Saint Petersburg’s best secret bars

Saint Petersburg is full of watering holes for any taste — from sophisticated cocktail bars to noisy student joints with cheap beer. In some places you need to arrange your visit in advance, speak-easy style. Did you know that Russia used to have prohibition laws in place — just before and during the October Revolution and WWI and then again just before the perestroika.

Prohibition is long gone, so secret bars is a trendy “thing” and not a necessity. Here is our pick of the ones worth checking out.

El Copitas

Hidden away behind an unmarked steel door in the courtyards of Kolokolnaya Ulitsa, El Copitas offers tacos and nachos to complement tequila, mescal (a rare find in Russia) and affordable cocktails of the week. The bar is open only three nights a week and demand a courtesy phone call in advance, or you won’t get past that door.

ADDRESS:

2, Kolokolnaya Ulitsa

TEL.:

+7 812 941-71-68

HOURS:

Thursday–Saturday, 7 PM–2 AM

Big Wine Freaks

Wine enthusiasts (and suppliers) offer wine connoisseurs an extensive range of rare and exclusive wines (biodynamic, anyone?) and champagne at reasonable prices. The menu is on pair, classy and complex – such as braised venison tongue on toast. A phone call is required, and make sure you ask for directions — it’s a small venue at a former factory in a central location, but away from the bustle.

ADDRESS:

3, Instrumentalnaya Ulitsa

TEL.:

+7 921 938-60-63

HOURS:

Tuesday–Saturday, opens at 6 PM

Apotheke Bar

The quaint bar is right in the epicenter of the Dumskaya Ulitsa brash bar scene, but tries to avoid the typical crowd of barflies that this area is notorious for. Look for a door with a red cross, ring the bell and pass the face control. There’s no drink menu — the bartender will mix up whatever you ask him to.

ADDRESS:

1, Ulitsa Lomonosova

TEL,:

+7 931 362-21-61

HOURS:

Opens at 8 PM

Gin Tonic

This small bar, launched and run by experienced bartenders, will surprise you with its exclusive gin collection and DJ sets on Friday and Saturday nights. It doesn’t intentionally hide from customers, but finding it is a quest. Walk into the courtyard by the shawarma joint and if there’s someone smoking by a door – it’s probably the door you are looking for.

ADDRESS:

64, Liteynyi Prospekt

TEL,:

+7 921 870-71-76

HOURS:

6 PM–1 AM

Apteka

A top secret Indian restaurant. It allows people in on a reservation-only basis via a hidden door in the third-floor bathroom of the Biblioteka project. Yes, as strange as it sounds. Tandoori and samosas, signature infusions and cocktails right on Nevsky Prospekt.

ADDRESS:

20, Nevsky Prospekt

TEL,:

+7 931 305-22-77

HOURS:

6 PM–1 AM

Beyond Saint Petersburg – from cave to castle
As awesome as Saint Petersburg is, especially during the white nights, it’s worth it to get out of the city. The imperial residence in Tsarskoe Selo and Petergof’s fountain ensembles are definitely must-see places, but is there life beyond them? If you want to set your foot in less touristy spots, we’ve got a few ideas for a day trip.
Art Cafe Zdes I Seichas
Art Cafe Zdes I Seichas (Here and Now) hosts its guests Saint Petersburg style: with both delicious food and cultural
Beyond Saint Petersburg – from cave to castle
As awesome as Saint Petersburg is, especially during the white nights, it’s worth it to get out of the city. The imperial residence in Tsarskoe Selo and Petergof’s fountain ensembles are definitely must-see places, but is there life beyond them? If you want to set your foot in less touristy spots, we’ve got a few ideas for a day trip.
Art Cafe Zdes I Seichas
Art Cafe Zdes I Seichas (Here and Now) hosts its guests Saint Petersburg style: with both delicious food and cultural
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