She drank a bottle of calvados a day. Everyone prophesized her early death. But she is still alive, and the prophets have long since died.
“The bar was cool and dark, with a smell of spilled gin and cognac – a rooty smell, as of juniper and bread. From the ceiling hung a wooden model of a sailing-ship. The wall behind the bar was faced with copper. The dimmed light from a sconce cast red reflections in it as if some subterranean fire were mirrored there. Of the smaller wrought-iron brackets on the wall only two were lighted – one near Valentin and another by us. They had yellow parchment shades made from old maps and looked like narrow illuminated sections of the world”. Of course, this is not about Sweet & Sour. It is Remarque and his description of a bar only he knew about.
But if I could, I would also write something similar about Sweet & Sour. About the soft light of table lamps, about old-fashioned bar stools, about polished shakers that look as if they were bought at an antique store. About how to start a conversation there, by all means a whisper, how all daytime fuss calms down at this counter, and then it smoothly turns into the drama of black and white cinema. How blues music flows there and how elegantly it fits into the Center for Architecture on Karl Marx Street.
Shortly after opening, Zhenya Amosenok asked ladies to come there only in dresses. And we came, sat at a low table and drank rum or gin, and now if you look at the photos of that time – all in grain and noise, and only silver earrings shine, diamonds blurred, and our open clavicles can discern our best outfits. In Minsk there is perhaps no other bar like Sweet & Sour, where they would absolutely straightly hold the frame and do it with such dignity. The bar has its character, it does not work on Sundays, because this day everyone should spend with family, it is open from 4 pm to 2 am, because one shouldn’t drink before and, more importantly, after.
Sweet & Sour teaches us to be right, but not boring, elegant, but not phony, clean, but not sterile, relaxed, but not drunk. I hope that I will come here in ten years in a knee-length flare dress, I’ll sit on the bar stool, put gloves on the shabby counter, smoke a cigarette, order “Rum Cobbler” and feel really grown-up, the same as this bar – a wise, restrained, always stylish and always desired woman. Probably, that’s why I come here infrequently now – it seems to me that I can not bring here more than I want to get back. And nonetheless – I love it very much, and let it not hide from anyone, this is a real speakeasy in Minsk, which must be found not inside the city, but inside yourself.
Minsk, Karl Marx Str 14
Mon-Sat 4 p.m. – 2 a.m.
Porto Flip – 12 rubles, Rum Cobbler – 11 rubles, Old-Fashioned – 11 rubles
Snacks – cheese, meat plateau, Kalamata olives