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PROPAGANDA. It’s right up our street

4 Nov

“If you were hoping for red army choir songs and some washed up KGB puffing on a cuban in the back, try the Lubyanka building next door”

Bouncer, Propaganda Security Staff

“Propaganda is a bit like forced marriage, you get used to it after a while”

My Mum


   Now this is a tricky one. There are these places, every so often, that you inevitably get dragged to    because your friends like them. You hate it the first time. Too smoky, too many people, terrible        music (house music, the worst). Then you return there another freezing winter evening, and you      still hate it, for all the above reasons and because, this time, they make you queue! The third time,    you have to look after your own coat, and you get in the wrong queue at the coat check, the fourth    time, you watch 30minutes of your life trickle down the bathroom sink whilst waiting to relieve          yourself. So there is only one true question to ask yourself:

Am I a masochist?

Going to Propaganda for the TIP team is a bit like being married off for cattle, without the economic windfall. No one wants to be forced into marriage, but maybe, after a few years, a certain bond of resignation and complacency will set in, and the aversion to the original event will be less.

Propaganda is a normal Moscow club, if there actually is such a thing: the sweaty milling club turns into a café with a “bizness lanch” by day. The people who come here are trendy, fashionable, pretty, not rolling in the money by any standard but definitely living above the norm.

It was so crowded, clubbers were requested to raise their arms to let in more women

1000 rubles – 1 mighty hangover?

Drinks and food are well priced according to their website. Any main course goes for 200 – 300 rub, they serves salads, meat, soup, the usual club menu. Grolsch is the most expensive beer on their menu, selling at the measely sum of 180 rub/500ml – you can’t go wrong at that, you can even get a Bochka (500ml) for 120 rub. Vodka-redbull is the usual 250rub and a whiskey-coke, a mere 210rub. There are prices for everybody at Propaganda, the only obstacle are the 150people already blocking your access to the bar. BUT – Don’t be fooled, apparently the prices go up after 11pm, but you probably won’t notice it. As with everybody who goes there, you will wake up the next day and wonder what happened to your cash.

The music will divide the placid of souls – if you like house music, you will love it here. If you think house music is just noise, welcome to the dark side. Dancing can be complicated considering that if you weigh anymore than 35kg you might have trouble fitting through the 3mm gaps that allow the air to circulate between bodies. And if you panic, just follow Jim Morrisson’s best advice and “break on through to the other side.” If not, you may never leave.

The decor? This journalist has never seen Propaganda flaunt its stuff in the daylight – but it’s safe to say that there will be some very unsurprising wooden furniture and a slightly smoky aura surrounding the dancefloor which accomodates these carpentry exploits.

Conclusion: despite harbouring a strong dislike of this club in the beginning, which has progressively waned to simple animosity, this journalist has finally accepted the reality of this situation:

If you are partying on the right end of Myasnitskaya Ulitsa, you will most likely end up in Propaganda.

Sometimes, we just have to accept our fate, dance the alcohol out of our systems, replenish and when we get bored, head next door to Pirogi for a well deserved breakfast and cheesy 90’s music.

Good to know: 

– Loose feis control, but feis control all the same – please don’t wear trainers

– Walk past the line and up to the bouncer speaking English and looking presentable, this usually gets you in. Usually…

– Get there before eleven to enjoy a meal and at the same time, grab a table for the evening!

– Every night has a theme, listings are on their website

– Russian language not required, just lean as for over the counter and yell the name of your drink

– The gender scale is never quite balanced, generally it’s either a majority of girls or majority of guys, good luck!

– There is a gay night – no women allowed – this is on Sunday (we think)

Where: Bolshoi Zlatoustinskiy Pereulok, Dom 7

Metro: Kitai Gorod – 3 minutes

Check them out http://www.propagandamoscow.com/about/

Check out this page for individual impressions and opposing views on Propanda:

http://www.moscow-life.com/drink/pubs_cafes_details/9-Propaganda

For example:

Awesome food, venue, sound system and music. The girls are indescribably hot but they’re all ice maidens. Just go to eat, drink and dance and you’ll have a great time. 

OR

 It’s a club for students I think. If you dont have anything to do, you can visit but it’s a small place and cannot find so much top class girls. You will see lots of small girls who are trying to steal your drink  


***These prices are based on their menu, the TIP doesn’t accept responsibility for erroneous pricing or erroneous judgement.

Booze Bub – the best bar in Moscow?

1 Nov

“There is plenty of room for your pet bear on the bar”

“This is Cheers, just without Woody Harrelson”

Kelsey Grammer

Well, the TIP Review Team are faced with a challenge today, that of writing a review without having to decide whether they like this place or not. The answer is a resounding “yes” and the criticism seems hard to come by! In layman’s terms, this is without a doubt a great place to go for a drink, many drinks, even a whole night out, as the Editor In Chief recently discovered. Upon hearing the name, Booze Bub, the latter was understandably doubtful. This denomination is inevitably as culturally far from the TIP’s point of origin as the North Pole is from the South. This may be the only weakness they have managed to whittle out of the wooden bar that is BB’s.

What to expect: again, wooden furniture (of which Moscow bars have no lack) but a gay array of large comfortable looking tables, adept receivers of the regulars, couples, groups, strangers – minus the lecherous and the dirty. More importantly, BB has an excellent bar, large comfortable, good sturdy stools to receive as many beer lover’s engorged bellies and behinds as could be desired. The counter is large and you can easily catch a little shut-eye without disrupting neither patrons nor staff. A large badger would also fit on there, but they are hard to come by in these parts.

“Where everybody knows your name…

and if they don’t, they soon will”

Ted Danson

What to drink / eat: the TIP staff, despite their now regular appearance in these parts, has only seen the menu on their first trip there. Incidently, this is the only time they had a meal here – generally getting waylaid by the infectious camaraderie which abounds from all corners of the bar. The shashlik was good! and served with a healthy (be it annual) serving of onions. Prices were average, from about 250/300rub. They also serve burgers and, what we can imagine to be the standard Muscovite bar menu. The team have inevitably already made a worthy attempt at trying most of the drinks on offer. You will find good English beers on draught (London Pride, etc) and even cider (many times better than the general flat, insipid half pints we are served in some places). Cocktails have been referred to by independent and anonymous sources as the best in the city thanks to one special member of staff. Cosmos, bloody marys, and pretty much anything you could possibly desire can be arranged.

This is what the bar looks like when it's NOT open

The staff: Well this is definitely the most unusual trait of this bar. Number one, the 3 guys behind the bar are actually helpful, efficient even drole, to a point where the Editor was offered the only cake and candle she saw throughout 3 days of life experience celebration. Cheery cherry strudel which didn’t go amiss on gaining point with the TIP chief. And, yes, if you have been to Booze Bub, you will know The Barman, possibly, oor at least according to rumour, “the best barman in the city” and according to himself, “the best cocktail guy this side of the Pacific.” Every newcomer will inevitably be introduced to all the people holding up the bar by Pete, THE barman, in a loud, yet strangely unintrusive and unquestionably warm way.

Who should come here? At the TIP, we would encourage everybody to stop by and enjoy this place. It’s warm, it’s friendly, it plays good old pop rock, rock, pop, even the Clash! Good grub, good drinks, impeccable service, clean toilets, good music … Can we say anymore?

If you still need convincing, go there now, or leave Moscow

because you probably won’t find any place better that Booze Bub!

———-

And if you already know BB’s, follow the TIP for the forthcoming super exclusive and always politically incorrect interview of 

“Pete, the most famous barman in Moscow?”

For all the info on this bar, drinks, food, etc. check out their website:

http://www.boozebub.ru/

Where? Potapovskii Pereulok, dom 5 – nearest Metro Chistie Prudy (5min walk)

Rolling Stone Bar – and tattoo?

31 Oct

“There are so many stairs in this place, you will leave looking here like a long term heroin addict”

It was to my great surprise that I discovered today, whilst writing this review, that Rolling Stone’s full title is Rolling Stone Bar and Tattoo… And confused I am because upon each visit, it is at least midnight and I have not seen one ounce of bloody drunken flesh, freshly decorated in the most permanent type of way.

This bar covers 2 floors and has a ridiculous amount of stairs. Upon receiving approval by the feisty face control bouncers, one must climb some cement steps to be searched (men only, bags for girls) by some more Russian snow patrol military outfitted bouncers, and then up some more to get to floor 1. As, dear reader, you may imagine, obesity is not tolerated – the bouncers got tired of extracting the enlarged party goers from the never ending stairwells and the rickety wooden steps.

Floor n.1:

The bar with the 70’s and 80’s style music, and a nice change from the house music clubs love so much. Expect to see a wily crowd of Russians and foreigners – decked out in their most casual chic for the men, and leopard print tight fitting dresses and killer heels for the ladies – bogeying down to a mild Michael Jackson remix or that carwash song ~( that goes “oh oh woh oh woh”, you know the one). Just the right amount of people to have a dance, a drink and meet some people who want to talk English. The coat check is behind the bar, look for the queue. The toilets are down past the DJ, right at the back, turn left when you enter and walk straight on, then turn right. It is indeed a big bar – dancing on it appears to be prohibited though. All the more reason to go upstairs!

Floor n.2:

Mission number one find the stairs. Directly behind the stairs you have walked up to enter the building, is the half hidden entrance to Rolling Stone’s most attractive feature. If you make it the 7 flights of stairs to get there, but women do it in heels so it is possible, though the more you drink, the harder it is to navigate the unequal distances between each step.

Upstairs you will be treated to an even bigger expanse of bar, 22 people long queues for the unisex toilets and the most spectacular views of that big church at Kropotkinskaya (Christ Savior my sources tell me, but they are often wrong) and the awesome Peter the Great Statue.

This bar only starts to get going about midnight – 1am, by 3 am, it would be physically impossible to swing a cat, though not illegal. This is where the pretty people come to play. Half way between posh and cool, it is also a big expat nest, from bankers to teachers, the whole spectrum is covered- expect to meet your Russian colleagues here. There is also a mini hotdog stand in the corner near the piano which is indeed functional. To rest your eyes while you queue with fellow sausage lovers, admire the female population which gave Moscow its reputation shake it on the bar or the stage. At the far end of the bar, just below the DJ, is where you can exchange money for sexual favours.

Downstairs bar - before the beautiful people arrive

Food and drink: food is served – vodka/redbulls (large) are about 270rub which is decent. Beers start from about 180rub. Prices in general are average Moscow prices, not cheap and not prohibitive – it is common to leave here at 6am 2,000 – 4,000 rub lighter than when you came in. But the TIP Team can guarantee you that you won’t regret not knowing where they went (a round for 4 people is about 1,000 rub).

And the tattoo parlour? The TIP Team has never stumbled upon the tattoo parlour, which is probably lucky considering their ability to make good decisions when inebriated. If anyone knows where it is – please do not inform the Editor.

Good to know:

Don’t get a taxi outside the door, you WILL spend 3/4 hour trying to get out of that street.

Do turn left when you exit the building and walk along the river for 5min, gypsy cab drivers hang out on the bridge waiting for you. They know what the clientele is so they will not be the cheapest.

Do put on your party dress if you are a girl.

Do put on a polo shirt / shirt and nice jeans if you are a guy – it is common to see men in suits here too.

There is face control, but they generally let us skip the queue when we speak English

Where: metro Kropotkinskaya, 3 Bolotnaya Naberezhnaya, bldg. 1

The TIP Team are not big on clubbing but this club deserves a fair mention, because it is the only one they will actually go to. Check out the Moscow Times review for a review by a more worldly expat.

http://www.themoscowtimes.com/guides/bar/eng/bars/424813.html

Celebrating Milk – with Alcohol Wilkommen to Club Milk

31 Oct

CLUB MILK meets LENINGRAD

“Friday October 28th I saw the REAL Moscow, the one you don’t see in expat bars, the one you don’t even see in Bourbon Street. This was the most authentic experience I have had in this country”

The Jaded Expat

This what it looks like without hundreds of Leningrad fans

Look at the above photo – now put about 3000 throbbing bodies on the dance floor, raise their arms, put some girls on people shoulders, and finally Dachniki by Leningrad – and there you have it. Club Milk is just off the road, behind a large gate. This gate was prised open by heaving masses on the first night of this iconic Russian band’s concert.

Leningrad was this good

“It was f****ing awesome man”

Nikolai Numpervitch

My opinion will and can only be completely biased by sheer awesomeness that Team TIP experienced that night. This is the first time I have seen some many Russians in one place, authentically let their hair down and f****ing go for it. It was punk, it was sweaty, it was real. I can honestly say that Friday October 28th I saw the REAL Moscow, the one you don’t see in expat bars, the one you don’t even see in Bourbon Street. This was the most authentic experience I have had in this country and even Nikolai Numpervitch* admitted that it was “f*****ing awesome man.” This is no small praise from a man who is the living definition of “work hard, party hard”, and generally dislikes everything.

The TIP Editor in Chief spent a majority of her time holding on the the pillar holding up the bar, being small, she discovered that she could hoist herself up by this means to observe the concert rather than the armpits of her fellow concert goers. It is worth remembering this bird’s eye view technique, if you too, arrive last into this club for the concert of the year.

“This is the type of place you put with the (non) service, because, for once, it’s not actually the bar staff’s fault”

The TIP Team

Service – hard to tell – it was justifiably rammed inside, not leaving the bar helped but it still took awhile to get beers. Beers were about 150rub for a half pint – but they were definitely very drinkable and getting them was such a mission that they were a more than perfect remedy to all the energy lost battling the crowds and vying for the attention of the bar staff.

Would TIP recommend this club? Definitely, if there is a concert you want to see – and you are sure this band have enough ecstatic fans to fill the huge dancefloor – get down there – without a doubt!

*Nikolai Numpervitch is not only one of Moscow’s best English teachers, but he is also the grumpiest English twat you could meet – and the TIP’s best critic, of course.

Where? Metro Ulitsa 1905, 7 minute walk – directions on their website, section Kontakti

http://www.milkclub.ru/

Клуб 16 тонн – The pub – not the club

31 Oct

“16 Ton Club is a stone throw away from the metro – literally – if you have a good arm.

Personally it would probably take me 4 spasticated attempts to get there, but the effort would be worth it. “

TIP Special Needs Team

What to expect: a pub, no more no less, but a nice pub and for all intents and purposes 16 Tons pub is an Irish pub according to their website. Comfortable, clean, even a bit fancy, in the most unassuming of ways. It is popular, so on Friday night it was quite busy in a way that validates its quite existence. I could review the décor, but if you have ever been inside a nice pub (you know, the ones that don’t smell like stale beer and urinals), you will know what to expect. Good ventilation system – this is a most noteworthy point, so much so that even I noticed how agreeable the air quality was.

Service: Seated at the bar, service was quick and efficient despite the barmen being run off their feet. Between ordering and receiving a beer, barely 5min of our lives elapsed, nearing our inevitable yet hopefully timely demise. The barmen were not only efficient, but p0lite, spoke some English and were very well presented.

Food and drink: being pre concert drinks, our time there was short but maximised. Lots of beer on tap, and finally a place that advertises Edelweiss and actually has it in stock – acquiring a pint of Edelweiss recently has been quite a mission (see review Chinese Fighter Pilot). Decent selection of beers on draught including stouts, well pulled, with a good head and suitably full which is a nice change from the stingy watery excuses for pints some pubs have on offer (Strongbow from the John Bull pub on Smolenskaya is the embodiment of over priced camel urine you can purchase in this city). Beers on draught are all average Moscow pub price range (180 – 320 rubles). Beer snacks: this pub makes THE BEST ONION RINGS EVER TO BE TASTED ON EARTH! I could be kidding, but I am not a funny person – these are literally gourmet onion rings. Price, about 200rub for a decent plate of them (decent meaning too many to count). This pub is also home to THE STRONGEST GARLIC BREAD IN THE WORLD – again, no joke. Dracula would not venture within 1 mile radius of this bar – but if you have someone who is already committed to going home with you, have a bite, it’s worth the bad breath – if you don’t have to sacrifice the sex for it!

When to go: This place feels like an after work drinks pub, a Sunday afternoon “how did we get home last night” recap with food – and just a generally nice place to sit down and enjoy your hard earned monopoly money.

Where: metro Ulitsa 1905, main exit (the one with the most names on it), turn left, walk through the kiosks, hang a left and look across the road. Or follow this link to see a map

http://www.16tons.ru/

It is worth noting that this place is also a concert club – with a full diary of events going on. Check out their website.

Bourbon Street – naked girls and live bands

19 Oct

Now I have been told The Real Mc Coy is the most depraved nightclub in Moscow… Needless to say the only time I made an attempt to go there, whilst my friends (expats!) were being refused entry, I was negotiating a ride on a horse… at 3am. So there will be no comparison to The Real McCoy. However, what I do know is rock n roll, sleazy bars and dirty music across Europe have been graced with my presence – and now Bourbon Street has too.

“Please do not bring your children here”

Having been there 3 or 4 times, I have only had trouble with Feiscontrol once – where we, very blatantly, weren’t being let in for the simple reason that we were English speakers. There’s a simple way around that though: keep your mouth shut, and look dour. If not, if you look cool enough to be in there, just stand there, no matter how much the bouncer says no and eventually someone more influential might take a liking to you and go over the head of the bouncer.

Inside, it’s small and poky with a little crow’s nest like hangout in the corner – try avoid having to sit there, it’s rather tiny and it involves climbing a wooden ladder. The bar is as long as the building and if you follow it to the end, through the crowded narrow passage, you will get to a stage and to the left, what appears to be a VIP seating area. Although, from experience, it seems to be where the drunk girls dance on the sofas before crashing out.

“Bourbon Street is a bar of 2 diverging philosophies: weeknight / weekend – choose wisely”

Food? Me thinks not, this is a place to go when you have already eaten and have or are ready to start drinking – seriously. On week nights it’s quite calm and not a bad place for a drink and a chat. Weekends : a spiralling sinkhole of depravity, they should have a sign, they probably do: “hanging out is for hippies.” The interior  has nothing of note except a large flatscreen tv which plays photos of the previous nights of drunken savagery, these generally include photos of strippers, boobs and drunk people. Look towards the only window, at the entrance, you will see a pole. If you are lucky, there will be someone dancing on it – last week, a girl stripped off completely, unpaid and unrequested, then proceeded to demonstrate the excellent work of her bikini wax artist. If you are unlucky, someone might simply be dancing on the bar.

Bourbon Street is not comfortable, small wooden tables, small wooden chairs (for a change) a long bar with stools, and a crowded gangway towards an even more crowded and, if possible, even smaller stage… 2 toilets with cowboy saloon doors, unisex as always. Bourbon Street doesn’t care about your comfort, BS is rock n roll, hard music, hot ladies and live blues – if you are looking for something more refined, try Strelka.

Drinks are average, beers about 180rub, vodka about 90rub a shot (russian style 50ml).

Where is it: bottom of Ulitsa Myasnitskaya. Between metro Lubyanka and Kitai Gorod right beside Propaganda, 1min walk from Pirogi, excellent for a salvaging breakfast afterwards.

Жигули – is it a pub? is it a cafeteria? is it a nightclub?

19 Oct

Well actually, originally, it’s a car… And then a beer, and then a place to sell the beer. And they sell it well!

Жигули… I love this place, but I have an inkling that it is a bit like Marmite, you love it or you hate. I cannot possibly conceive that anyone could be indifferent to it.

Жигули is a famous brand of Russian beer, a nicely priced, nice to drink lager. It wouldn’t knock a parrot of its perch but it certainly might make it wobble a bit. And as it so happens, this beer has a bar. And the only suitable description I could come up with, is that:

“Жигули is the Russian version of a pub”

NO, it does not look like a pub, in any manner shape or form. Once you have managed to get through the large heavy glass doors, you will be confronted with panels of old school soviet style photos of happy old men and families sitting around gutting a fish – but larger that life and very cool.

Go straight ahead and you will end up in the most happening nightclub of the 80’s / 90’s, which plays Soviet and Russian pop (always a winner). If you’re lucky, you may stumble into a wedding and be received by nonplussed families who will ply you with drinks until they realise that no one knows you (and then ask you kindly to leave, no guns no bouncers, I promise).

Go left and, behind the panels, you will find the toilets, relatively clean, nothing to write home about, but obviously something to put in your blog.. Beware of the big chunky, nuclear bomb proof doors. I dare you to pull them open more than 20 centimetres.

Go right and you will find my favourite place in the world. Behind the panels you will see a room split in half. To one side, a cafeteria like set up with all the best culinary delights Russia has to offer, pies, pelmeni, soup, herring in a fur coat, cakes, chicken kiev … oh and the potatoes – a definite must have, they are amazing – just the right measure between buttery, salty and perfectly cooked – now coming from an Irish person, this is high praise! I digress, so move along the queue, don’t forget your tray and things at the beginning, and you will get to a mini sushi bar – can’t give any advice, sushi should be left to the sushi bars is my opinion – and just before the till is the “bar”. Well a small space behind which a young Russian man, who will probably continue to flirt shamelessly with the girl at the till until you make a disapproving tutting sound. Go straight to the till anyway, he won’t take orders until you have paid. Choose your beer along the way, bottled Жигули, Жигулиon tap, light, filtered, vodka, the list goes on… It is not extensive but they serve what is in demand – welcome to Russia my friends. You can also buy a selection of typical beer snacks, dried herring, dried squid (worth trying), nachos, any type of fish which is whole and dried and doesn’t require a knife or fork – it is excellent, well at least to watch people eating them, I am not sure I am that courageous just yet.

Seating – enjoy the communal set out of the area, choose a bench along the large expanse of joined table, make some friends (or not) and enjoy the laid back atmosphere. Sit along the windows (which run along the whole front of the building) to watch the furs go by during the winter.

The staff don’t speak English, but you can get by with a few words, like the name of the beer you want and generally pretending to understand and handing a 500rub note at the end, including main course, beer and desert, and beer snacks. Bear in mind a pint of Жигули is only about 100rub.

So why is this place like a pub? The main inhabitants of Жигули are male, they range from businessmen to builders to students, as well as the occasional FSB agent. They play football and ice hockey on the television, and watching Russians getting riled up about sports is as close as you can come to your local back home!

Жигули keeps it simple, food, drink and ash trays. It’s clean and has an effortless style to it. It’s not classy, it’s a pub, sometimes noisy, sometimes serious but it’s always there. If I lived on the Arbat, I know it would be my local.

Word of warning, this place can get quite smoky in the evening so not for the terminally ill, allergic to smoke or people with high standards. It also gets very busy on Fridays after work, send someone early to stake out some territory!

How to get there?  Nestled between the old arbat and the new arbat. New arbat, looks for the little orthodox church beneath the large cement building. Жигули is down the street on the other side of the road. Look for a large television advertising screen (samsung or seimens), and turn down there. It is the first building on your right. From the Old Arbat, coming from Arbatskaya, it is on your right right, about 7min down the Stari Arbat, you will see a really weird Georgian restaurant on the corner with a huge (I mean massive) wine vase Roman style jug thing embedded in a wall, walk up there and it will be on your left. The street is short, you can’t miss it!

Check out their website: http://zhiguli.net/