Friday, June 29, 2007

Mappin' Around

Now that I know how to Google Map, the MDBIT steamroller is unstoppable. My first project was on a theme near and dear to my heart: how to get drunk on the relative cheap downtown without drinking antifreeze. (It's good to see we have a sense of humor about things.) Click on the map to take you thurr.

Silver's is a pocket-sized Irish pub a short jig away from the Kremlin. Ruinous half-liter 180-ruble bucket o' Long Island Iced Tea, which is now rumored to be 200 rubles, kick-started most of my relationships in Moscow. Great place to perfect your all-purpose British Commonwealth accent. Forever congested with bleating expats, smoke and one retardedly hot South African (Hi, sugarbutt!). Do NOT try to change the channel from rugby on Friday night, clown.

Oft-overlooked on the drunken warpath is booze 'n' noodles joint Barfly, perhaps Moscow's best kept secret. Criminally bad service — "You waited 30 minutes to tell me you're out of vermouth for my cocktail?! Let me just go hang myself in the bathroom" — is made up for with 99-ruble Harvey Wallbangers. Assemble midnight snacks piecemeal from Moscow-rare ingredients like egg noodles, Shitake mushrooms and "tofu cheese." Barfly is so small, it'll only have a table if you drop by at 6 a.m. Which you should.

Cheese and wine, wine and cheese — what else do you want? Instead of dinner, head to VinoSyr. Bottles of wine start at $15 and cheese plates are, uh, also cheap. Beware: there's really nothing besides wine and cheese. Again, I cannot stress this enough: the best thing about this place is that no one goes there and you can have the whole elongated table to yourself.

The summer of 2007 zeitgeist bar, and it's not that expensive! Fashion designer Denis Simachev is soooo IT right now, as is the bar in his new boutique. Hey look, I already wrote about it. Cocktails start at a not insane 165 rubles, and house cider is 195. Yes, that's a hentai mosaic: black humour is the name of the game here. Fills up with Moscow's weirdest-haired hipsters by dark, so move quick to get a table.

Too poor to be pretentious, FAQ Cafe is bravely artsy low-key egalitarian in a city that hates that shit. So cheaply put together, looks ready to cave in at any moment. Split a bottle of Sovetskoe champagne for only 390 rubles (Wait, hippies, that's a 400% mark-up!). Some of the best people in the world work there, including free-spirit waitresses who take off their shirts. No, really!

Bargain-bin boho bar Gogol was an anomaly on upscale Stoleshnikov, before Simachev Bar came along and freaked everyone out. Big place with lots of lebensraum. Half-liter draft beer for, like, 100 rubles. Bypass the food. Some find the DIY interior and matching clientele DEPRESSING, but it's not as bad as OGI. Above all else, dependable when you've been denied entry everywhere else.

Some say the cocktail was born at Help. They are wrong, but this place does have the city's thickest tome of mixed beverages (starting from 180 rubles). Girls, if he's dating you here he thinks you're cheap, too. Bartenders do wacky tricks, are insolent and hate cheap expats.

Duma. (No, not THAT Duma!) A good-natured club that's terribly hard to find (but now you have a map, yo). Barely gets in on this list in terms of price (150 rubles for cheapest draft beer) but you're also paying for ambiance. Has the power to draw in a bigger Moscow Times/Bloomberg crowd than a Dissenter's March or a Strokes concert.

Last Drop is dank and underground with unreasonably loud music, but nonetheless it's a convenient place to sustain a 4 a.m. second wind of drinking when it's too cold to do it on the street. Prices marked in "droplets," which are actually just the number of rubles.

, 5 Tverskaya Ul (entrance on Nikitsky Bulvar), Metro: Okhotny Ryad; Barfly, 6 Strastnoi Bulvar, Metro: Chekhovskaya, Tel. 209-2779,; VinoSyr, 6 Maly Palashevsky Per., Metro: Pushkinskaya, Tel. 739-1045,; Simachev Bar, 12 Stoleshnikov Per., Metro: Teatralnaya, Tel. 629-8085,; FAQ Cafe, 9 Gazetny Per., Metro Okhotny Ryad, Tel.; Help, 27 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya Ul., Metro: Belorusskaya, Tel. 973-8000,; Gogol, 11 Stoleshnikov Per., Metro: Pushkinskaya, Tel. 514-0944,; Duma, 11 Mokhovaya Ul., Metro: Okhotny Ryad, Tel. 692-1119,; Last Drop, 4 Strastnoi Bulvar, Metor: Pushkinskaya, Tel. 292-7549,

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