Nastoika or the Russian Bar Drink

A tradition that transcends the ages

Nastoikas by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Prestigious establishments will use nastoikas to make cocktails.

Nastoikas (tincture)

come from an old Russian tradition that has seen a revival in Russia’s contemporary bar culture. Almost any bar has an in-house distillery to match its identity.

Red nastoika by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

The nastoika culture traces its origins to the 19th-century liqueur making. It was considered a matter of prestige to have a cellar that would contain a drink variety for each letter of the alphabet. 

Table with drinks and snacks by Alexander AverinFederal Agency for Tourism

Less pricey bars and Russian cuisine restaurants will serve them neat. Even if there are no nastoikas on the menu, ask your bartender, who will likely find some.  

Nastoika with snack by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Nastoikas based on polugar, a vodka ancestor, are also highly recommended. 

Nastoika is usually vodka infused with fruits, berries, spices or roots that give the resulting beverage their colour, taste and aroma. Traditional varieties include pertsovka (pepper), khrenovukha (horseradish), and those with garden or forest berries: cranberry,  lingonberry, raspberry, and blackcurrant.  

Bar with nastoikas by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

The best way to try a nastoika is to visit a particularly Russian British-pub-meets-neighbourhood-bar location called “ryumochnaya”, where people go to have a heart-to-heart as well as a drink, without delicacy distractions.

The assortment of side dishes is usually large, but the main focus is always on traditional strong liquor such as vodka, nastoikas and polugars.

Bread wine by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Polugars and bread wines are vodka predecessors. Unlike vodka, however, which is produced from neutral spirit and has no distinctive taste or aroma, polugars and bread wines are distillates preserving the taste of the cereals ...

... they were distilled from, such as malt, rye, or barley. Some varieties are flavoured with fruit, berries and spices: raspberry, cherry, pepper or juniper.

Yevgeniya Zarukina by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

Yevegnia Zarukina, Bar Manager, El Copitas Bar

“I believe we are witnessing a rebirth of the traditional Russian distillates of quality vodka and polugar. By the way, we are releasing the Tselovalnik vodka that showcases Russian drinking culture and tradition in our country and beyond”.  

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors— Anton Obrezchikov, Proximity Russia, Yevgeniya Zarukina, Denis Yershov, Artem Peruk

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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