The beginning long forgotten

Ode to a simple pub of Pest

When me and my friends reached the age when everybody starts drinking alcohol, we went to our former schoolmates’ favourite place, the Óbester Winehouse. According to the bar’s “rules” we rather drank wine than vodka-orange or whisky-coke as the teenagers of our age. Normally elder people used to go to this winehouse, but they accepted us when they saw that we tried to fit in by drinking wine or spritzer. We drank it in a proportion of 2 dl wine and 1 dl sparkling water, which is called nagyfröccs (big spritzer). A legit question could be: why didn’t we drink beer instead of wine? Well, because drinking wine and spritzer fit better in the image of the bar.

Later going to Óbester became a weekly habit, it became part of our lives, and during the time spent there our still remaining group of friends was formed. Drinking wine was an important symbol of our get-togethers.

We could choose from a selection of Hungarian wines, for example we tasted the wines of Béres, Dereszla and Haraszthy wineries – though these were rare occasions, usually we could afford only the basic wine of the pub of obscure origin.

In Hungary we usually drink wine as fröccs (by adding bubbly water to it), so normally we did the same in Óbester. These get-togethers went on for years, and most of the time we went to Óbester. Árpi and Judit (the bar’s owners) strongly affected our alcohol drinking habits, and they led us on a way from which there was no coming back. They ordered and tested – on us – wines from all around the country, these experiences affected – and still affect – my wine selection preference.

Today, as a big fan of Hungarian wines I can say that if I hadn’t gone to Óbester in my twenties, I would probably be a beerlover now.

Epilogue

Óbester is originally a German world (oberst) and it refers to the highest rank in the army, the colonel. It usually described a person in 18–19thcentury tales or poems, who was born as a child of a poor man, but had a glamorous career in the army. Óbester pub is still open in the 7thdistrict of Budapest in Huszár street, and new teenagers are converted to winelovers…

By Máté Bruckner

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