Although the sun barely sets during St Petersburg’s midsummer ‘White Nights’ that’s no reason not to explore the nightlife. And while it is certainly surreal to find yourself emerging blinking into the hazy light of 2am from one of the city’s cocktail bars; that is no reason to be afraid. Unless you can’t handle your garlic and dill tincture of course.
Alex, master dipsologist at www.foxandbeagle.com, tore himself away from the palaces, churches and tea rooms to discover a burgeoning bar scene that doesn’t just revolve around ice cold vodka shots.
New to the Zhukovskogo party street, Tipplers marked its arrival by closing the street to allow a crane to deliver its four ton solid metal bar top. One of its many uses is as a surface to heat a bitters-soaked Vesuvian rock to infuse the whisky, for their plum and tobacco flavoured Antagonist cocktail.
Beyond the theatrics there is a genuine flair for flavour, and bartenders Igor and Alexey create excellent locally-inspired drinks such as the Zorka Julep with willowherb tea, rose and mint; or the West Indian with homemade spiced rum and thyme syrup.
Location: Ulitsa Zhukovskogo, 17
Opening Hours: seven days, 4pm-6am
Price Range $$
With a name that literally translates to ‘beard bar’ you’d expect Boroda to be a second home for the hipsters of St Petersburg and while you may see a few lurking in the darker corners of this industrial-style bar, there is a refreshing absence of pretension at Alexander Ivanov’s casual venue.
With homemade infusions (including garlic and dill, local buckthorn, and horseradish) and a menu of variations on classic drinks, such as the basil gin smash or the alder-wood smoked old fashioned, this three year old bar is rapidly making a name for itself on the St Petersburg scene.
Across the street from Tipplers, Dead Poets prides itself on its substantial whisky collection (over eighty bottles at the last count) and offers a selection of classic cocktails, or modern variations with subtle twists.
Rockstar barman, Anton (from St Petersburg punk band Last Tanks in Paris) is always happy to chat (provided he’s not away on tour) and can assist with some recommendations. The best seats in the house are at the bar, but if you choose a table there’s always a chance of a game of chess with one of the regulars.
St Pete’s original cocktail bar takes its name from the city’s area code. Popular with locals and tourists alike, you’ll find a laminated menu on the copper bar top that sets out a list of sweet concoctions in infographic style.
Pull up a stool and dive in, there are some young classics among the raunchy names and the trendy staff are happy to indulge off menu requests as well if your palette tends towards the bitter or more balanced. Just don’t ask for a beer – they don’t stock any.
Away from the craft cocktail bars sits the fashionable W Hotel where the emphasis is more likely to be on what you’re wearing than what you’re drinking. The Mix Up bar on the eighth floor serves sweet drinks themed around different base spirits and has stairs to take you up to the large roof terrace with views of the dome of St Isaac’s and the city below.
Ensconce yourself in a booth and wrap yourself in a Veuve Cliquout blanket as the sun dips briefly below the horizon; then try to work out if you have enough roubles left for a nightcap.