"Up in the Air" and Other Classics

Have a look at new recipes with bartenders' eyes!

By Federal Agency for Tourism

Bar by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Russians drink vodka. Statistics disagrees: beer is many times more popular. Vodka, meanwhile, has found its way into contemporary cocktail making that has deep historical roots in Russia. 

Glasses with drinks by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

Drinking culture historians believe that even Tsar Nicholas II had a drinks cabinet in his palace.

A 1905 article in New York Times alleges that a doctor taught the art of cocktail making to the Russian Tsar who proceeded to have an entire cabinet installed.

In the 1960s Soviet Union the country's largest Tupolev Tu-114 airliner had a cocktail bar. One of the cocktails was called “Up in the air”

- 30 ml Rowan Cognac nastoika
- 10 ml vanilla liqueur
- 60 ml Soviet Champagne

El Copitas Bar interior by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

Russia’s contemporary bar culture shows rapid development. Bartenders try different styles and win international competitions. Some, like Artyom Peruk, open well-known “secret” bars.

St. Petersburg boasts lots of establishments like this one, offering exotic spirits and cocktails. For instance, El Copitas Bar, 27th on the 2019 World’s 50 Best Bars ranking, serves Mexico's mescal. 

El Copitas Bar interior by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

El Copitas Bar team by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

This bar is a classical speakeasy: it has no sign, and the only way to locate it in the city’s maze of courtyards is to ask a friend for a detailed direction. Even then, admission is by prior reservation.

Yevgeniya Zarukina, El Copitas Bar by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

Russia’s bar culture is first and foremost the people behind it. If you want to familiarize yourself with its traditions and recent trends, take time to talk to alcohol producers, bar founders and staff. These people will guarantee a 100 percent immersion into bar culture.

Yevgeniya Zarukina, Bar Manager, El Copitas Bar

Aztec Negroni by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

A twist on the classics means a new original take on a famous cocktail that swaps some ingredients for new ones. Negroni Aztec, for instance, is a twist on the classical Negroni from El Copitas Bar’s Igor Zernov. 

His invention replaces gin with tequila and mescal:

- 30 ml Campari bitter
- 30 ml Red vermouth
- 30 ml Tequila
- 10 ml Mescal
- 2 drops of chocolate bitter
- Orange peel and homemade chili chocolate for decoration

Cocktail by RustourismFederal Agency for Tourism

The birthplace of vodka, Russia is the true port of call for those seeking vodka-based cocktails with unexpected additions from forest berries and herbs to honey and dried fruit. 

Russian bars will surely serve you with international classics of the likes of Moscow mule or countless original Bloody Marys.

Cocktail by OrthodoxFederal Agency for Tourism

Original cocktails are intriguing to discover at bars that keep with Russian drinking practices. One of such establishments is the Orthodox bar based at iconic Rubinstein Street in St. Petersburg's, one of the main cafe streets in Russia and Europe.

Orthodox serves cocktails that celebrate Russian authors, musicians and artists. There is, for instance, a Dostoevsky and a Tchaikovsky.

Cocktail by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

Here are few rules for a bar visit:

1. Go there with friends. One round will give you several drinks to taste to shape your preferences. Besides, people go to bars to talk.

2. Have a chat with the bartender. Often this is the person best positioned to recommend you a drink. Tell them what you like.

Cocktail with fruit by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

3. Monitor how much you’ve had and don't drink too much. Let’s say you can handle 200 ml of vodka - that’s 4 units of alcohol. A cocktail, in whatever shape it's served, contains about 1 to 1.5 units. That means you can have 3 and stay on your feet. 

Important: don’t binge them all at once. This will produce the same effect as downing a glass of vodka in one go. Take your time savouring and enjoying the taste.

El Copitas Bar interior by El Copitas BarFederal Agency for Tourism

6. Don't forget the tip. It is considered polite to give a tip worth 5 to 20 percent of the bill. The lower threshold is reserved for bills upwards of $1000. A tip over 20 percent is a clear romantic suggestion.

Denis Temny, Expert of a large international alcoholic company in Eastern Europe and Asia

4. It is customary in Russia to clink your glass with your friend’s before drinking, but this usually is not done with cocktails. Instead, raise a glass and toast the person while looking straight into their eyes.
5. Drink a glass of water in between cocktails.

Credits: Story

Сhief Сonsultant — Ekaterina Drozdova, restaurateur, gastronomic entrepreneur, food and social activist, Contributors — Anton Obrezchikov, Proximity Russia, tm agency, Denis Temnyi, 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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