Craft beer & cocktails are a relatively new thing for the country of Croatia. Only recently did Croatia start experiencing a craft beverage boom, and U.S. expat & cocktailer Tristan Delahunt is one of the individuals responsible for bringing these drinks to light.
Tristan is the co-owner of Caffe Bar Sanctuary, the first craft cocktail bar in Split, Croatia. In this episode, Tristan and I discuss the rise of craft drinking culture in Croatia, and some of the unique beverages that Croatians have been enjoying for years before that.
Caffe Bar Sanctuary – Split, Croatia
Don’t let the athletic font fool you…this place isn’t a sports bar! It’s one of the first craft cocktail joints in Split, Croatia, a picturesque port town on the coast of the Adriatic. Nestled in a former flower shop in the middle of the historic Diocletian Palace area, here you can find an extensive cocktail menu and Croatian craft beers.
- Croatian craft beer has been developing for about 3 years. Tristan discusses some of his favorite Croatian craft beers, and how the scene has been and continues to develop in Split and across Croatia as a whole.
- Sanctuary has been operating for 2 years. Originally slated to focus on beer, sports, and whiskey, the ambiance of the space resulted in Sanctuary morphing into a cocktail bar pretty quickly.
- Tristan is a cocktail bartender, originally from Seattle, who moved to Prague when he was 18 before heading down to Split to open Sanctuary.
- Split has intense tourism for about 5 months out of the year. Tristan discusses the challenges of running a bar in a seasonal tourist town.
- Croatia is not a particularly wealthy country, and hence one of the reasons craft drinking culture has not existed there until now. One beverage that has existed for years though is rakija, a fruit brandy that is made by many across Croatia.
- As we get more into Croatian nightlife, I share a story of my experiences with Croatian craft beer in Skradin shortly before coming to Split.
- The Diocletian Palace where Sanctuary is located is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As such, there are odd rules regulating how Tristan was able to modify his bar when he was preparing to open Sanctuary.
- Even though Sanctuary has athletic font for their logo, don’t expect that to change anytime soon. Tristan shares a drinking story that involves a Sanctuary tattoo.
Drinks of the Show:
- 5th Element Blonde Ale – A crisp summer ale from northern Croatia.
- Zmajska Pivovara Pale Ale – One of Tristan’s favorites in Croatia. Zmajska is the Croatian word for “dragon,” and this particular brewery was one of the first to kickstart the Croatian craft beer movement in 2013. We also drank this in Episode 25.
- Rakija – A Croatian fruit brandy that can range from drinkable (40% ABV) to paint thinner (90% ABV). I did a shot of this and it hurt.
- Espresso Martini – A signature cocktail at Sanctuary. I had it. It’s great.
Tristan’s Favorite Bars & Breweries in Split:
- Leopold’s – Tristan is a beer guy, and this craft beer bar behind the National Theater
- Lab Split – Lab is Split’s first craft brewery. Their flagship beer is the Barba Pale Ale
Sanctuary Bar is located at Poljana Stare gimnazije 1, 21000, Split, Croatia. Bar hours are 8am to 2am Monday through Saturday, and noon to 2am on Sundays.
“Nije Sve Tako Sivo” by Hladno Pivo. Check them out at hladnopivo.hr.