My Minsk friend, who now lives in Tel-Aviv, always asks me to give her a tip for a couple of must-go places which she would definitely visit upon her arrival. She zealously monitors every new place that opens – in the meantime there’s plentiful places that open – so sometimes it’s hard to meet the timeline of the weekend without a clear plan.

There are a lot of options to map a barhopping route in Minsk and everything depends on what is included in the plan: drinking, dining and drinking, drinking wine, drinking and dancing, having a fancy drink or whatnot. Let’s start with the places where you can drink for breakfast.

Drinking for breakfast

Well, of course, if you really try, you can drink at all times, including breakfast time. But we’re talking about the places where on the weekend morning you can find the most engaging atmosphere. For instance, it’s incredibly satisfying to take a glass of champagne to a Mediterranean breakfast at Bistro de Luxe (Gorodskoy Val, 10). This opportunity is also open at Royal Oak (Kiseleva, 20), where, by the way, a glass of sparkling wine is brought to you as a compliment. You can also take a glass of wine, or sparkling wine, while enjoying the view of the Upper City at Svobody 4 (Svobody Square, 4): you can generally spend the entire day there, while meeting your friends or just catching sight of the city.

Dining and drinking

If you are looking for a fine and decent dining, go to Feelini, Peresmeshnik, DOM, Tishe Myshi and Simple. Feelini (Internacionalnaya St, 36) – our old-timer – has undergone renovation and has been spruced up. The new menu has been introduced with major on cocktails. In order to feel all the taste, and occasionally take part in the process, be sure to sit at the bar counter.

Feel free to bring your lady to Peresmeshnik (Nemiga, 5), or catch up with girls – ‘fluffy’ cocktails are being sold here like hot cakes. In DOM restaurant (Revolyutsionnaya, 26) you can recharge yourself with nastoykas, and in Tishe Myshi (Pobediteley Ave., 11) you can feast your eyes on the beautiful serving. All four places have an excellent cuisine, so excellent that I advise you to book a table in advance.

The appearance of Simple (Lenin Str., 50) on this list is no accident. It was opened recently, and it offers modern Belarusian cuisine from local products and an excellent selection of wines from around the globe.

Drinking fancy

In case you need to show off or you don’t want to part with your regular luxury life, three cafés are on the table: Café Milano, Grand Café and Café de Paris. It seems to me, Café Milano (Volodarsky Str., 19), is underrated from the bar point of view, but this sensation quickly evaporates once you start ordering drinks from the bartender. Grand Café (Lenin Str., 2) is probably ranks first on the list of ‘premium’ places. Bistro de Luxe loses to Grand Café only by being located as low as the street level. In Grand Café you can enjoy the view at your feet, but be careful with the bartenders, they are so good that it’s quite hard to get away sober from them. In Café de Paris (Karl Marx Str., 8) you feel like you’re in a luxurious castle, but to be precise when you order a drink, otherwise, while you ask for something ‘strong and sweet’, you can get a dry cocktail based on expensive champagne.

If the soul requires velvet and gold, but with more party-ish crowd – go to Bar DelBar (Revolyutsionnaya, 26), it’s trendy and beautiful, sometimes it’s fun, and people dance here.

Drinking and dancing

Frankly, what concerns dancing in Minsk, things are not going very well, and it’s my headache. Personally I think that at the moment the best place is Stirlitz (Oktyabrskaya Str., 23), despite being slightly pretentious, dancing is the best here, but I advise you to come here well after midnight.

In Cherdak Bar (Zybitskaya, 9) dancing happens less often, but DJs play here throughout the weekend, the question is who will start the wave. If you gonna stay in Minsk until Tuesday, you’ll get to hear the good old blues. In Huligan Bar (Oktyabrskaya Str., 16) they throw killer parties, but this place is not to everyone’s taste: uncles and aunts accustomed to sitting comfortably and drinking gracefully, will feel uneasy there, but reckless and young – that’s their very thing.

Just drinking

When you hear the question: ‘Where can I have a drink in Minsk?’ and the answer is ‘At Zybitskaya!’ – don’t let that mislead you. Ok, let it mislead you, but only with an eye for two places: El Pushka (Gertsena,12) – саsa de siesta, a miniature Mexican-Cuban bar with tequila, sangrita, cocktails, close dancing and the coolest and most cheerful atmosphere in the city. On the weekend it’s a challenge to squeeze in there, but a must-try one. The second place, quite the opposite, is Chapsky bar (Zybitskaya, 6), a hideaway for everyone who gets in this street and now knows what to do next: a large selection of beer, port wine, whiskey and always genuine for Minsk live performances of Muse or Oasis that play on the screen.

From there on, it’s close to the excellent classical cocktails in Kurilka Bar (Svobody Square, 23), the bar that was awarded the title ‘the discovery of the year’ by the Barproof Awards. And therefrom you can come aboard the pirate ship with the tiki-king’s cabin on it – straight to the newly made tiki bar Make-Make Tiki King (Revolyutsionnaya, 10) and drink a shot with a pickled octopus. Or go to the haven of informal tattooists, as easy as it could be and still a very heartful bar Karma Room (Komsomolskaya, 14), and drink the best whiskey-cola in the city. If you still have some energy left after this barhopping – go to BarDuck (Gikalo, 5), which by the way will soon move closer to the center. And stay there until the end of the cocktail card.

It is absolutely necessary to honor with your presence one and only Sweet & Sour, which is located at Karl Marx Str., 14, and imbued with its old-fashioned luxury. Go there without any further plans because strolling along the deserted streets of Minsk, after having a couple of cocktails there and thinking about life, is priceless.