10 Places to Drink in Brno

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It is an inspiring time to be an expat and sommelier in Brno. Prior to the Velvet Revolution in 1989, the city’s creative, global outlets were held captive and immobile under a Soviet-run, communist regime. Wineries and wine makers were under state control. Innovative ideas within the city’s restaurant world were suppressed. Yet today in Brno, things have changed. The city has drastically expanded in terms of population diversity, cultural and culinary growth. Today, thirty years after the end of communism, Brno is going through a restaurant, cocktail and hospitality revolution.

Hidden from the Brno English guidebooks is the vibrant, dynamic movement currently taking place. There is an expanding culinary scene and an increasing desire to modernize the city’s nightlife. The entrepreneurs here in this Moravian community are enthusiastic and eager to make Brno the newest food and wine destination. The once communist-run city is modernizing, and venues are receiving global praise for their unique style, inventive menus and fashionable, artistic appeal.  The sommeliers and wine buyers are introducing foreign wines and rare grape varietals never before seen on wine lists in Brno. Wine bars and restaurants are inviting winemakers from around the world to host tastings, as the demand is constantly growing for international events and services.

Although things may evolve, I feel there will always remain a sense of continuity in Brno, with certain venues that aspire to maintain their past heritage and cultural offerings. I am not opposed to maintaining tradition, I feel like these venues must remain present in today’s changing world. Yet I am intrigued by those involved in the global expansion of this tech-driven, student city. These entrepreneurs are revitalizing their marketing campaigns onsocial media and are taking menu risks once considered taboo.

It has been six months since we’ve been in Brno, and I’ve decided to compile a list of ten places that do their best to keep me hydrated and inspired. This list comprises only some of my favorite bars and restaurants in the city center, yet there are certainly many more that reflect the vibrant pulse of Brno. Each venue listed varies in terms of style, aesthetic appeal and individual identity. They are posted in alphabetical order, to avoid any favoritism. For me, each spot has its own unique atmosphere and character.

Maybe next time I’ll see you there!

 

Atelier Bistro was established to showcase gourmet cuisine in a colorful, relaxed atmosphere. Balancing a fine line between tradition and modernity, the chefs, bartenders and staff exude a confidence and teamwork in the execution of their larger restaurant vision.

Open for both lunch and dinner, the restaurant team works cohesively as one unit, pairing seasonal ingredients in both their food and beverage creations.

As someone who was raised on Long Island, where diner menus can often be 8 pages long, I firmly believe in the fine art of small, curated menus. They allow for freedom of artistic expression while maintaining a targeted, laser focus on the ingredients. The chefs take the liberty to adapt and revamp their offerings, to consistently entice and surprise their customers.

Atelier’s food and beverage menus are simple yet smart. According to the chefs and bartenders’ discretions, availability of ingredients, and of course the customer’s feedback, the team adjusts and alters their menu, modifying them every eight weeks.

Their Instagram page offers a colorful glimpse into their everyday creativity, upcoming events and parties. Their visionary freedom is enhanced by a global outlook in their cocktails, using small batch shrubs, homemade infused spirits and rare herbs often found outside of the Czech Republic.

Their cocktails stimulate the senses, combining the powerful effects of sweet and sour, tart and bitter.  Atelier’s wine list is selective, featuring intrepid Moravian wineries, amongst other famed European producers, that adhere to the shared belief of an evolving global identity.

The outside seating in the Atrium is private and relaxed, allowing guests to dine al fresco while sipping their drink of choice. Atelier is the place to have an imaginative cocktail with friends, sharing a contemplative moment surrounded by beautifully curated food and exquisite service. It is also one of the only places in Brno that can make a proper Manhattan, exactly the way nature intended.

Atelier Bistro Operating Hours:

Tuesday-Saturday: 11:00-23:00+
Kitchen Open: 11:00-15:00, 17:00-22:00

 

Previously featured in articles in The New York Times and highly regarded in the Brno nightlife scene, I had to pop this on my list of go-to cocktail and wine bars. Bar, Který Neexistuje translates literally to “The Bar that Doesn’t Exist.” This expansive, trendy cocktail bar offers an exciting, vibrant atmosphere, with a staggeringly, comprehensive drink menu. The bar is the brainchild of Jan Vlachynský and Andrej Vališ, two Czech natives whose journeys to New York City inspired a never before seen nightlife vision in Moravia. Their aim to reinvent the restaurant and bar scene in Brno has translated to creating a cocktail empire, with now a total of four themed cocktail bars scattered throughout the city center. Their other four ventures include Super Panda CircusWhiskey Bar Který NeexistujeSlast and 4 Pokoje. They are successful pioneers who push the boundaries, breaking free from the status quo.

Bar, Který Neexistuje is a behemoth by cocktail bar standards, with two floors of indoor seating, connected by a winding staircase and glass paneled elevator. The entire venue is outfitted with plush leather couches, massive bars on each floor, and over two dozen outside seats on their patio. The restaurant and bar operations are mind-boggling, as their spirits list is over two pages long and offers practically anything that is available in the global market.

The cocktail menu is colorful, fanciful and attractive, combining familiar flavors with foreign appeal. The welcoming, English speaking staff have obviously been well-trained in hospitality, as they are glad to offer recommendations and advice. It is a bustling and noisy bar, brimming with excitement and anticipation reflecting Brno’s progressive identity. They have perfected the art of organized chaos: no matter how loud and busy it may seem inside, the service and execution remain consistently way above par. It is also the only place I’ve found in Brno that serves sherry by the glass, an added bonus for any geeky somm like myself. 

Bar, Ktery Neexistuje Operating Hours:

Monday : 17:00 – 02:00 
Tuesday : 17:00 – 02:00 
Wednesday, Thursday : 17:00 – 03:00 
Friday : 17:00 – 04:00 
Saturday : 17:00 – 04:00 
Sunday : 17:00 – 02:00 

 

A warm greeting from Sergio Bellini, Executive Chef and owner of Castellana Trattoria, is all that is needed to change the course of your day. A gracious and hospitable host, he has created an atmosphere of serenity, surrounded by impeccable Italian food and spectacular wines.

Sergio Bellini, Executive Chef and Owner of Castellana Trattoria

Ten years ago, Sergio, who had previously worked as a salesman in the ceramic trade between Italy and the Czech Republic, decided to change his path in life and create this Italian ‘paradiso’ in the city streets of Brno. With a sole desire to pay homage to his home in Emilia Romagna, he showcases traditional Italian cuisine in a relaxed, airy environment.

Castellana Trattoria defines Italian gastronomy- A small, daily menu featuring seasonal produce, handmade pastas, fresh fish and high quality meats. Homemade, warm focaccia is quickly delivered to the table, followed by imported Italian olive oils and aged balsamic vinegars. Their extensive wine list comprises the popular Italian wine regions like Barolo and Brunello, with smaller, lesser known regions like Sardinia, Emilia Romagna, Abruzzo and Sicily.

The wine list was meticulously designed to pair with the food, featuring primarily Italian producers, yet also including Austrian, German and Moravian producers. Sergio is often featured on Česká televize as a guest chef on the morning show, as his friendly and gregarious personality certainly sets him apart. Castellana Trattoria is open for both lunch and dinner and is a true Italian gem in the city. Buon Appetito! 

Castellana Trattoria Operating Hours:

Monday- Friday: 11:00 – 23:00 
Saturday: 12:00 – 22:00 
Sunday:
  11:30 – 16:00

 

Located on Dominikánské Náměstí near city hall and adjacent to St. Michael’s Church, the doors of Don Pintxos open up to a Spanish oasis in the heart of Moravia.

Founded by Jindřich Zouhar, a Brno native and established Spanish wine importer, Don Pintxos promotes Spanish wine and culinary culture in Brno. His goal was to introduce hard to find wines in the heart of the city, alongside an exceptional tapas menu that pays homage to the famous tapas bars in Spain. In conjunction with his wine store and e-shop, Bono Vino, Jindřich is a specialist of Spanish wine, food and culture.

Offering a glimpse of Spain in Brno, their ‘by the glass’ wine list is comprehensive and well intentioned. Their wide-ranging wine inventory focuses on specific Spanish wine regions, such as Ribera del Duero, Penedès, Rioja and Rías Biaxas, as opposed to focusing solely on individual grape varietals.

The bar offers a wide range of reds, whites, sparkling and roses, with over 25 wines by the glass, and a well-trained and informed staff that are pleased to offer recommendations and samples. Their tapas menu includes Jamón ibérico, hand-crafted canapes and imported Spanish olives that all pair effortlessly with the wines.

The bar is on the small side, and reservations are key, yet a simple phone call ahead of time can easily secure a table inside.

Try a glass of their Albariño this summer-a refreshing, mineral driven white wine from Rías Biaxas. It won’t disappoint.

Don Pintxos Operating Hours:

Monday-Saturday 16:00 – 24:00

 

With three locations scattered throughout the city, justWINE is determined to pour their way into every wine glass in Brno. justWINE offers the ultimate wine and guest experience by offering wine degustations, classes, corporate events and private parties.

They are direct importers of wines that hail from the far reaches of Europe, featuring a wide range of natural and biodynamic winemakers. Their E-Shop is easy to navigate and offers everything in their current stock.

Their knowledgeable and friendly staff are enthusiastic and dynamic, bringing their personal style and artistic flair to all three locations. It is fun to follow their travels through social media, as it seems they are constantly inventing new ways to stay above the mark.

The bright, contrasting colors inside each location represent the energetic personalities of the staff and owners. They use innovation, music and art to unify their ideas and represent their diverse customer base.

In addition to the events in the shop, they partner with restaurants and businesses both in Brno and Prague to further unite the country, energizing and revitalizing the Czech wine industry. They also have plenty of outside seating with cozy red couches. You can’t miss it this summer.

justwine Operating Hours:

Zahradníkova

Monday – Friday 13:00-22:00

Saturday 16:00 – 22:00

Sunday 16:00-22:00

Dvořákova

Monday-Thursday 13:00 – 01:00

Friday 13:00 – 02:00

Saturday 16:00- 02:00

Sunday 16:00 – 24:00

Kotlářská

Monday – Thursday 11:00 – 24:00

Friday 11:00- 01:00

Saturday 16:00 – 01:00

Sunday 16:00 -24:00

 

As a self proclaimed Francophile, I was intrigued by Petit Cru during my initial visit to Brno in July 2017. I knew immediately upon entering that this was going to be a memorable visit and one that I would frequent regularly as an expat and French wine lover.

As I perused the bottles of Chateau d’Yquem, Gaja and Château Smith Haut Lafitte on the wine racks, I spoke with the owner, Janko Martinkovic.

A fellow Francophile and restaurateur, Janko explained that ten years ago after tasting his first oyster in France, he was inspired to start both the wine bar, Petit Cru, and his Japanese restaurant, Koishi. He felt drawn to pairing fresh seafood with French wines, and decided to start both businesses in Brno. After explaining to him that the first sip of Châteauneuf-du-Pape was my wine “A-Ha moment,” we laughed at our similar pasts, having both been drawn into French culture with just a flashing, culinary moment.

Petit Cru has an awe inspiring wine collection, as many of their wines feature world renowned producers that have earned critical acclaim and accolades.

Petit Cru offers an intimate, upscale wine tasting experience, with over a dozen wines by the glass and sommeliers to guide you through a tasting or flight. There is even a shaded, private garden in the back, with comfy bean bag chairs.

The interior design of Petit Cru is discreet and formidable, yet the knowledgeable and helpful staff make the experience truly unforgettable. Petit Cru offers weekly degustations with famous wine producers and wine experts, and for the past 10 years has been a bastion for wine education in the city.

Petit Cru Wine Bar Operating Hours:

Sunday and Monday: 15:00 – 23:00 
Tuesday – Saturday: 15:00 – 24:00

 

Sometimes, all you need is a cold beer and a game of pool. Billiards has always been our go-to for a stress-free night and Šilingrák has quickly become our local watering hole. We discovered this billiards bar after our first exploration of the city and frequent it at least once a week.

There is a jovial, down to earth atmosphere, and we felt immediately included in their pub community. Šilingrák offers a glimpse into the billiards clubs of the past, with attentive service and kind hospitality. They feature three beers on tap and dozens of rum, scotch and whiskey options.

Šilingrák offers bi-monthly billiards and dart competitions, with 8 8-foot billiards tables and 1 9-foot billiards table. Not to mention, they are open every day of the week, including holidays. Rack ‘em up!

Kulečníková herna Šilingrák Operating Hours:

Monday – Thursday 10:00 – 01:00

Friday 10:00 – 03:00

Saturday 13:00 – 03:00

Sunday 13:00 – 01:00

 

Víno-Klub Brno is located just outside of the city center, adjacent to Lužánky Park, famed as the oldest municipal park in the Czech Republic. Open Monday-Friday from the afternoon to the evening, Víno-Klub Brno offers a private, comfortable and relaxed atmosphere to unwind after the workday.

Featuring wines from their Prague based e-shop, headquarters and central warehouse, Víno-Klub Brno offers a wide range of internationally recognized producers, hailing from the far reaches of Uruguay to the coasts of Australia.

The wine bar offers two separate, private rooms, accommodating 25+ guests per room, with comfortable leather armchairs, dim lighting and soft background music.

A private boardroom style area is also available for meetings or small gatherings. Víno-Klub Brno encourages leisure, allowing guests to luxuriate in the plush, quiet surroundings. They also offer a wide variety of cheeses, olives and pâtés to further enhance the customer experience.

After my initial introduction to the owner of Víno-Klub Brno, Barbora Novotna Březovská, I knew that it would be the perfect venue to launch my English wine classes. I shared my ideas with Barbora and not only did she agree, but she has been encouraging and enthusiastic with her participation for each wine class. Víno-Klub Brno offers various wine tastings every month, featuring Moravian wine producers and foreign wine importers. Their space is ideal for small business meetings or a casual hangout with friends. Stop in, have a glass of wine and chat with Barbora and Jiří, you’ll never want to leave.

Víno-Klub Brno Operating Hours:

Monday – Friday 15:00 – 21:00

 

Stop, pause, turn off your phone, and take a step back in time at Vinárium Vinotéka. Previously featured as a favorite on my blog post about The Vinotéka, Vinárium remains one of my favorite, secret hang-outs in Brno.

Nestled on Starobrněnská street in the heart of the old city, Vinárium sells exclusively Moravian wine, both by the bottle and on tap. The furniture inside harkens back to decades past, with couches, armchairs and small wooden tables that reflect years of tradition.

The main entrance, found on the street, leads you through a labyrinth of doors, buzzers and hallways, eventually guiding you to the main entrance. Located underground, there is an intentional lack of Wi-Fi signal, a welcomed reprieve from the outpouring of technology on the streets above.

Walking past a punch time clock from the 1970’s and maps of old Czechoslovakia, you are swept into old time Moravia. Juxtaposed to the previous wine bars mentioned in this post, Vinárium pays homage to Moravian wine, featuring exclusive delicacies like homemade pickled Camembert cheese and pork pâté.

The wines hail from small, family-run vineyards, and the selective Moravian emphasis permits the consumer to taste wines from the region. Vinárium rejects the fast paced world above, offering a peaceful, private respite. It is a safe, secret abode to the noisy, tech-driven streets above.

Vinný sklípek Vinárium Operating Hours:

Monday – Friday 16:00 – 22:00

Saturday 17:00 – 22:00

 

New to the city center in Brno is Z-Bar, a Spanish wine and tapas bar, located just across the way from Vinárium on Starobrněnská Street.

Z-Bar has only been around a few months, but the decor inside offers a glimpse into Brno’s history. The bar is underground, situated in the original, stone built vinotéka. Z-Bar is owned by Zoltan Soproni, a Hungarian-born wine lover now living in Brno.

He offers over a dozen Spanish wines, both red and white, and tapas style plates of Spanish cheeses, jamón and olives. Zoltan is extremely hospitable and welcoming, easily making you feel at home. He always puts the customer first, offering tastes and samples of items, allowing for a relaxed guest experience. Z-Bar is truly an architectural landmark, with a massive stone cellar that runs the length of the entire building.

Zoltan is always eager to show customers the building’s history, offering a glimpse of old Brno. It most likely housed the city’s elite wine collections, as there are endless rows of empty, dusty wine cages and wooden wine racks. Stop in for a chat and quick tour of the underground cellar and stay for a delicious glass of Spanish wine and jamón, you won’t be disappointed.

Z-Bar Brno Operating Hours:

Monday – Thursday 16:00 – 23:00

Friday and Saturday 16:00 – 24:00

Sunday 16:00 – 22:00

Arielle DeSoucey