A Drinking Tour of Europe: 13 Must-Try Cocktails
Europe is known for the food, the fashion, the art, and the culture. Dozens of city guides cater to these verticals, and they are incredibly alluring invitations to grab our passports and enter the EU. But we’d like to focus on a different vertical: the cocktails. There are few things more luxurious than sipping a Kir Royale from Le Meurice in Paris or toasting your friends with an Aperol Spritz at Villa d’Este on Lake Como. Then there are the experimental cocktails, like Tony Conigliaro’s Prairie Oyster drink that you get to sip out of a shell, or the flaming cocktail known as The Walking Dead at one of Amsterdam’s classic bars. Scroll through for our favorite must-try cocktails throughout Europe.
Location: 69 Colebrook Row, London
The New York Times refers to London-based mixologist Tony Conigliaro as “The Bartender With a Lab Coat” and, perhaps more notably, “one of the world’s most notable mixologists.” Conigliaro created this Prairie Oyster drink for his bar, “the no-name bar,” also known as 69 Colebrooke Row. The mysterious cocktail appears to have an egg yolk floating on top of its white oyster shell container. After tasting its parade of unique flavors—horseradish vodka, a dash of pepper sauce, a sprinkling of shallots, and a burst of gelatinous cherry tomato—one woman exclaimed, “That is the most amazing thing ever.”
Conigliaro was obviously pleased by this reaction. “I just love to see people’s reactions when they experience it for the first time. This is all about making beautiful things from pure ingredients, but mostly about creating pleasure.” Make sure to visit Conigliaro’s other project in London, the bar at The Zetter Townhouse (featured below), for more incredible cocktails made in his signature groundbreaking approach.
Location: Hotel Cipriani, Venice
Harry Cipriani invented this Prosecco-based white-peach cocktail at his bar in Venice in 1948. He named it after a Venetian artist who painted a picture of a saint with a pink shirt. Sipping this blush-hued sparkling cocktail by the enormous saltwater pool at Hotel Cipriani is an experience you will remember for the rest of your life.
Location: Le Meurice, Paris
With cognac-colored leather chairs, glowing sconces, and frescoed walls, the bar at Le Meurice is old-school, masculine glam. A Paris Fashion Week favorite, Le Meurice is known for its incredible Kir Royale. The signature French Champagne treat feels like the perfect feminine complement to the masculine bar.
Location: Villa d’Este, Lake Como
Located a stone’s throw away from George and Amal Clooney’s Lake Como estate, the Villa d’Este is perched on the edge of the Italian lake. Its pool deck actually sits on top of the water, making for a beyond-soothing experience. After a paddleboard tour of Lake Como, relax on the terrace with an Aperol Spritz. There is a reason this is Poppy Delevingne’s favorite hotel.
Location: Hiding in Plain Sight, Amsterdam
Time Out refers to Hiding in Plain Sight’s “The Walking Dead” as a “fearsome cocktail [that] offers a taste of liquid danger in the oldest part of Amsterdam.” The secret recipe is served flaming hot (literally) in a skull glass and features three different rums, including Bacardi 151. The bar-imposed limit is one per night.
Location: Tatel, Madrid
If you find yourself in this Spanish metropolis, we encourage a trip to Tatel—the trendy restaurant co-owned by Rafael Nadal, Enrique Iglesias, and Pau Gasol. To quote Fodor’s Travel Guide, “The cocktail bar at Tatel may be a place where the elite rub shoulders over expertly made cocktails, but it doesn’t feel stuffy or exclusive.” We recommend ordering Luciano’s Port Flip. “Shaken vigorously with date syrup, spiced rum, and a whole egg, it’s an unctuous concoction that can double as dessert.”
Location: Dry Martini, Barcelona
Dry Martini bar in Barcelona is as classic as it gets. Owner Javier de las Muelas is an industry icon. He presides over the genteel, English-style boîte in the Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona wearing a crisp white bar jacket and mixes ice-cold Bombay Sapphire gin with a couple dashes of dry vermouth and a green olive for the perfect dry martini.
Location: Hemingway Bar, Prague
According to The Wall Street Journal, Prague is recognized as the birthplace of the global absinthe revival of the 1990s. While absinthe from the Czech Republic used to be considered lower quality than the rest of Europe, recently the Green Fairy has started to be taken more seriously. Artisanal versions of the green or clear liquor are popping up all over Prague, and one of our favorite places to enjoy said cocktails is at Hemingway Bar.
Location: Four Seasons Hotel Graham Palace, Budapest
The Szatmari Szilva, aka The SzaSzi (pronounced sa-si), is a typical Hungarian plum used for making the signature Hungarian cocktail—palinka. Made with local ingredients like Unicum Szilva (a Hungarian spirit), this classic cocktail is a must-order at the Four Seasons Hotel Budapest at Gresham Palace.
Location: Claridge’s, London
When in London, visit Claridge’s, one of the oldest and most glamorous hotels in the city. Suites here can go for upward of $13,000 per night, but you can get a much more affordable taste of luxury at the bar. Order the Mecanudo Fumoir, which is basically a Bloody Mary on steroids. Don’t be fooled by its elegant presentation. This cocktail is sure to give you that warm and cozy feeling after only a few sips.
Location: Negroni Florence Bar, Florence
The Negroni was allegedly invented in Florence, so we think it’s only appropriate to send the city’s visitors to Negroni Florence Bar in Oltrarno. This contemporary watering hole often hosts art and photography shows followed by late-night DJ sets. Its nightly aperitivo (Italian for cocktail) hour includes a generous complimentary spread of local snacks, as well. This gin-vermouth-Campari cocktail will help you relax right away, and when you begin your night with a Negroni, there’s no telling where it will take you.