They said ‘You should go, you should go,’ they said ‘you should definitely go there!’. They insisted, trembled, rolled their eyes. So I went there. A dark, boudoir, noir basement with poker tables and heavy velvet curtains. Everywhere are either tail coats, or night dresses. The menu is laid out into playing cards a la taro. Drinks are terrific. – Well, how do you like the Kabinet bar? – A one-time thing. And that’s why.
Category: Saint Petersburg bars
This is the city of eternal mold, the city of fossilized vodka color, city of gray stone, dirty bricks, flooded with rains that bring no freshness, surrounded by endless embankments, connected by melancholic bridges. Surprisingly, there’s a place in this city for a very sunny, childishly joyful, vibrant, dazzlingly happy Portuguese charm. I’m talking about a small bar – Tawny Bar – that occupies a modest, but lovely tiny space in-between two buildings on the Fontanka, on the left of the Golitsyn loft, close to Sakhinkle Kazbegi with the similar hospitable attitude.
When I suddenly desperately need to go to Tel Aviv, not even for business matters or even for the sea, but for the sake of feeling something very special and elusive, looping between tables on Dizengoff or Rothschild streets, to hear the roar of cheerful voices, to see the already recognizable inscriptions in Hebrew, when suddenly you want to sit on the pavement, while holding a pita with sabiakh with both of your hands, but when you have only enough money for a ticket to St. Petersburg, I rush straight to Rubinstein Street to Bekitzer.
Georgian restaurants are no strangers to anyone. They grow everywhere, and at best, they always serve delicious food, at worst the owners’ hospitality is poured into supposedly sincere singing of variety hits from the 90’s and 00’s. But you can’t compare all of this to the moment, when the soul of the people, their cuisine, becomes connected with the soul, especially St. Petersburg’s soul, and they open the place that even Georgia itself lacks. Ladies and gentlemen, Khinkali restaurant Kazbegi, hamarjoba!
‘Are you saying you just had two large balconies facing each other, made enclosed spaces in each of them, bridged them and voilà! – you have a bar? How is it even possible?’. I have long tried to explain what Do Immigration looks like, but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter. Any kind of alignment is possible in Petersburg, and it seems it’s time to get used to it. Do Immigration is a place of strength, power, and not only for those who obsessed with wine, but also for all adepts of St. Petersburg’s spleen, Oz. romance and marginal bars.
It’s been 123 weeks. Petersburg has been washed with a few medium-long rains and hit the sunny side. White nights are deceptive: they call you out for a walk, but you give up quickly and dive into semi-dark bars with ease and then it’s hard to get out of them. In El Copitas, it’s dark and they only take cash. If not for this, I would have stayed in the city for one week longer, so it would be 124 weeks.
I’m crying over spilt milk: How could have I planned my trip to St. Petersburg without putting neither El Copitas, nor MBS (Moscow Bar Show – please, don’t ask me why it’s held in St. Petersburg) on my to-do list, it could be hard doing so even on purpose. And the guys have a real helter-skelter there – an entire symposium of the bar industry with tastings rooms, master classes, an exchange of experience and a bunch of stuff. But I will give my due, at least mentally, to one of the exhibitors – a unique and wonderful Social Club, located in the building with the five corners from a postcard.
Imagine that you are in St. Petersburg. Imagine that there are so many places in the city that, by no stretch of the imagination, you can be able to spend a frugal night with a glass of wine, that your feet will rip you off the chair and will carry you by drinking routes in thinkable and unthinkable directions. And then after the fifth bar and McDonald’s, at four thirty in the morning you, guided by good people, go by feel of St. Petersburg’s backstreets in an absolute certainty that things are heading towards the end, that ‘now we just gonna hop to one fella and get what we need, and then we gonna go home.’ This is how you get into the Kreutz Flat.
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.
I lived in St. Petersburg for five years and can’t say that those years were easy or that I’ve been in love with St. Petersburg with all my heart since then. But there is one thing in life that I’m proud of, and it’s just connected with this city. Namely, A room and a half bar. No, I wasn’t involved in its opening, and no, I didn’t work there either. I just proposed the name that now decorates the doors of this wonderful place.