While Moscow’s quota of independent bars has increased over the past five years, the trend more recently has been towards star bartenders getting together to run the best outlets. Dima Sokolov, Alexander Kan, Marat Saddarov recently teamed up for The Bartenders Group
. They co-own or consult on around 20 of Moscow’s best venues. Martinez
, Cuba Libre
are all in one group too, run by Seiran Gevorkian at United Bars. And Bek Nazri, head of The Russian Cocktail Club
, overseas bars in the powerful Ginza
group, with more than 100 venues worldwide. It’s been difficult, but from this huge choice of outlets to drink at in the city, and with the help of Erik Lorincz and Max La Rocca, we’ve managed to come up with a top 10.
The top ranking in the recent World’s 50 Best
, and deserving of all the accolades. Chinaya is where tea meets high-end cocktail bar. It’s owned by Roman Milostivy, and the Oriental interior, plus quirky opening hours, show strong speakeasy leanings. Bartender Roma will make you a delicious tequila with sauvignon blanc, gooseberries, St. Germain, agave syrup, lime juice and soda.
With one of Moscow’s top mixologists Slava ‘Booze’ Lanki at the helm, along with great drinks, bartenders from around the world are drawn to this bar with its simple stripped-back wood interior. Guests are urged to create their own cocktails, with the help of staff. A ‘Chiki-Puki’ is a selection of shots of locally made infusions. Meanwhile the barrel ageing, distilling and infusing continue in the background.
3. 22.13 Favourite Place
Created by New York-based advertising agency Global Point
(with a branch in Moscow), this venue has an industrial feel – low ceilings and raw textures enlivened by torch lighting. World Class 2013 finalist Kirill Runkov heads up the bar area, serving drinks like duck fat-washed Johnnie Walker Blue with fig confit, honey and chocolate bitters. It’s part of a growing chain, with a Favourite Place bar in St Petersburg, New York and a new venue coming to Paris soon.
The hot new bar in Moscow, with a ‘liquid food’ menu created by bartender Alexander Kan of Bartender Brothers
. The design is almost anti-design: a strange assortment of garden benches, model stork birds and exposed brick. It’s consciously non-flashy too – no heavy sofas and private rooms here. But great cocktails include British Moonshine, a delicious combination of gin with yuzu juice and milk syrup.
5. Main bar
Dimitri Sokolov has hit the bullseye with this place, a combination of marble cocktail bar, dance hall and wine library full of top bottles. There’s an extensive cocktail menu, which changes every few months, including the delicious Back in Charm created by bartender Anastasia Gvak, with rum, green tea and Pedro Ximinez sherry. Starting out in 1998, Dimi now has five bars in Moscow: Help Bar
, Tema Bar
, Free Bar
, Dream Bar
and All Time bar
This is a classic cocktail bar, with another of those Bartender Brothers Marat Saddarov in charge, and just enough room for 12 stools at the bar and 100 guests in the main room. Expertly made Martinis and Old Fashioned are served in cut-crystal glasses. Bizarrely, the name comes from a group of Amsterdam-based photographers, who exhibit at the bar. Brush up on your Russian and you’ll get some great stories out of Marat.
7. City Space
The views are by now legendary, the cocktails are keeping up too with one of the latest being a combination of vodka, sea buckthorn jam, rosemary, orange, ginger and lime – ‘Trans Siberian Express’. Bartenders encourage guests to try new flavours and cocktails, this Swissotel-based
venue at the top of the 140 metre concrete tower still has it.
8. Gastrobar WR
This first-floor project from bar restaurant White Rabbit is worth a visit now the food and cocktail pairing is in full swing. Chef Vladimir Mukhin and Oleg Reshetnyakov, who calls himself a ‘chef-bartender’ share a two-sided counter, creating a 10-part tasting menu, pairing appetisers and cocktails – something that’s the holy grail for many brand owners. November will see a whole new menu of matching.
Part the velvet curtains at the back of this Chinese restaurant for a whole new world of drinking, away from the fast food being served out front. The long benches turn into sofas and elegant alcoves, as a lavish private bar that’s been the source of much gossip opens up before you. Classic curved cellars are the setting for delicious cocktails based on absinthe and tea.
10. Bar 19
A bar on the top floor of ArtHouse
, on the banks of the Yauza river, this is the second coming of the famous pop-up, with a permanent venue likely to follow next year, replicating the 12-metre high ceilings and wall art from street artists from around Europe. It’s the brainchild of ArtKvartal
, the company based at ArtHouse, and its founder Lana Grineva. Top mixologists take part, including London’s Andreas Tsanos – look out for its permanent incarnation now that doors have just closed on 31 October.