Another grossly outdated page overdue for a serious review...
This drawing is used as the BACK TO INDEX button on pages that some may find offensive. By Vovchik of Ryazan.
A review of the Russian drinking scene, brands, drinking establishments in Moscow, vodka drinking process, drink compatibilities, hangover prevention strategies and cures, and anything else to keep you guzzling beer, vodka, wine, moonshine and what not in a safe and enlightened/enlightening manner. Compiled by me, uncle Pasha, a practicing Moscow alcoholic if we are to apply the criteria of the DiagnosticAL and Statistical Manual but a walking example of moderation by local standards..
Why I slapped together this
Yet another couple of my accommodation guests (see
homestays and budget apartments in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia)
drinking themselves dog sick prompted me to start this long-overdue
Contributions of materials and thoughts welcomed. Drinking information, stories, insights and what can also be be left in my Guestbook.
[photo of aluminium fork]
I believe my taste in buzz-inducing substances is good enough to be shared with humanity. Still, I welcome expressions of descent and suggestions of good Russian beers.
|Ochakovo Special. Light, cheap (35 cents for 0.5L
bottle), pleasant in a non-pretentious sort of way, and will not
make you sick no matter how much you drink. Hot weather type of beer. Of all
beers I would especially recommend Ochakovo for making the so-called "yorsh"
("ruff", the kind of fish with spiky fins), a beer and vodka cocktail.
Klinskoye Redkoye ("Klin Rare"). Presently one of my favourites. Solid, filling, and inexpensive (16-18 roubles). Brewed in Klin, and Klin is where the Tchaikovky museum is, speaking of which, do check out my Moscow to St. Petersburg trip.
Zolotaya Bochka (Golden Barrel). The Vyderzannoye ("Seasoned") variety and a small bag of dry bread sticks replaces a meal.
Tinkoff (www.tinkoff.ru/eng/) is as close as you can get to quality American beer. Yet, "what's in common between American beer and making love in a canoe - both are f*cking close to water" does not apply to Tinfoff. Great when you need to drink yet don't want to feel heavy and bloated. Got me running trough several days of hell in Moscow in the summer of 2002 during intense peat bog fires. Best drunk well before or after the meal, and consuming it with dry fish Russian-style is especially counter-indicated.
Obolon - Several excellent beers from Kiev, Ukraine, and they sell for no more than 20 roubles (70 cents) per bottle. Try "Magnat" if you can find it. This brewer even takes care to indicate the geological origin of their water (Jurassic and Cenomanian water horizons) in the ingredient list. Their site is www.obolon.ua.
Klinskoye Redkoye. Also available in bottles. 5.8% alcohol, 14% density.
The company outlet in Ochakovo, a south-western district of Moscow, is generously decorated with rhyming slogans dedicated to the glorification of beer.
Both Bochkarev (a Russian Heineken product)and Nevskoye are brewed in St. Petersburg. The city's surreal character notwithstanding, it is a source of a source of superior products, edible, drinkable or otherwise.
|Baltica No. 9.
Perhaps the highest stopping power per rouble spent. One bottle of it in the morning is a
step into the unknown. Drink it if you want to see the world as Russians
seem to be genetically wired to. Baltica No. 9 concords well with my
Misery Tourism program.
All Baltica beers, others, with possible exception of No. 5, No. 7, and No. 8 (which is good but not for everyone) are plain bad, and Nos. 5 and 7 are way too watery to my taste. Remember that information that makes it to travel guides is a few years old. Baltica was good in the early 90s. Now it seems travel guides just copy one anohter.
Western brand names manufactured in Russia. Stay away from these. Bad alcohol, water from questionable source, a food colour to make it yellow, and come carbon dioxide is pumped in at the end. Buy either proper imported brands, or local beers. Examples: Kozel "brewed" in Kaluga or Warsteiner by the Effes Brewery in Moscow.
Mixing beer and vodka Russian style.
Excessive drinking in the wrong company - and any amount of drinking in the wrong company is excessive, and often leads to trouble.
Aims not at completeness, but
at identifying the best drinking choices in the "decently budget" stratum of
the market. Vodka classification: same as
with beer above. Note
that no valid assessment of an alcoholic beverage can be made till you've
had it in excess, and the evaluation must be postponed till the morning
after. Any sh*t will be OK in moderation but give me a bottle
of vodka that will let you wake up happy and refreshed next morning!
Vodka classification: same as with beer above.
Note that no valid assessment of an alcoholic beverage can be made till you've had it in excess, and the evaluation must be postponed till the morning after. Any sh*t will be OK in moderation but give me a bottle of vodka that will let you wake up happy and refreshed next morning!
|Russian Standard. Presently the brand I
whole-heartedly recommend. Watch out as quality always falls once a product becomes popular.
Parliament. Excellent clean vodka, and a bit cheaper than Rusian Standard, selling at 180 roubles ($7) per bottle.
Better vodkas from Crystal Distillery. Anything made out of class "Lux" ethanol and costing over 160 roubles should be OK. Still, avoid "Gzhelka". Too much mixed in.
Cheaper vodkas from Crystal. 60 rouble stuff ($2) will not poison you. It will not, however, give you the clear-headed feelings good vodkas taken with proper food produce.
Vodkas and liquors from Kashin. The Kashin distillery supplied most of the Tver region, and that's where I have my "dacha". Materials on Kashin products will be added here soon. Make a note of the Old Kashin sweet cream.
Kapitansky, distilled in Vladivostok. Reputable sources at www.bigrussiansoul.org recommend it. Apparently it mixes well.
June 28, 2003. Soaked under cold rain, felt lousy all over and thought it was a good time to see how Kapitansky can help in pulling a Russian soul out of its misery. A disappointment. Too much sugar, too much flavour, makes your brain turn into cotton. Goes down nicely though but IT IS NO RUM AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE CONSUMED IN ANY QUANTITY.
Nizhny Novgorod Extra..... [to be added] Recommended by knowledgeable sources. I also recall drinking in Nizhny and feeling good about life and everything, back in 95-97.
Crystal vodka bottling operation, best known in the west and locally. Located in Lefortovo by the Yauza river on Ul. Samokatnaya that translates as "Push-cycle street". Insider sources reveal that..
(White Stork) from Moldova, $7-10 per bottle, is an excellent choice.
Beware of forged stuff. Consume with LOTS of lemon.
Kvint, also from Moldova, is even better than Aist.
Vodka hints and precautions
A monument to Alcoholism in the Bolotnaya Ploshad ("Swamp Square") in Moscow. To me the statue looks more like an appropriate symbol of gluttony, but the label below excludes any ambiguity..
|Drink only vodkas that are based on alcohol of "Lux"
and artesian water. Vodkas made of "Extra" grade alcohol are unpleasant to drink and a prone
to give you a hangover. A good bottle of vodka should cost no less than 180 roubles ($7). While I ran into excellent vodkas for $2 (Vologda brewery is
an example, when a shipment of it somehow made it to Chinese supermarket on
New Arbat in the winter of 2002-3), this was a rare exceptions.
Avoid flavoured vodkas. I have an impression that lower grade material is used to make them. If you insist on flavour, make your own. Pepper, lemon or ashberry-flavoured vodka can be prepared for our accommodation guests on a 4-weeks' notice.
Beware of forged stuff. Cheap vodkas are more likely than expensive ones to be made out of technical ethanol and tap water in a basement factory . Try to get your booze in respectable stores in a big properly run city.
Vodka poisoning is one of the leading causes of death among Russian men. Mostly it is vodkas with high methanol content.
Do not let your vodka drinking uncontrollably slide into an unplanned Misery Tourism episode.
||Russkaya Loza (Russian Grapevine) in 3 liter cartons is both
cheap and good, given the price. Available at British Petroleum stations for 280 roubles
($10). Normally, however, don't expect to get decent wine for less than
$8-10 per bottle.
Mulled wine... coming up
The logo of the Oracle of the Divine Bottle, one of Moscow's most respected jazz clubs. Ovchinnikovskaya Nab., M. Novokuznetskaya.
Drinking establishments in Moscow
Where Russians get drunk. Slum and back alley drinking. Examples of typical low-life drinking establishments.
|A list of establishments where one can have a drink and a
snack and walk out tipsy for 120 roubles ($4) or less.
Vtoroye Dykhaniye (Second Wind) behind Novokuznetskaya Metro Station. I'll describe the character of the place by relating an episode from three years ago. I brought the Skulik dog from my Tver boonies cottage to Moscow for the pooch to expand his horizons. When I return to Moscow I do a round of my favourite establishments, drinking and otherwise. So I tied him to a metal bar outside of the Second Wind window. That was end of winter, about minus 10, very mild for a mutt based on the Caucasian shepherd breed. It was notices that I left the poor doggy out, I was accused of cruelty to animals, and insistently invited to bring him, where he was generously fed.
An unnamed place by the Molodaya Gvardiya (Young Guard) bookstore on Polyanka. On several occasions I witnessed drunken fights and at one time was attacked myself. On another occasion the famous Vovchik of Ryazan was publicly and repeatedly called "behemoth", and then we got arrested for peeing in an empty parking lot at 2 in the morning. That's the place to go if you are looking for thrills. Originally it was intended for factory workers and assorted hoodlums (back in the days when Polyanka was the dumps) but now establishments of this sort seem to be successfully drawing the young the the stylish.
A diminishing list of basement drinking establishments left from the Soviet era will be compiled and posted soon. Sign up for the pub crawl poor Russian style before they all get closed or upgraded.
Resources on the subject
"Vredno" means "not good for you". A site dedicated to drinking, smoking and
other "vredno" habits. Has a database to help you find a drinking buddy.
Museum of Russian Eating and Drinking, Noginsk (Moscow Region) run by the Chernogolovka division of Ost-Alco. Ost-Alco makes everything, from decent middle-of-the-road vodkas to windshield washer fluids. More info at www.ost-group.ru
www.vodkaphiles.com is an example of what happens when you put together a site not because the spirit moves you but as a way to attract traffic to your pointless and boring resource
Yerofeev, V. Moscow - Petushki. A Poem. English translation is available from ... A discussion of this work can be found at ...... In our view the book contains the best discussion to be found anywhere on the existential foundation of drinking. Or perhaps "ontological" is a better term?
Check out www.russianfoods.com for an active vodka forum.
C. S. Walton, Ivan Petrov: Russia Through a Shot Glass. New Orleans: Garrett County Press, 1999. viii + 241 pp. Maps. $12.00 (paper), ISBN 1-891053-83-3. http://www.ialhi.org/news/i0011_16.html
Luc Gougeon, A Lesson in Drinking Vodka A clear and to-the-point article on the vodka-drinking etiquette. Read and apply the advice there or else you risk to majorly annoy your Russian drinking buddies.
Peter Baker, New, Better Brews
Catch on in Russia.. Washington Post Foreign Service, reproduced in
Alcoholics Anonymous Russia http://www.aa-europe.net/countries/russia.htm
More on the subject of hangover cures:
Check out my Misery Tourism pages.
[More resources on Russian drinking and debauchery coming up. Suggestions and contributions are more than welcomed.]
|[replace] Beer is not considered an alcoholic beverage - "Can't fool your head with beer" they say. No no-drinking age, and consumption of beer in public is a norm.|
||The new sobriety fashion.
Photo gallery of Russians drinking
From the author of this site. My favourite drinks. What, how, when, with whom etc. As to with whom, I sincerely recommend drinking not just alone but away from people. Lots of lemon with strong beverages. More later.
Hangover prevention strategies and cures. Personal favourites by the site's owner.
Links to museums dedicated to vodka
Main Index Page
Cheap Accommodation on Moscow
Airport transfers and driving
Tourist village of Mandroki, with a famous vodka and moonshine museum. Also notable for folk arts. http://www.vniief.ru/megagauss/mandrogy.htm [APRIL 09 - PAGE DOES NOT EXIST] Russian only for now but I'll soon be offering to translate their page into English in exchange for them featuring links to me.
Tumen Regional History Museum has a section on moonshine. See http://www.ikz.ru/siberianway/tokm/index.php Again, no English version at the the moment (end of October 2005).
Vodka Museum of St. Petersburg. The most serious establishment of that sort. English page: http://www.vodkamuseum.ru/english/