In 1943, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously plied Stalin with a Martini at the Tehran Conference, leading Nikita Khrushchev later to declare the drink “America’s secret weapon.” While American cocktail culture wasn’t exactly embraced by its Cold-War rivals, today things have changed. Russia has become the fastest-growing luxury goods market in the world, and Moscow’s newfound affluence has led to the opening of an array of decadent restaurants and great watering holes.
Nowadays, Russia is developing its own arsenal of high-proof weapons. Here is a list of some of the bars where you can try them.
Dmitrovka Ulitsa Bldg. 2, 495 629 0811:
The All-Time Bar has a stylish, modern interior complete with exposed brick walls, baroque-style chandeliers and tufted leather couches. It’s befitting, since the establishment set the standard for Moscow’s drinks scene. Sit back and enjoy classic tipples or award-winning bartender Dmitry Sokolov’s well-designed creations, while you sample gourmet snacks and international-inspired dishes.
What to Drink: Moscow Orange Sour (vanilla-infused vodka, homemade sea-buckthorn berry syrup, orange juice, orange bitters, egg white)
Escape the harsh Russian winter at Moscow’s first tiki joint (pictured above). Surfboards, canoes and a waterfall set the tropical mood. The menu even works as a cocktail compass, guiding you to the perfect concoction based on your personal preferences. Tipples include such staples as Scorpion Bowls and Mai Tais, plus more than 80 types of rum.
What to Drink: Incognito (pisco reservado, flower honey infused with white truffle, black walnut bitters, lime juice, egg white)
Taking center stage in the large loft space is a long bar surrounded by sofas and low seating where people can relax and enjoy food—mainly Italian and Japanese—coffee and cocktails. The mixed drinks are crowd-pleasers like Mojitos, Margaritas and Bloody Marys.
What to Drink: Fruit Margarita (tequila, strawberry liqueur, lime juice, simple syrup, fresh strawberries)
This is the newest spot from All-Time Bar’s Sokolov, and its stylish cocktails and varied food selection attract an eclectic crowd, including cigar-smoking ex-pat businessmen, local young professionals and weekend warriors. And like a dream, it’s open all day and night.
What to Drink: Winter Melody (saffron gin, gooseberry marmalade, plum bitters, cherry bitters, lemon juice)
Bar Gipsy, 3/4 Bolotnaya Naberezhnaya, 495 669 8693:
Look behind the famous statue of Peter the Great, in the old Red October chocolate factory, and you’ll find one of the city’s hottest spots. The club is extensive, with two terraces—one mellow and one where the crowd dances to famous DJs. The bar inside offers more than 30 drinks and also sells kebabs. What more could you want for a big night out?
What to Drink: Raratonga (rum, berry liqueur, simple syrup, fresh lime juice, fresh berries, bitters
Bolotny Ostrov, an island in the Moskva River, boasts fantastic views of landmarks like the Cathedral of Christ the Savior and the Kremlin. It’s also home to the Strelka Institute for Media, Architecture and Design, and its trendy bar. The establishment serves 50 different cocktails that are mostly fresh fruit-forward and is run by one of the city’s best-known bar managers, Sergey Chesnokov. All profits are donated to the institute.
What to Drink: Aperol Daiquiri (Aperol, Bacardi Superior Rum, rose and grapefruit liqueur, agave, lime juice)
Looking for more great watering holes? Check out our bar guide for the best bars in the world.