I used to have a dream. To live in the city center, on some old beautiful street, with a nice bar on the first floor that would work late into the night. When I moved to Rubinstein Str., which is St. Petersburg’s street full of restaurants, I only knew that Rubinstein Str 23 was Dovlatov’s home, but for a while Flowers bar stayed completely out of my sight. This was the best time I had in St. Petersburg: no need to use public transportation except in case of emergency, Nevsky Prospekt with all the surrounding streets, walking along the Fontanka and bartenders, who make you coffee with lemon without any words.

All my paths went through the Flowers bar that were right next to the archway leading to my yard. I went there straight from the gym to drink my morning coffee or spent sleepless nights there. And the bartender with the most Belarusian second name that I know, Lyashuk, became almost my only friend in Petersburg.

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I do not know the more literary drinking city than Petersburg. There you can find Hemingway Bar, ButerBrodsky, and A Room and a Half, and Blue Pushkin, and Dead Poets. No wonder, the specialty cocktail bar on Rubinstein Street was Dovlatov. Previously, the bar menu was a whole book, now it got thinner, but it didn’t affect neither the quality nor the choice. I used to like that there were a lot of shooters and that there was a tradition of ordering a whole battery of them all at once, that there was a window sill with pillows, a couple of round tables and cozy bar stools.

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Every second Thursday of the month the guys held a bar-quiz – a quiz for which the tables were booked a week in advance, and some teams didn’t miss a single game. I participated only once – in the very first quiz, when we won a bottle of Jameson, we took a whole round of drinks and almost didn’t make any mistake, guessing writers, actors and politicians from the old photos.

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I know people, who like St. Petersburg a lot and dream of living there. I don’t belong to this group, and the whole time I spent living in St. Petersburg became an utter test. But I passed it, in many respects thanks to the places, where you could stay warm and hidden away from the wind blowing from all four corners of the Earth, hidden from a wave of loneliness, which inevitably rolls on you when you are far from close friends.

Rubinstein Street is full of drinking and dining places, they stand almost door-to-door – the Flowers, and Poison, and Fiddlers Green, and Mitte, and Terminal at some point, and many more. But if you are already hanging nearby go drink a Dovlatov cocktail and drink a couple of Oil shooters, for example. Warm up before crossing the Nevsky Prospekt or, particularly, before descending into the gloomy subway.

 

Rubinstein, Str., 23, St. Petersburg,

3.00 p.m. – 2.00 a.m.