted cocktails to the city’s drinking habits.
Presentation is key. Cocktails are not mixed, they are crafted.
The menu is lovingly curated and designed. You will find around thirteen signature drinks on the menu each presented in its own unique vessel. Furthermore, five low abv drinks are listed and you can ask the bartender for any classic. There is a drink to please every taste and mood. And there is a small bag of salty popcorn as an aside. The drinks are made by skilled bartenders based on a large range of ingredients and using modern cocktail techniques.
The drinks are well-balanced and served in individual vessels. Not too overboard just enough to treat the eyes and highlight the content.
I started with a spicy Mezcal-based Margarita served in a nice mug with hot sauce and tortilla chips. That was a good starter. I’m a big cognac lover, so there was no way around the Hipster Milk Punch. The mix of cognac and almond milk with lemon sorbet and spices surprised me with its pleasant texture and was very well balanced. F*** Me Up, the omnipresent Espresso Martini, and, by the way, today’s most popular cocktail, comes at Boutiq’Bar with rum. I asked the bartender to replace the Havana with a good portion of Jamaica Rum to give the drink more depth. A good choice. My drinking highlight was the Budapest Negroni made with Unicum, the iconic Hungarian herbal liqueur. In this case, they used the barrel-aged Riserva edition. Do not miss the Budapest Barbeque and the opportunity to roast your marshmallow at the bar. Of course, a water service is available as soon as you take your seat at the bar – a small detail that you will find in any good cocktail bar.
The bar team dresses in colourful shirts, bow ties and aprons. This bar offers great drinks and knowledgeable, trained and, above all, attentive staff that turns this adventure into a better one. You notice the high level of professionalism, seriousness and hospitality behind the concept. I felt comfortable and in good hands.
One to close: Go for the hospitality and the delicious drinks not because of the awards.