article for viennawurstelstand.com
Luster is the newest instalment from Florian Egger und Vladimir Petrovic the duo behind Zweitbester in the 4th (Heumühlgasse). The cocktail bar opened in January of this year and is your quintessential classy establishment - high ceilings, dark wood furniture, low-lighting, gold framed photos and mirrors - with a hint of industrialism in the exposed brick walls. The upbeat dinner jazz playing matches the sophisticated yet chic vibe.
The first thing you notice when entering Luster is the impressive hanging bar. It’s an imposing structure, multi levelled, filled with bottles of coloured (and deliciously intoxicating) liquids and well-lit. It’s accompanied by two other hanging chandeliers or as the Austrians would say “lusters”, giving birth to the bar’s name.
In this bar, the focus is cocktails. They’re the largest section of the menu with 4 pages of delectable liquid concoctions, 70% of them original Luster creations. The mastermind behind the cocktail list is Marco Pani, one of the best cocktail bartenders going around in Vienna. The list is constantly changing as he aims to represent the current trends in the bartending world. Marco is philosophical about what cocktails mean to him. He quotes Prousts series of books “La recherche du temps perdu” when talking about how a drink (or in Proust’s case a “madeleine”) can serve to recreate experiences and bring about that wistful feeling of nostalgia.
While the cocktail list is mostly Marco’s creations, he will happily mix any drink you like, as long as either you or him know the recipe and despite the class and quality of the place he definitely won’t turn his noise up at a Pina Colada request. For him, if that helps you remember that perfect beach-side holiday then he’s happy.
Marco being the sole cocktail maker can make service lag a little on busy nights but anything he serves up is well worth the wait. I savoured his signature “Thai Massage” - a perfect blend of ginger and lemongrass infused Tanqueray gin, homemade vanilla and honey chilli syrup and fresh lime juice. It was zesty, smooth and spicy all in one.
Excellent food accompanies their excellent cocktails at Luster. The menu is somewhat limited but fitting for a bar with a selection of smaller items to share and meals to help line the stomach and keep the cocktails coming. Their best-seller is the chop cheese sandwich with fries while I feasted on the beef tartare prepared in a tasty marinade, mouth-watering watercress butter and warm crunchy bread.
The best thing about Luster is that if you’ve had one too many espresso martinis and are feeling like spicing your night up, you can just head downstairs to their club room, where all the cool kids hang out smoking. Luster hosts various live DJ events in this space and also rents it out for private functions.