A Guide to Drinking in Vienna

12th October, 2015 | Article By Alannah McEwan

1. Go enjoy a coffee at one of Vienna’s many coffee houses

I am a bit of a coffee addict, and when I arrived in Vienna I quickly learned that one cannot simply order a coffee as you would in Canada. At home it’s completely normal to simply order ‘a coffee’ but in Vienna you must be more precise. Melange? Kleiner Brauner? Großer Brauner? Café latte? Verlängerter? Einspänner? And the list goes on. Some cafes will have a short description on their menu, below each type of coffee, but some will not. If you go to Aida Cafe, their menu lists all the coffees they serve with pictures to represent the size of cup you will be getting and a breakdown of what will go into the cup to make the coffee. The coffees will vary in strength (espresso to milk ratio), normal milk or frothed milk or steamed milk and so on. If you are a little overwhelmed by all the options, I would recommend sticking with a cappuccino.

There are many nice places to enjoy a coffee in Vienna, so I would pick a cafe based on atmosphere, location, price, and other offerings. As I mentioned in my previous post, Aida Cafe and Cafe Central are two of my favorites. Aida has lots of locations but the one at Stephansplatz is great for people watching. The closest underground stop is Stephansplatz which can be reached by the U1 or U3 line. The closest stop to Cafe Central is Herrengasse which can be reached by the U3 line.

2. All that sightseeing making you thirsty? Find yourself a place to sit down and enjoy a Radler

When I first went to Austria, 4 years ago, I had never heard of Radler before. It is oh so yummy and refreshing. It consists of a 50:50 mixture of beer and sparkling lemonade. It has a low alcohol content, around 2% and comes in different flavors. If you order it and don’t specify you will be given the original and most common flavor lemon. Most (if not all) of the major Austrian beer companies have a line of Radler drinks such as Ottakringer, Stiegl, and Zipfer. Lemon is my favorite flavor but I also enjoy grapefruit.

A great place that I would recommend enjoying this drink is at Palmenhaus which is located close to Burggarten. Palmenhaus is a restaurant and cafe that has a great central location next to a park. When the weather is nice they have a large outside sitting area. There is also a large sitting area on the inside, which is decorated with a lot of tropical and exotic plants giving it a jungle feel. The building itself is beautiful and is made of steel and glass. The closest underground stop is Volkstheater which can be reached with the U3 or U2 line.

3. Feel like a cocktail? Enjoy a Hugo

One of my favorite cocktails that I enjoyed in Vienna is called Hugo. Along with Aperol Spritz, it’s one of the most commonly found cocktails and a favorite among locals. It is made with prosecco (sparkling wine), elderflower syrup, sparkling water, lime, and mint and is usually served in a wine glass. There are many bars to find this drink but I would recommend checking out Freiraum which is located on the main shopping street in Vienna, Mariahilfer Straße. It’s a cool place to chill in the evening, a bit more fancy, the atmosphere is really nice and you can find people of all ages there. The closest underground stop is Zieglergasse and can be reached on the U3.

4. In Vienna during the Fall? Take advantage of Sturm time and try a glass

Unlike the previous drinks I’ve mentioned, this drink only comes around once a year for a couple of weeks. Sturm is the German word for storm and is a young wine which you can find all over Vienna from the end of September until mid-October. During this time, you can buy a bottle at almost any grocery store, white or red. You can also buy it by the glass at many cafes and bars, or at the market. If you buy a bottle you have to be careful to keep it placed upwards, as the top is not screwed on completely but left slightly open to help with the fermentation process. This wine is, sadly, not something you can stock up on and store for later as it needs to be consumed within a couple days of buying it. I have to warn you it’s quite dangerous. It’s delicious and sweet and the alcohol taste is very minimal. It tastes more like a carbonated grape drink than a traditional wine, so even if you’re not a big wine fan you might love Sturm. If you are planning a trip to Vienna during this time of year then you are in for a real treat!

I would recommend visiting the Naschmarkt, Vienna’s largest and best know market to pick up a cup – or bottle. The closest underground store to the market is Karlsplatz and can be reached on the U1, U2, or U4. Even if you are going to miss Sturm time, I would still recommend a visit to the market.

5. A Viennese Christmas experience would not be complete without Punsch/Gluhwein

These two drinks I put together because they are both warm alcoholic drinks that come out around Christmas time. Punsch is made of a combination of tea, spices, sugar and rum. You can get different flavors such as orange or forest berries. If you want a non alcoholic beverage you can try Kinderpunsch, which is German for Children’s Punch. Glühwein is a hot red wine with spices such as orange and cinnamon.

Vienna was the first place that I tried both of these drinks and both times at the Christmas markets. I think these are a great way to warm up in the chilly winter and I looked forward to them every year. If you enjoy them, you can buy a couple of bottles of Gluhwein or Punsch concentrate from a grocery store and bring them home to enjoy and share with your friends and family.

If you are planning to be in Vienna in December, head over to one of the many Christmas markets in Vienna and grab yourself a cup. In one of my pictures you will see me enjoying a cup of Punsch at the Rathaus Christmas Market. When you buy a cup, you pay a deposit which will be returned to you when you return the cup, otherwise you can keep the cup as a nice souvenir.

By Alannah McEwan

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