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Josef Cocktail Bar, Sterngasse 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria

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Jean Van Luelik

Josef Cocktail Bar, Sterngasse 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria
May 24
07:37 2017

(Drinking Trends) On a recent short stay in Vienna, I found myself with an evening to kill. Having never been to the Austrian capital before, I put a call out to my friends on social media for bar recommendations. Being blessed with a great bunch of well-travelled and better-watered pals, this is my default tactic when scoping drinking dens in a new town. And after a post-prandial Fernet or two, it led me quite indirectly to the door of Josef Cocktail Bar.

Josef is not easy to find. I found myself stumbling around a dark alley glued to my Googlemaps, trying to discern doorways from one another. In other words, prime tourist mugging fodder. Here’s a hint; it’s at the top of the steps on Sterngasse. Here’s another hint. Make Josef the top of your go-to list for drinking in Vienna.

vienna

Vienna is a city with many layers of history, drinking culture, and tradition. Sometimes these cultural inheritances can weigh slightly heavily. The team at Josef have pulled off quite a neat trick; they have embraced these traditions, incorporatingrating the most forward-facing attitudes to drinks service to produce an exemplary fine drinking bar in the heart of old Vienna. Combining aspects of Baroque design with 80’s nightclub touches here and there, all offset by the elegant furnishing and the most elegant array of bar equipment on full display, this is a destination bar for the cocktail enthusiast.

Opened a few short months ago by Andrea Hörzer and Philipp M. Ernst, both very successful cocktail bartenders, having represented Austria at international competition level, Josef boasts a menu (in English) that showcases the most modern of cocktail techniques alongside a range of very considered classics.

I was welcomed warmly on entering the discrete door and ushered to the bar, with automatic bonus points for the immediate glass of water and bar snacks. To start I ordered a Martinez. For me this classic is a great litmus test of a bartender’s skill, Philipp proceeded to produce a cocktail that was both rich and moreish all with impeccable presentation. Next, after a brief chat, Phillip recommended a drink that had won Andrea, his partner the Olmeca Altos cocktail comp; Kronprinz Von Arandas. The flavours of apple, honey, citrus and ginger were counterbalanced by a light Lillet foam. Delicious, if a touch intense.

vienna

The fingerprint of Diageo is all over the back-bar (Philipp having won World Class Austria, which means that the selection of high-end whiskies and gins is formidable.

Oh, and did I mention the cigars? I learned over the course of the night that Austria has a smoking ban exemption for venues under a certain size, and Josef, being an intimate venue has taken full advantage, producing an impressive cigar list. If the thought of cigar smoke is off-putting, no need to fear being swamped in second-hand smoke, as the ventilation here is state of the art.

All-in-all Josef is an elegant, complex and indulgent destination. Much like the very best of old-town Vienna itself.

Cocktails come in around €14.50

Josef opens Tuesday – Saturday from 18:00 – 03:00

Booking Recommended

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Images: Josef / Jean Van Luelik

 

Josef Cocktail Bar, Sterngasse 1, 1010 Vienna, Austria - overview
4out of 5
Menu
4out of 5
Drinks
4.5out of 5
Service
4out of 5
Atmosphere
3.5out of 5
Value
4 Excellent
4 out of 5
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Industry Expert

Charlie McCarthy

Charlie McCarthy

A seasoned veteran of the international drinks scene, our Managing Editor, has spent the last decade opening new venues across the globe, consulting for key drinks industry groups, running A-list parties, and advising major spirit and beverage brands. Through his work with All About The Cocktail, Charlie has become a respected figure in on-line, televised and print media for the global drinks industry. If it involves making drinks, chatting about drinks, thinking about drinks, writing about drinking, or drinking drinks, Charlie has been 'biting that bullet' since 2000.

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