Moscow has always been considered an opulent destination. Away from the rich history and architecture, a new generation of Muscovites are driving a different kind of experience. Here are the 10 hip bars that won’t break the bank.
The ventures of restauranteur Arkady Novikov’s are always impressively forward looking. Glamorous successes, such as Vogue Café, are a testament to his bold contributions to Moscow’s glitzy drinking scene. Yet, with beer bar Kamchatka, Novikov seems to look to the past, evoking romantic Russia. If you want a taste of a Perestroika-esque Russia, enjoy a drink in the pleasant stolovaya atmosphere. The cafeteria-style interior exudes a retro vibe of post-Soviet nostalgia while the simple menu of traditional fare goes down well with the very reasonably priced beers.
Stepping into spacious cellar of Kitaysky Lyotchk Dzhao-Da (translated as The Chinese Pilot, Jao-Da), you know you are in for a special night. For decades, this venue has refused to sell out to the glitzy glamour of the city center and has kept up its smoky and gritty reputation. As it is very affordable, it attracts a younger group of musicians, artists and students who add to the welcoming, unpretentious atmosphere. Predominantly a music venue, you can stumble upon live performances most days of the week, ranging from Afro Beats nights to underground Russian punk-rock gigs. Alongside this, enjoy a range of Russian beers and wines, while tucking into a laid-back menu of typical Russian soups, salads and blinis.
Since its opening within the ARTPLAY design center, the Fassbinder studio bar has become a multi-genre institution in its own right. As part of the Tasty Project, it remains one of the few bars in Moscow with its own cinema and offers customers a unusual evening experience in the merging of the cafe, bar and films concepts. Alongside this, the bar also runs an eclectic program of events, including art film festivals and weekly jazz nights that draw in young crowds from all over the city. The location itself makes for an interesting visit as the bar occupies a spacious floor of a former secret textiles factory, Manometr.
Gypsy is a spacious establishment with a colorful interior and is located within the former Krasny Oktyabr confectionary factory complex. The bar has a large roof terrace which overlooks the Moscow River and comes with numerous deckchairs and opportunities for lounging. During the day, Gypsy is predominantly a restaurant. In the evenings, locals descend on the island to make the most of the nightlife, with the venue transforming its ceilings with more than 300 disco balls. Considered to be one of the most lively bars in town, this establishment makes for a very memorable night of drinking and dancing with its ‘anything-goes’ attitude.
As the name suggests, the bar caters to all drinkers, but especially fans of wine. Within the modest and cozy atmosphere of I Like Wine, bottles originate from all corners of the globe. It offers everything from a deep Point Noir to a crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Alongside an extensive menu of coffees and alcoholic beverages, the bar also offers tasty breakfasts, available all day long and filling lunches ranging from pizzas to spiced Buffalo wings. At I Like Wine, the owners are clearly in the know on how Muscovites want to eat and drink in a friendly atmosphere and to a tight budget.
Those seeking access to the Mendeleev cocktail bar should enter through the tiny Chinese take-away shop, inconspicuously named ‘Lucky Noodle.’ Walking behind the cash register, visitors should look out for the velvet curtains, before stumbling upon a dark cellar that leads to the entrance of the secret bar. Despite being hidden in a basement, Mendeleev is no longer a secret among Muscovites with a deep thirst for delicious cocktails. The bar is certainly a vibrant place to relax and offers a wide selection of alcoholic concoctions that are sure to get your head spinning. On certain weeknights, jazz concerts and dancing events are also hosted here, attracting a friendly and diverse crowd.
Since its opening in 2007, Solyanka bar has developed a reputation for being one of the hippest indie bars in Moscow. Hidden away in a private mansion, during the day it offers visitors a wide-ranging menu of fusion cuisine, spanning from the Far East to Mexico. Later, it transforms into a magnet for nocturnal city dwellers. Every weekend, internationally renowned DJs show off their skills on the decks to a space featuring weatherworn brick walls, plush second-hand furniture and exposed light bulbs. Although drinks may not be among the very cheapest, the friendly party atmosphere in the heart of the capital will certainly win you over.
Moscow undoubtedly delivers when faced with crowds, yet Strelka bar is among the most confident in its ability to satisfy even the most discerning of palates. It attracts a cool crowd of students, designers and artists. The interior features art deco designs of the 70s and is both comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. Similarly, the cocktail menu is lovingly crafted from locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. Finally, not only is the view across the Moscow river breathtaking, but the diverse program of concerts and club nights proves exactly why this bar continues to be the headquarters of Moscow’s hipster parade.
Tema is considered to be one of the oldest cocktail bars in Moscow and continues to live up to its reputation as one of the best. Its menu is impressive, with more than 150 dizzying concoctions. While you sit back and enjoy experienced bartenders juggle and set their tumblers alight with fireworks, do not forget to sample the adventurous food menu featuring Uzbek national cuisine. The bar is open 24 hours ensuring that time flies by in one of the capital’s most popular watering holes.
Visitors with the patience to wait in line for the lift up to the 12th floor of the Hotel Peking are in store for a magical evening in front of the gleaming Moscow lights. Historically, the Stalinist building was owned by the KGB, yet today it attracts an increasingly bohemian crowd of cocktail sippers. Open daily from 6pm to 6am, Time Out bar offers a breathtaking view of the city and as DJs do not regularly make appearance, those looking for a relaxed bar for a romantic evening or casual drinks with friends will be in luck. During the summer months, the veranda is opened and makes for fantastic photo opportunities, offering the beautiful Moscow cityscape as a backdrop.