First Choice Blog

    Know your mojito from your Manhattan? How about your sidecar from your sazerac? This four-time Guinness World Record-winning Bulgarian boozer’s got ‘em all.

    Cocktail central

    From the outside, Pench’s wouldn’t have you thinking style icon, but the inside’s a different story altogether. Snuggled into a basement, this speakeasy-like joint drops you straight into the roaring Twenties, with low-lighting glowing from glass lamps and deep red seats wrapping around the room. But we’re not here to chat about decor. This dinky drinking spot comes with a knockout secret, and it’s more than got the skills to pay the bills. After winning its first Guinness World Record in 2002 for having the most commercially available cocktails in a bar – they had 974 – Pench’s has been bending over backwards to hang on to the crown. And, they’ve pretty much smashed it. Three years later the count clocked in at 1,227, and then zoomed up even further to 1,244 by 2010. This is where it gets really special. In 2014, Pench’s tipple tally got super-sized to just over two thousand options. At this point, you’d need to down more than five different cocktails every day for a year to get through the list. Chin chin.

    The big hitters

    We’re not just talking your run-of-the-mill firewater here – the menu’s as weird and wonderful as its gets, so there’s oodles of Instagram-worthy fodder. Think blizzards of tangy salt framing margaritas, jelly-style options and even cocktails which come smoking with puffs of dry ice. And, there’s no shortage of fancy-pants decoration. Elaborately cut pieces of fruit top the zestier mixes, and the espresso martinis bring cocoa powder stencils to the table. Keep an eye out for the wooden barrels stacked up pyramid-style at one end of the bar, too. The cocktails in here have been left to age, so they’re pretty damn potent. If you’re feeling brave, plump for the Godfather – a whisky and amaretto combo. It’s not just the drinks that deserve a shout out, either. Some of the bartenders have scooped top three spots at the World Cocktail Championships. Our top tip? Don’t even bother torturing yourself with decisions, ask the marvellous mixologists to whip you up their recommendation. Or, if all else fails, shut your eyes and point.

    Mix it up

    It’s not all maraschino cherry-edged cocktails in Varna, though – this part of the world’s also a hotshot on the vino scene. In between glugging gin gimlets, give the local plonk a chance to win over your taste buds. History junkies can knock themselves out, too – Varna’s home to its own brand of ancient sites. The oldest gold in the world was found at a burial site nearby, and you’ll find the Aladzha Monastery bunged straight into a cliffside. Greece, eat your heart out. And, while you’re knocking around Bulgaria’s seaside superstar, it’d be rude not to drop in on the 20 kilometres of cookie dough-coloured sand which squiggles its merry way along the coastline.

    Ready to wet your whistle with Pench’s long – island iced tea – list of tipples? Pack your bags and head for Varna.