How to drink your way through Prague’s Christmas Markets

How to drink your way through Prague’s Christmas Markets


In case you haven’t traveled Europe during the holidays, we are here to tell you that vánoční trhy, or the christmas markets are in full swing. While we look forward to the christmas lights, gift giving and plethora of baked goods, we have to be honest- all we really want for Christmas is that mulled wine. Being that this drink provides the fuel for perusing the markets in single digit temperatures, we decided we needed to do a little research to find out who’s got the best svařák in town. After all, there are so many choices and only so much time- not all svařák is created equal.

Photo / Alexandra Siebenthal

In true journalistic fashion, when we set out to do our “research” for this article, we were surprised to discover the vast amount of hot alcoholic drinks available, expanding far beyond the traditional mulled wine and grog (rum with hot water and lemon) – in the best way. Don’t get me wrong, we love the traditional drinks, but we were delighted to find a the variety of new options and discover new ways to keep warm on chilly December nights. Thus, this piece has turned into a tipsy exploration of such offerings this holiday season. Let me tell you, Prague did not disappoint.

Where do we start? Our svařák odyssey began in one of our favorite local neighborhoods, Vinohrady. The market at Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad, or more affectionately known as Jiřak amongst locals, usually has someone offering this warm specialty in the colder months.  Lucky for us, during December they have expanded into a full-on Christmas Market! (Note: Jiřak, is located in a different neighborhood than Sir Toby’s but certainly worth the hike, just ask the hostel staff how to get there!)

Photo / Alexandra Siebenthal

First, we were (happily) roped into trying a speciality from Moravia (the eastern part of the Czech Republic)- Vanocni Most, or “christmas juice” if we are going for literal translation. This divine concoction of hot, spiced apple juice spiked with apple brandy seems only fitting for the the holidays in the Czech Republic. The apple brandy known as jablkovice (or more popularly, slivovice, made with plums) is something Czech’s swear by as a cure for any and all ailments, and something one must drink to chase the cold away. We are not complaining, and can’t say we disagree. The sweetness of the pressed apple juice cuts the potency of the spirit and is a nice deviation of the sweet svařák, with double the warmth. Certainly my new favorite to enjoy. Also available, the same recipe with pear. Pick your poison friends!

Just across from our friends selling the good old vanocni most, you have horka (hot) sangria. A wine shop “Chateau Safarikova” in Vinohrady set up shop in the same square, full of fragrant spiced wine you could smell when walking past. It was just enough to persuade us to add it to our list. Spicy AND fruity is what we got, so what is not to love? Nothing. There is nothing not to love.

Photo / Alexandra Siebenthal

Next we made our way to Náměstí Míru where we have our writer’s personal favorite – mulled wine from Levandule. They offer a rosé steeped with Lavender and we find it to be quite delicious as well as something unique. While Lavender as an edible is something either loved or hated, this surprisingly may be the middle ground for you skeptics. The flavor added is more herbal, cutting down on the sweetness and certainly sticks out in our minds as one of the must-haves at the markets. We promise it doesn’t taste like soap. We can’t forget the crepes and apple strudel cups to go with- but that’s a whole other article.

Perhaps sweetness overload is your thing (hey, we’re not judging) then definitely try some Medovina, aka Mead/Honeywine. Traditionally, drinking mead goes back to medieval times throughout most of Europe, but definitely has a special place during the holidays. I mean, what else are you going to wash down those cookies with? More sugar of course. Kiosks at both Náměstí Míru and Náměstí Republiky offered a rather impressive variety with a wide range of sweetness and flavors. With an almond-y, molasses taste and thick texture this drink feels like liquid dessert, in the best way of course.

Photo / Alexandra Siebenthal

Making our way to Tylovo Náměstí at I.P. Pavlova as we heard some chatter about a stand, Vinařství Kubík, serving either Chardonnay or Frankovka. While the Chardonnay was good, the Frankovka was definitely a stand out, making it more one of the more memorable glasses we got to enjoy on our journey. We are no sommeliers, just big svařák enthusiasts, however we can certainly tell the use of higher quality wine used making cup all the more delicious.

Of the Christmas markets, this one had my least favorite atmosphere being that the square is small, but most diverse variety of drinks. One stand offered everything from hot mojitos and pina coladas, to hot beer spiced with cinnamon or almond. Being that we are in the Czech Republic and beer is king, we had to give this a go. While actually not as terrible as it sounds and we sincerely appreciate the true locality of using our country’s bread and butter, svařák will always be our one true love during the holidays. Sorry horké pivo, we just like you cold too much.

Photo / Alexandra Siebenthal

So what is the verdict? Náměstí Míru and Tylovo Náměstí had the best offerings for svařák by far, however we think a good rule of thumb when deciding where to get your glass of purple liquid is to pick one that serves a particular beverages exclusively. Other places with excellent mulled wine? I found stands at the Prague Castle, Na Kampa, Náměstí Republiky and of course the iconic Old Town Square to be excellent options if that is where your explorations take you. Not to mention, the atmosphere and company that makes those hot beverages taste all the more sweet.

Photo / Richard Hodonicky

Don’t worry guys, the markets will be around until January 6th, so plenty of time to get your mulled wine (and everything else) on! 😉 Happy Holiday’s, and Merry Tasting.

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Alexandra is American photographer and writer living in Prague, who came for the views and stayed for the cheap beer. She is into sunrise walks on the bridge, cafe culture and is overly enthusiastic for all things Prague, travel and good coffee.

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