Is This the New Cocktail Capital of Europe?

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Around 11:30 one night, I rang the buzzer outside Beogradski Koktel Klub, a speakeasy-style bar where Old Town and Dorcol meet. A darkened window next to the door slid open, and the co-owner and bartender Filip Ivanovic poked his head out. He smiled and slammed the window shut, and the door creaked open. “Hey brother!” he said to me. It was only my second visit, but here again was that Serbian hospitality.

On my first visit I had tried a kleka soda, and I wanted to see what else he could mix with rakia. Mr. Ivanovic set down a tumbler of gin, pear rakia, pear cordial, elderflower liqueur, grapefruit juice and soda water. “If Italians have Campari and amaro, Americans have bourbon, Caribbeans have rum, we have rakia,” Mr. Ivanovic said.

The narrow, 16-seat bar, which opened in 2017, feels like a private club. With jazz in the background, Mr. Ivanovic and his brother Uros Ivanovic chat with regulars. Filip is passionate about the history of cocktails, and often evokes Mr. Vujic, the 1920s Belgrade bartender. The bar even has a collection of old cocktail books, including a reprint of the 1927 “Barflies and Cocktails: 300 Recipes,” by Harry McElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris.

One night, Mr. Ruzicic from Riddle Bar was there and we started discussing the future of the Belgrade bar scene. Before I took my last sip, he said, “Now that I’ve reached a certain level of success in the bartending world here, people often ask me if I’m ready to move to a place like New York or London.” But why, he asked, “would I want to go anywhere else? We are living in the golden age of cocktail bars in Belgrade right now.”

Beogradski Koktel Klub, Uzun Mirkova 7, cocktails around 1,000 dinars.

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