Perhaps you're at dinner contemplating the second half of your blanket-sized Wiener schnitzel at the Sacher Hotel restaurant, wondering if you'll still have room for the legendary Sachertorte and, maybe, a cigar. While outdoor cafes are populated with smokers, finding an indoor cigar lounge has become vexing in Vienna.
An Internet search will yield a few cigar-friendly addresses, but be careful. Many of these venues allowed lighting up indoors in the past, but no more. Fortunately, Kruger's American Bar is holding back the barbarians at the gate.
Just a few paces from the ever-elegant Sacher Hotel, crossing to the east of the main Karntner Strasse into the old red-light district, the oldest bar in Vienna—established in 1911 as the Kaiser Bar—offers an open door to cigar lovers. Kruger's has "American" in its name due to the American-style long bar with wood paneling in it. In front is a larger bar area, but you will want to walk back into the cigar lounge, separated by a glass wall.
Choose from among a dozen overstuffed, leather seats or one of the high top tables in the cigar lounge or sit at the bar and admire the rich woods and dark lighting that set the tone for a relaxed evening out. A big mirror, old school lamps and fixtures dot the décor and, curiously, the music filling the room is a series of duets with Lionel Ritchie, though Sinatra, Dean Martin and Aretha Franklin are promised most evenings.
When you arrive, you'll see the cigars up front. Among the available Cuban cigars on a recent visit are Cohiba Robustos (28 euros), Maduro 5 Mágicos (36 euros) and Maduro 5 Secretos (17.50 euros). Montecristo No. 2s (19.50 euros) look good, but I opt for the Partagás Serie D No. 4, which at about 16 euros is a good bargain. Also consider the sometimes available, off-menu Juan López Distinguidos, a Regional Edition perfecto made exclusively for Germany, or a Punch Punch (16.40 euros). Whatever your choice, the opportunity for pairing is ample at Kruger's.
The server, Juan from Valencia, Spain, is excited about our wanting to complement the cigars with the right drinks. He recommends the "Kruger's Special," a blend of Bacardi Carta Oro, apricot brandy, lime, passion fruit, orange and grenadine. It's a nice, not overly sweet, balance with enough rum so that you know it's a cocktail.
For the purists, Juan offers a rum with intense coffee and tobacco notes. The name on the bottle is El Puro, The Spirit of Cigars. Nice, but there's also a Havana Club Selección de Maestros among the more than 20 rums offered, and that's just superb with a cigar.
The Kruger's single-malt Scotch menu is long, highlighted by a 21-year-old Glenfiddich, The Macallan Sienna and Highland Park 18 year old. Some Japanese single malts, Canadian whiskies and blended Scotches round out the whiskey menu, along with about a dozen Bourbons and a couple of ryes. An important note, if you want to visit before dinner, happy hour is until 8 p.m. with cocktails at about seven euros.
In May 2018, a series of anti-smoking laws are supposed to go into full effect in Austria. If that happens (lawsuits have been filed against the government), Kruger's will have to cease allowing smoking indoors. However, it has a large sidewalk café on Krugerstrasse and there is some talk among the owners of forming some sort of private membership for its cigar-loving patrons. By the bar's own count, 95 percent of the guests who smoke are enjoying cigars.
For the moment, look for the red neon stars on the white façade in the old red-light district and relish a little bit of classic Vienna. And make sure to call ahead for a table.
Kruger's American Bar
1010 Vienna, Austria
+43 (0)1 512 24 55
Monday through Saturday: 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Sundays and holidays: 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.