Spirited Traveler: Moscow's love-hate relationship with vodka

Tue Jun 5, 2012 1:03pm EDT
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By Kara Newman

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The iconic tipple in Moscow is of course vodka. It is Russia's national drink. There's even a Vodka Museum in Moscow dedicated to exploring the history of the clear spirit.

And according to trendy young Muscovites, that's precisely where vodka belongs: A museum.

"Among the older generation," says Bek Narzi, chief bartender of Moscow's City Space Bar (cityspacebar.com/), Russian-made vodka is what's in the glass, "generally consumed chilled and neat, chased with food."

"However, the younger generation is pretty much influenced by the West, and prefers whiskey, rum and tequila."

In Moscow's clubs and bars, those spirits are mixed with juice, most often apple, cranberry or cherry. And yet… vodka retains a place at every Moscow bar. Clearly, a thirst for vodka still exists.

At the City Space Bar, on the top floor of the Swissôtel Krasnye Holmy, vodka-based cocktails account for two of the bar's top three best-selling drinks (edged out by the perennially popular Mojito, made with white rum).

Bartender Narzi has made a name for himself with molecular mixology creations such as the "Nano Mary", a Bloody Mary riff made with vodka and a spiced tomato blend, topped with a radish and honey foam.

Narzi's other recommendations for travelers seeking great cocktails include Strelka Bar (here), a favorite with expats.   Continued...