Coffee and Wine – Favourite Drinks of Bratislava


In many countries were Cafés popular centres for amusement and social life, where younger and older intellectuals could meet. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that the first cafés in London got a nickname “penny universities.” Such intellectual centres were popular also in Bratislava. This is proved, beside other proves, by a decree issued by Maria Theresa in 1772 prohibiting a billiard being played during Sundays and Holidays before 4 pm. 

Even though the cafés were popular amongst intellectuals, together with pubs and inns ranked among the “list of institutions” which the sovereign together with a part of the enlightened nobility considered deteriorating and decadent. An effort for purification and moralizing of the society was aimed at the centres of amusement, which were supporting progressiveness but at the same supporting idleness and spoiling the moral of young generation. 

Coffee as a beverage, got to the Austria-Hungary, same as it got to the entire Europe, from the Middle East, where it was already very popular. Also, the name coffee comes from the Turkish - Arabic word kahve, meaning a dazzling beverage.  The negativist attitude towards cafés wasn´t present only in the Enlightenment Europe but also in the Muslim world. Drinking coffee was not only addictive but also unhealthy – in Europe, the main problem was the above mentioned gathering of intellectuals and their “loitering”. 

Because coffee came to the old continent with Ottoman merchants, it is therefore no surprise that the first café opened in Venice, one of the biggest trading centres of the 16th Century world. According to the legend, coffee got to the territory of Austria-Hungary in the huge bags that Ottomans left behind the walls of Vienna in 1683. There isn´t any legend about coffee and Bratislava, but we know that several cafés occurred in the city already in the 18th Century. The most famous were Casino in the building of City Theatre, café U slnka at Ventúrska street or Café of Jurists at Promenade. Presuming that the only activity there was drinking coffee is wrong – chess, cards or billiard were very popular activities, they were serving Mokka, waiters were ironing the press (mostly the Viennese press) for the guests. One more interesting fact about coffee is, that people in Bratislava used to drink coffee even before the first “official cafés” were being opened - sold by vendors called caffeesiedlers. 

Café owners were conscientious and wanted to establish a guild but local authority didn´t allow them. It was because the authority had the same opinion as the Empress – that cafés are a seedbed for political free thought. 


Wine has always been a popular drink in Bratislava. The region around the city was, however, at the notional edge between the beer and the wine popularity but the wine was still a bit higher. This beverage was brought to our territory by the Romans. Based on the legend, Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Probus commanded his legionaries to plant wineyards in Pannonia during their free time, his order started the tradition of cultivating grapevine. However, archaeologists found the evidence proving the wine cultivation already in the 7th Century BC, but without any written evidence we can only assume what was their way of planting. Romans were not the only ones to favour wine though – even the Celts used to savour wine and contributed to grapewine planting. 

The Slavs continued in this tradition and from the Middle age the wine has made an important part of municipal economics. In the 15th Century, there were 472 vinicultural families living in Bratislava and all of them were able to hold out for as the consumption of wine and the its demand was really high. All of this was still not enough for the local epicureans that wanted to taste foreign wines, but local viniculturists resisted the foreign competitors, protected by the sovereign privileges. 

As the time passed these strict rules loosened but merchants had to pay 40 denars per every single bucket of foreign wine. This order was, however, easily bypassed by merchants – paying to the right persons at the right time. The competition to the Bratislava winemakers was grooving rapidly this way until a new regulation has been issued in 1747. Every merchant had to obtain a permit even before he got the wine into the city and that only through the gate at Suché Mýto. Smuggling was also very difficult, because the gate was well protected and so was the Podhradie and the city surroundings were under strict surveillance because it was often used by students or young journeymen.