It seems that no trip to the Czech Republic is complete without a round of cocktails at one of the many Brno cocktail bars. When in Prague, drink Czech beer. When in Mikulov, drink Czech wine. When in Brno, apparently, drink cocktails. Here’s our suggestion for three fun Brno bars.
Brno Nightlife Guide – Great Brno Bars
Our main goal while in the city was to visit some of the top Brno restaurants. What I didn’t know before arriving in the city is that cocktail bar hopping is one of the top things do in Brno. We are not ones to partake of much nightlife when traveling. Although I enjoy a properly made cocktail, we were not keen on exploring all the nightlife Brno offers. What we did, though, was check out a handful of cocktail bars the way, well, adults do. We are certainly adults.
We visited a couple of Brno pubs and checked out the local Czech beer scene. We visited one of our favorites Lokal as well as a few others. But our escort for the trip, Charlie, insisted we needed to experience true Czech nightlife, and that’s what we did. We sampled cocktails from three completely different Brno cocktail bars: The Bar That Doesn’t Exist, Super Panda Circus, and Runway Bar. According to research, these tend to be some of the best bars in Brno and would make a perfect evening out in this fun Czech city.
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The Bar That Doesn’t Exist Brno – The Classy Place to Drink
In this case, our friend Charlie, and everyone else we met kept talking about Bar který neexistuje, or the Bar That Doesn’t Exist Brno. I was expecting a speakeasy. Someplace dark and hard to find. Someplace exclusive. Their website even gives the impression of a dark, ancient, mobster style hangout. I should know. I am from New Jersey. When we walked up and saw the bright windows displaying row upon row of shiny liquor bottles, I immediately thought, this couldn’t be the place. This bar does, in fact, exist, on a street corner, in the center of town. From what I saw, speakeasy it wasn’t.
The Bar který neexistuje Experience
The Bar That Doesn’t Exist, though, was a classy cocktail joint. Pretty packed on a weekend night, we found a small cocktail table in the heart of the bar. I think Charlie may have called ahead to reserve the table. There was no way it would have magically appeared in the crowds otherwise. High ceilings, fancy VIP style tables along the wall, The Bar That Doesn’t Exist definitely gave off an air of a classy place for drinks, particularly in a country known for beer halls.
The cocktail list was a little more limited than I anticipated. Although they have a LONG list of available brands, There were a handful of signature cocktails offered, with menu flair. The server spent a minute asking what we liked. I sort of hoped that he would take that information and have the mixologist create something for me. Instead, he pointed out one of their signature cocktails, the Pablo Escobar, with gin, Aperol (my favorite), Campari, earl grey syrup, and grapefruit juice. It was tangy and refreshing after a huge meal at Simple in Brno. Eric enjoyed a classic gin and tonic.
Overall, I would recommend The Bar That Doesn’t Exist if you are craving a cocktail bar experience, as a break from the Czech beer halls. Go early, or reserve a table.
Super Panda Circus Bar Brno – The Hipster Bar
Again, as we told people in the Czech Republic that we were testing out Brno cocktail bars, another name kept coming up. Super Panda Circus Bar Brno. Much like The Bar That Doesn’t Exist, the name alone made me want to seek it out. Apparently owned by the same company as the Bar That Doesn’t Exist, Super Panda Circus gives off more of a speakeasy vibe, as it is, in fact, hard to find, with no sign outside.
We rang a bell to get inside and were met by a host who took our coats and our names. Once inside, it was kitsch to the extreme. Every inch of the bar walls was covered in some sort of artwork. He gave us a shot of something to cleanse our palettes to prepare us for our cocktails. I think it was merely a type of green tea, but Eric gave me the look of “what kind of roofie did we just ingest?” I felt like Alice in Wonderland, wondering whether this drink would make me bigger or smaller.
We made our way upstairs and secured three seats in the corner of the bar. Eric was getting a bit tired after a long day, and when we tried to cram him into the corner, he protested a bit. “Nobody puts Eric in the corner.” The bar itself is set up like a theater. The bar on one end, and almost stadium-style seating on the opposite, so that you can watch the mixologist action. Charlie, our single friend, commented that it would be a great place to bring a first date because you would never be stuck finding something to talk about. There is so much action in the room that conversation would flow easily.
The Super Panda Circus Experience
The host placed the drink Super Panda Circus menus in front of us. Yes, two full drink menus. Each of them were artfully decorated scrolls that offered a series of signature cocktails. Again, the number of cocktails on offer was limited, despite the artful, hipster presentation.
Having visited the Zufanek gin distillery earlier that day, I was eager to see what a proper mixologist would pair with their gin. For a proper gin and tonic, it’s important to pick the right tonic and the right aromatics. The bartender protested, basically saying he wouldn’t make a gin and tonic with Zufanek, almost hinting that he wouldn’t drink it, or that it wasn’t worth his time to make it. This put me off. He was judging my drink of choice. I continued with my order, and he begrudgingly made me my Zufanek gin and tonic. He also made a gin and tonic for Eric. Although they were in the proper glasses, they were each garnished with a lemon wedge. Not the kind of experience we expect from a cocktail bar when it comes to a proper gin and tonic.
Now, with drinks in hand, we started to pay more attention to the atmosphere around us. I can see how the bartender was offended by having to make something so simple for us. There were drinks served in glass slippers, or in glass horses with Barbie dolls riding them. Their little ankles were tied with rubber bands to keep them on their saddle.
Charlie’s rum cocktail came on a lit up platform and glowed. He also received a tube of coconut cream to rub on his hands so that he could smell the coconut as he drank the rum drink. Hipster indeed. Having left the US about 4 years ago, we have missed a lot of the hipster dining and drinking trends that I read about on a regular basis in Eater or Thrillist. But, as I realized how I “offended” our bartender with my gin and tonic request, I realized we needed to play the game a bit more.
Enter: Super Panda Circus. I saw some drinks emerge in painted panda ceramic mugs. Of course, we ordered a round. The glasses were fun, the drinks a little too sweet for my taste (this is why I love my gin and tonics). The mint garnish was topped with something like powdered sugar. Similar to wondering if we were roofied downstairs, Eric wondered whether we ordered some sort of cocaine delivery mechanism. But, alas, it was just powdered sugar.
At the end of a long day, and a long meal, I felt as though we had to drag Eric to another of Brno’s cocktail bars. I wondered how long he would last, particularly after the brush off from the gin and tonic debacle. In the end, it was three rounds of drinks. He perked up and started to appreciate the hipster kitsch, and to play along with the cocktail theater. I will say that the kitsch factor at Super Panda Circus certainly entertained even a worn down Eric. For that, I will say they worked a miracle.
Runway Cocktail Bar Brno
Now, I am cheating a little bit here. Runway Bar is located on the first level of Pavillon, where we had our mega 7+ tasting menu courtesy of Chef Jan. Pavillon is set inside a historic building and a prime example of the Czech functionalist architecture.
Now, I am cheating a little bit here. Runway Bar is located on the first level of Pavillon, where we had our mega 7+ tasting menu courtesy of Chef Jan. Pavillon is set inside a historic building and a prime example of the Czech functionalist architecture.Our agenda included cocktails at Runway after dinner. Eric was excited because, as you can guess, Runway is an aviation-themed bar. The decor is made to resemble old aircraft. We saw a glimpse into the bar as we arrived for dinner, but the Runway Bar was booked for a private party that night.
Instead, we received a taste of Runway at our table at Pavillon. What I liked about Runway, more than our prior excursions into the Brno nightlife scene, was that the mixologist spent some time with us. This is despite the fact that there was a romping party downstairs. He asked what we liked, walked us through what he could offer, and matched our cocktails to what he thought we would like. And, he was right.
This, to me, demonstrates the sophistication of the cocktail scene at Runway Bar. Eric finally received a properly made gin and tonic. He made me a gin cocktail that was a little bitter, and not too sweet, just like me. Afterward, I checked out the cocktail menu and did not see what I drank that night. That made me feel special, like the bartender made something for me, based on what I liked. I would love to return to the Runway Bar and get the full experience. Because, from what I saw, I think it is just my type of cocktail bar. Or, check out 7 Hříchů Gin Bar Brno if you love gin as much as we do.
Recommendations for Brno Cocktail Bars
Bar Ktery Neexistuje, or The Bar That Doesn’t Exist: (Dvořákova 1) I was expecting something hard to find, but instead, the supposed Bar That Doesn’t Exist is on a corner of prime real estate, with large open windows, making it clear that it does, in fact, exist.
Super Panda Circus: Giving the impression of a speakeasy is not easy, so Super Panda Circus supposedly has no address. Google Maps lists it as Šilingrovo nám. 3, around the corner from the Barcelo Hotel. Start at the hotel, facing with your back to the hotel. Walk straight and to the left, down Husova Street. A few doors down on the right, look for dark green curtains and you find Super Panda Circus. Ring the doorbell to get in. We asked the doorman at the hotel where to find Super Panda Circus. I’m sure he gets questions like this all the time, so maybe offer him a little tip for his help!
Runway Bar: (Jezuitská 687/6) At the edge of a large park, a little east of the center of Brno, Runaway Bar at Pavillon is walking distance from the city center. Look for the big white building, with big windows, and head down the stairs.
The Brno cocktail bars offer a great deal in comparison to their counterparts in the US, and the rest of Europe. Cocktails range from $5-7 US, which is a steal!
Looking For Unique Food, Beer and Wine Tours in the Czech Republic?Looking for a unique way to learn about traditional Czech food in Prague, or farther afield in the rest of the country? What about an interesting beer tour, or even a Czech wine tour? Here are our recommendations for Czech food tours to learn more about Czech cuisine and traditions. [table id=7 /]
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Brno Travel Guide – FAQs
Brno is in Moravia, one of the provinces of the Czech Republic. It takes about two hours to drive from Prague to Brno, but the Prague to Brno train or bus will take about three hours. And, it might be possible to “do” Brno on a day trip from Prague, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It takes some time to get there, and to enjoy all of the amazing restaurants and cocktail bars, stay the night!
While in Brno, we stayed at the fabulously restored art deco Grandezza Hotel. Easily my favorite of our hotels in the Czech Republic. We had an enormous corner room, with a balcony providing a view over the square. It was exquisite!
he city is most known for its Brno nightlife. But check out some of the best places to eat in Brno.
We were supported by Visit Czech Republic and JayWay Travel, who offers customized tours of the Czech Republic and all of Central and Eastern Europe. Of course, all opinions, and yummy sounds are my own.
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Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.