Moscow Bar Show must have been impressive as it took Hannah a few days to recover enough to send in the next installment of her adventures…
I’d just been poked in the tit by an excitable young chap dressed head to toe in a fluorescent green tracksuit.
He was blissfully drunk and carefree that his unstoppable flow of Russian was falling on deaf and bewildered ears. It was Day Two of the Moscow Bar Show (MBS), good behavior had been teamed by its old friend – getting loose.
Alongside Luis Simoes of the Ritz, BarLifeUK were tasked to judge the shows Best Bar Team competition. The pressure ran high across the bar teams and we were feeling intrepid in the face of judging a competition held in an utterly foreign language. Our interpreter did her best to explain but there was definitely a level of bonkers that was lost in translation.
The production of the competition was lavish, between entrants there were cultural interludes of contemporary dancing in traditional Scottish dress, fencing displays and some heart wringing popular songs (at this point Luis procured a bottle of Maker’s to take the edge off).
Qualifying by video submission only 11 teams had made it through from an initial 40 entrants. We watched their winning videos, each a video postcard of their bar and bartenders, offering a snatch of insight into the cocktail bars of Russia. The competition really brought home the reach of cocktails and bartending in Russia, some of the teams had travelled hundreds and hundreds of miles to get there, the furthest came from Vladivostok, seven days away by train, or a full 24 hours by planes.
Besides the dancing and the costumes throughout the next four hours we witnessed the release of a box of tropical butterflies on presentation of a cocktail (I am fucking afraid of butterflies, did not like), huge slab ice carved with a chainsaw, a team that played Guitar Hero to Black Sabbath (the premise was tenuous at best), a man dressed as a giant bunny (creepy), confetti cannons and a goddam delicious winning drink that came with a cigar on the side which Luis lit up indoors to the mild alarm of the organisers.
After a grueling competition that lasted the whole day and several heats the winners were announced as home-town heroes Mendeleev and after the show we headed to their bar to check it out. Entering through the back of a Chinese noodle shop you take the stairs to a beautiful bar in a stone crypt-like space.
The Best Bar Team seemed to actually be getting the night off however because behind the bar were Erik Lorincz and Aussie boy Tim Phillips, pumping out beautiful drinks to a baying crowd.
Without missing a beat we lined our stomachs and headed to City Space at the top of the Swissôtel skyscraper. With a panoramic view of the city the poignant architectural beauty of Moscow was laid out like a blanket beneath us, so wonderful it caught your breath.
If the backdrop wasn’t grand enough the party certainly was and before long the bar was flooded with the bartending talent of the world who dive-bombed the bar for a photo opportunity, bridging the east, the west and the wester to close another overwhelming day at MBS.