Friday, February 15, 2019

Vintage Vibes - My Two Favourite Bars in Vienna

Whisky

When I visited Vienna, I had the cafe culture on my mind and made some serious plans to visit as many cute, Instagram-worthy cafes as possible for coffee and traditional Viennese cakes. On at least two days while we were there, we ate cake two or three times... It had to be done. What I didn't expect was to find some of the best bars I've ever been to in Vienna. Nightlife and cocktail bars weren't on my radar at all, so I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon these two gems that to be honest, were quite possibly the highlight of my trip. If you asked me which one was my favourite, I don't think I could choose. They both have an old school feel to them, but they're very different in vibes. If you're planning to visit Vienna, these two bars need to be on your list of things to do while you're there.

Kleinod

Kleinod Bar Vienna

On my last night in Vienna we were a bit stuck for something to do. We had walked around the city so much during our time there that we were physically exhausted, most of the shops were closed that day and we were struggling to figure out what to do with our last evening. My husband hand mentioned time and again that he was keen to visit a rooftop bar for the view, so we ended up doing that. While the view was incredible, the atmosphere was dead and we were bored after the first drink, so I started looking around and I found Kleinod. It wasn't far from where we were, so we decided to give it a try and we ended up staying for several hours because it was incredible.

old fashioned cigarette machine

Kleinod is like something out of an old Humphrey Bogart movie with cigarette machines on the walls, stools at the bar where you can talk all evening with the bartenders and decor that channels a 1940's cocktail bar. The staff is friendly and keen to make recommendations, it's open late and the play list was fantastic while I was there. While the interior of the bar gives off a post-war vintage vibe, the music was a bit more modern featuring songs from the 60's, 70's & 80's though I would imagine that might change from day to day depending on who's working. The cocktails are delicious and the whisky selection is vast. Fair warning... This isn't a pub and not really the kind of place you'd go to drink pints of ale. The bartender treated us to a couple of shots - nothing too strong, but boy were they tasty. This was the kind of place where I had a fair few drinks, but I wasn't drunk when I left - they were lazy, slow drinks and even though I was tired, I found myself dragging my feet when it was time to leave. I was having way too much fun whiling away the hours, talking to locals and meeting new people. We even met a gentleman who'd just opened his own restaurant and he invited us to come for a free breakfast... If we hadn't had an early flight the next day, we would've taken him up on the offer. It was the kind of place where you could go every day, but I only spent a few hours there and felt like I knew everyone's name and had made some friends.

fully stocked whisky bar

If you like a cool cocktail bar, love a whisky, enjoy a bit of ambiance or fancy yourself an appreciator of vintage decor, the Kleinod should definitely be on your radar, but do be aware that smoking is allowed inside. Kleinod is located on Singerstrasse in the heart of Vienna. For more information visit kleinod.wien or click here to check out Kleinod on Instagram.

Loos American Bar
 Loos American Bar
"Clean lines and precious materials give the bar its face. The soul is the space that reaches far beyond the bar." 
- Adolf Loos 

Loos American Bar is in a league of its own and it's actually a coincidence that I wound up finding it. Just weeks before I went to Vienna, I attended a make-your-own class about gin which included a bit of a history lesson. One of the things that was talked about was the "American Bar" tradition across Europe and even further abroad which actually started after gin became popular in America. The Americans were drinking gin in a wide range of cocktails and often bars here in Europe would hire famous mixologists to make the trans-Atlantic journey to bring their signature drinks to new audiences. Hence the American Bar was born and now you can find them in big cities from London to Tokyo. After learning that, Loos American Bar caught my eye on Google Maps one day and I had to give it a try. I thought I'd just peek inside and have a look, but it was so cool that I ended up staying for a drink and returning the next day for a coffee. 

Cosmopolitan and whisky

Loos has a speakeasy feel to it inside... Small, wooden and dimly lit with booths all around the perimeter of the small room. The bartender on duty wears a rather old fashioned uniform complete with a white apron and the music is classic, mostly from the 1920's, 30's and 40's from what I could tell with a little bit of Johnny Cash thrown in from time to time. The bar itself is architecturally famous as is the mosaic outside, but even more noteworthy than that are the celebrity clientele which has included Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, Brad Pitt, John Malkovich, Quentin Tarantino and Jude Law to name a few. In 2012 Gucci used the famed watering hole as the location for its fashion campaign video - click here to watch it and see a bit more of the interior.

celebrities at Loos American Bar in Vienna newspaper article

The inside of Loos is small, so luckily they offer outdoor seating with giant shade umbrellas. Though Loos has a bit more of a backstory than Kleinod, I found it to be considerably less social. It's more of a place to sit for a quiet conversation amongst your own group kind of place. The bartender may very well be an American - ours was, though he was half Austrian - and the drinks are well worth a visit. Be sure to visit the bathroom while you're there for some cool reading as a lot of the press about the bar has been framed and hung downstairs. 

coffee at loos american bar vienna

I loved Loos so much and it was great for a midday coffee or drink. Kleinod was a bit more fun, but that couldn've been down to timing and the crowd. Loos felt a bit more historical and special, but also more accessible for daytime with its outdoor seating which is perfect for summer days when you don't want to be cooped up indoors. For more information, visit loosbar.at/die-bar.

Why not visit both?
If you're short on time and don't necessarily have two evenings free while visiting Vienna, I would still consider visiting both of these bars. Kleinod and Loos are within walking distance of each other, so you could try a drink at each in the evening. Alternatively you could visit Loos during the day, even just for a coffee and round out your evening at Kleinod... However you choose to do it, I couldn't with any certainty recommend one over the other - I loved them both!
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