Hotsy Totsy – Everything’s hotsy-totsy in Budapest
You already know my romantic relationship with bars. For me, visits to bars are like little love stories. Some bars you just walk in and fall in love, while others are just a one-time experience. When it came to Hotsy Totsy, I visited with the intention of just getting a couple of drinks, but it ended up turning into two visits. Here’s another adventure about my stay in Budapest and my special recommendations.
Owners certainly put some thought into naming their bars. When it came to Hotsy Totsy, I had to resort to the internet. The most likely story is that of an Irish American gangster and bootlegger in Philadelphia and New York City during the Prohibition era Jack “Legs” Diamond, who was the first to call attractive women “hotsy-totsy” and gave his nightclub the same name. Since then, many cocktail bars have taken up the term, including this one in Budapest. So, nowadays “hotsy totsy” means from very attractive to everything is alright. And so is this bar – very attractive and all good from the interior, drinks, ice to service.
This bar has been one of the stars of Budapest’s bar world for more than five years, making full use of all the right ingredients for your pleasure. A successful mix of speakeasy atmosphere, pleasant music, and an extremely friendly bar team.
Hotsy Totsy is easy to find in the middle of Budapest’s party district. It is located slightly underground and as soon as you descend the steps you find yourself in a vaulted cellar surrounded by exposed bricks. The arches and the warm colour of the sandstone convey cosiness and let you escape into another world. The concept is inspired by 1920s New York, with lots of copper and mirrored surfaces and pleasantly dimmed lighting. There are velvet benches on one side, more small comfy seating areas in the corners and some seating at the bar counter. The bar itself is always lively, and I was lucky to get a seat there early on my first visit. I absolutely recommend a reservation.
The selection of spirits is large and very well chosen. Besides the usual premium spirits, you will find Armagnac, Birch eau de vieux, Sotol, Polugar and also a collection of new alcohol categories like the botanical rums of Spirited Union. Drinks are based on good quality spirits in combination with homemade ingredients. Hotsy Totsy delivers delicious drinks. It takes its cocktails seriously, which you can see immediately when you watch the bartenders doing their magic.
Hotsy Totsy offers great drinks that make it worthwhile coming here. Drinks are prepared professionally manner by a talented bar team.
The menu comes as a simple and reusable single-sided menu card with front and back. Easy to use for guests and bartenders alike. Before that, there was a very elaborately designed menu that picked up on the 1920s speakeasy style and the crime inspiration of the bar’s name. It was designed as a police file and the individual drinks were named after unsolved criminal cases. Sadly, this menu has fallen victim to COVID and increased operating costs. But rest assured, savings have only been made in this area, the quality of the drinks has not changed and some of them can still be found on the new menu. By the way, I got one of the old menus as a gift, hence the photos here.
Let’s take a closer look at the Barstalker’s crime scene. My first drink of choice was Missing Nyan Cat, an unsolved case from the former menu where a victim was found near the Mexican border, ripped apart by a tiger. The story leads to a mixture of Mezcal, Unicum Barista, Pineapple Tepache and Lime Juice Cordial served in a cute cat cup. A well-balanced drink that leans towards the fruity and fun side underlined by spicy smokiness.
Drinks are very well-balanced and garnished with great hospitality and impeccable service.
For the next drink, I continued with the mezcal and trusted the bartender’s recommendation. The team is very attentive, listens to their guests and tailors drinks according to the guests’ tastes. I had such a good Mezcal Penicillin that I look forward to having another one in the future. The menu is not particularly extensive, but as with most good cocktail bars, you can always order a classic or have a custom drink made up from the menu. The bartenders prepare bespoke drinks based on your taste preferences. After the mezcal came another tasty cocktail creation based on Sotol. Besides the taste preferences, my Negroni was tailored to my Asian-inspired outfit that night. Sounds like I had a great and funny stay, right?!
I have a soft spot for short drinks but, to get through a cosy bar evening, I also need something low abv such as an Adonis. The American Yakuza caught my attention on the menu with its listed ingredients Nigori Sake, Matcha, peach, soy milk and lime cordial; it was also an unsolved case from the police file menu. Despite its name, there’s no fighting as the cocktail is floral and sweet yet well-balanced with a nice mouthfeel. The small clay vessel feels smooth in the hand and the drink develops with every sip. Surprisingly good and a clear recommendation.
Stay curious. There will be more from Budapest coming up next spring about bars, booze and beverages. Furthermore, Hotsy Totsy is planning to expand the bar and the concept. So, you can be curious here too. There are also a lot of coffee places and dining concepts to discover in Budapest at the moment.
Hotsy Totsy on Instagram