Perhaps even more than the wine cellar, the beer hall is the symbol and substance of the Slovak nation. By any name - besides piváreň, pubs are known in Slovak informally as krčma (tavern), šenk (roadhouse), pajzel (any dirty smoke-filled room where beer is consumed by the gallon) and výčap (the lowest sort of dive) - the beer hall rounds out the Slovak experience.
Listed below is a selection of The Slovak Spectator's favourite pubs and beer halls in Bratislava. Na zdravie!
Montana's Grizzly Bar
Opened last year, Montana's offers a large wooden terrace with summer lighting providing bar patrons a downtown alternative to the standard smoke-filled piváreň. Food service runs now from 11:00 till 23:00 consisting mainly of American-type sandwiches (BLT, cheesburger etc.) served with real french fries. Late comers can get a bowl of chili or soup until closing time, and anyone can enjoy a slice of American apple pie made by owner Ky Didier. Gentle wood decor, cool tunes and a wide variety of Czech and Slovak beer make this bar one of the capital's best.
Michalská 19. Tel: 5443 4998. Open Mon-Thu 11:00 to 1:00, Fri-Sat 11:00 to 2:00, Sun 11:00 to 24:00.
The Dubliner Irish Pub
The most popular pub in Slovakia among the expat community, the Dubliner Irish Pub has a great Old Town location, genuine Guiness on tap for 80 crowns, and a kitchen with some of the best food in the city. Anyone looking for an English-language conversation can certainly find it here. Occasional live music concerts on the weekends are also a big draw.
Sedlárska 6. Tel: 5441 0706. Open Mon-Fri 9:00-1:00, weekends 12:00- 1:00.
Just opposite Slovenské Národné Divadlo (the Slovak National Theatre), Kelt is gaining increasing popularity. Rustic interior, wrought iron and an open fireplace give a homely feel. On weekends the pub is usually packed with a mixed crowd who come for the karaoke contests.
Hviezdoslavovo námestie 1. Tel: 5441 1589. Open Mon-Fri 11:00 - 1:00, weekends 12:00-1:00.
Located next to Mladosť Cinema on Hviezdoslavovo námestie, 17's offers live jazz or blues concerts at least once a week. Sturdy wooden benches and tables create the classic bar interior. The clientele consists mainly of 20-somethings and occasionally includes art scene trendies like directors and actors.
Hviezdoslavovo námestie 17. Tel: 5443 5135. Open Mon-Thu 11:30-2:00, Fri 11:30-3:00, Sat 14:00-3:00, Sun 14:00-24:00.
Black Rose and Zimná Záhrada Arthura Klopfsteina
The entrance to this hangout is in an alley off Michalská ulica. On entering the building, head right down the stairs to Black Rose, decked out in a red wooden motif. Tea drinkers and liqueur sippers frequenting this trendy bar have another reason to be excited - the Black Rose recently added traditional Slovak dishes to the menu. Beer-drinkers should turn left once entering the building to find the Zimná záhrada Arthura Klopfsteina (The Winter Garden of Arthur Klopfstein). Draft Zlatý Bažant and Amstel, as well as the dreaded absinthe, quench drinkers' appetites.
Michalská 10. Tel: 5441 4194. Open Mon-Fri 10:00-1:00, Sat-Sun 12:00-1:00.
Another underground Olf Town bar on Laurinská ulica. Patrons enjoy the wooden tables, framed Beatles records on the wall, and loud rock n' roll music in the air. Aligátor also regularily holds live music concerts with bands ranging from blues to pop to hard rock. Service is a bit slow and the air quite smokey, but all in all a fine place to drink a few beers and enjoy some tasty authentic Slovak food.
Laurinská 7. Tel: 5441 8611. Open: Mon-Sat 10:00-24:00, Sun 16:00-22:00.