Once upon a time in my Vienna history, I was working as a travel writer and as a waitress. This combination is particularly tricky in a town like Vienna. By day I’d be whizzing from one 5-star hotel to the next Michelin-listed fine-dining location and by night I’d serve drinks at an Irish pub – with orders like “Diesel” or “cola rot” – things no self-respecting gourmet would be caught dead with. But I also learned important terms like Absacker (one last drink) and Fluchtachterl (one for the road, lit., the glass of wine as you flee) – proof that ending an evening in this culture is no easy matter.
Through it all, I was privy to the whole spectrum of leisure-time consumption – from spritzers poured from Dopplerflaschen to the world largest champagne cellar (it’s in Palais Coburg, see page 60). In short, I discovered that Vienna takes its alcohol and the consumption thereof as a matter of importance – but also as a matter of course.
It’s the only capital city that has a substantial wine making industry within the city limits, it’s also a city that begins the evening decidedly late. Maybe it’s a tradition created by ball-season, or by the debauchery, or by the people just piling on one akademische Viertelstunde (the accepted 15-minute delay) after the next until they’re finishing dinner after midnight.
In the Prost! issue, we’ve devoted our attention to the süffige things in life (things that go down easily). The cover story, written by Vienna’s own Alltagspoet, gives an intimate account of growing up in Vienna, and the regional differences in drinking culture in Austria. In a society where certain beverages are so tightly linked with cultural identity, the producers and presenters play an outsized role, a microbrewer, a sommelier, gin makers and, finally, the monk who produces wine, beer, and schnapps. But we also spoke to an expert in enjoying the stuff: Vienna’s legendary mayor, Michi Häupl.
If you want to take matters into your own hands, you’ll learn how you, too, can become a sommelier and to stay out of trouble for a little make-your-own, our experts at Vienna Legal have you covered (84). If you’re more of a mixer than a winemaker, you’ll also find hands-on career pointers from some of Vienna’s best barkeepers.
And yes, in the end, alcohol is a business and the Austrian wine industry, like others, has been affected by the lockdowns – but it wasn’t all bad. Looking abroad, wine-lovers will be pleased to know that Austrian wine has been experiencing a brand-renaissance in the export market, as our culinary reporter Bart De Vries looks into how Austro-wines have measured up abroad.
The city is welcoming partygoers – COVID willing – and the fall beckons with plenty of events and new locations to discover. You can discover the easy-going world of the Heurigen, the wine taverns with a culture all their own. And you can start in Grinzing, the location of this issue’s Grätzl. You’ll also find plenty of new restaurants (Tolstoy) as well as get to know the people behind old favorites (Heuer am Karlsplatz) and the first brewery hotel Vienna has ever seen.
If you’re ready to give the true Austrian beverage culture a try, we’ve included a calendar insert of the beverage-of-choice for every month of the year, to build your confidence in what you order, serve or share with your fellow Genießer. Because particularly when drinking, the rule is, don’t be a stranger.