Cloud 9

Expats.cz

If you name your place of business Cloud 9, you are proposing a fairly heavenly experience. Luckily for the new Cloud 9 sky bar & lounge, perched on the 9th floor of the Hilton Prague Hotel, it easily lives up to its lofty goals.

It’s hard to decide which aspect of the lounge leaves the most lasting impression. Upon exiting the elevator, you must turn the corner to release your first gasp of pleasure. This occurs as a perfectly framed view of Prague Castle comes into sight. The entire space is long and narrow; laid out like this to offer maximum views no matter what part of the bar you are in. A long corridor, strung with lights and a few cozy conversational nooks brings you to the main lounge area. A sharp right turn and a completely different view of Prague hits you, this time over the Vltava. There are two outdoor terraces, a smaller one at this junction, and the larger one at the other end. The weather was not cooperative enough for us to sit outside, however, in nicer months the terraces should prove extremely popular.

The design is sleek, cool and colorful. Purple and black upholstered throne chairs command window-side seats, while benches line the opposite wall. The bar is about halfway down in the middle and is surprisingly small. Red and orange sunrise carpeting covers the floor and above is a funky lightening system. Multi-colored panels offer a rotating rainbow of hues that can be linked to the lounge’s music system. Controlled by a DJ, manually or set to rotate automatically, they allow for some excellent mood lighting. The music is lounge music with an electronic touch – that’s not some official entertainment speak, but the best way to describe the chilled vibes that were playing. It could definitely be heard; conversation was still easy and completely fit the environment. Cloud 9 has two set DJ’s on Thursdays (Bela Enchant) and Saturdays (Big Jay) and Fridays they’ll offer rotating ones.

The view however is spectacular. The glass only walls that line one entire side of the space leave nothing to the imagination. We weren’t seated by the windows, and still had a practically unobstructed panorama. The bar doesn’t even have a back, so sitting there you’ll still have a lovely Prague vista. We arrived before sunset so got to see the whole show – all the city sites while it was still daylight, a slow shifting of light as the sun started to go down and then finally the city lights starting to awaken. Best sunset viewing location has to be from the bar’s smaller terrace. But are you only here for the view? You shouldn’t be, because the drinks list is a reason to visit all on its own.

Cloud 9 has employed a master bartender Roman Uhlíř to design their cocktail menu. He created nine signature drinks especially for the lounge, and each offers something a little different. The Charisma (160CZK) is a sweet-spicy sip that starts with the flavor of melon liqueur and shifts to a chili pepper after kick. This comes courtesy of the red pepper perched on the side of your glass. We also sampled the Extravaganza (160CZK), a fizzy gin and raspberry concoction perfect for hot summer nights. Being a margarita girl, I had to sample the raspberry one (140CZK) and it was heavenly. The Sunshine, another signature drink, combined the warm flavors of coconut, orange and pineapple with a touch of campari for a unique finish. The most impressive signature drink was the Mystic (160CZK.) Made with Uhlíř’s own special ginger syrup it had a brilliant flavor that will be ordered again. Each drink was perfectly created, and questions about what was what, quickly answered. The drinks list also includes champagne and wine cocktails, a long list of liquors, and of course, beer and wine for those who may become cocktail’ed out.

The food menu is small and light. They are promoting a grazing concept which means you can order three or four items to sample and share. We did just that and quickly developed our favorites. The bruschetta (290CZK) was an excellent meld of vegetables and ricotta. It came with an olive tapenade that should be bottled and sold. The beef items also got rave views – both the peppered beef satay (260CZK) and the beef tartar (290CZK) received thumbs up. Seafood items also appear – the tiger prawns (310CZK) and Thai shrimp with lemongrass (290CZK) were rated the best. Another enthusiastic response to a dipping sauce – this time the red chili sambal. Like the drinks, each plate was lovingly presented, and as the sole vegetarian in the group – questions about the food were easily answered.

They have many offerings specially targeted to groups. The Cloud Party (980CZK) is a selection of cocktails served in a pitcher while the Cloud Chill (3,500CZK) is a very cool bottle of alcohol, such as vodka or tequila, served in a block of ice. It comes with gloves for the lucky one who gets to attempt to pour, as well as mixers.

Overall my expectations were exceeded. Cloud 9 is completely relaxed and offers such a laidback atmosphere, anyone can feel comfortable. Service is quick and friendly, but thankfully not hovering. A couple things may initially put you off. First, the place is pricy. This is definitely not a random evening drop in joint – however for out-of-town guests and special occasions, it has moved to the top of the list. Their prices are in line with other local cocktail bars, but you have the added, free bonuses of a beautiful location and excellent service. Also, it’s in a hotel – not usually a space you’d think would house a unique go-to destination. Forget that reason – there’s an elevator immediately to your right when you enter the lobby and there are plans to build a completely separate entrance in the future. The music, the views, the lovely drinks – Cloud 9 is really the only name this place can carry.