Recently the Beachbum was invited to the Moscow Bar Show (pictured above) to help spread Tiki in Russia. On arrival, he discovered that he was a day late and a rouble short: Tiki has already taken root in Russia.
At the show we made the acquaintance of Ignat Samsona, who’s introduced Mai Tais to his clientele at Restaurant Famous in Rostov-On-Don; Yuriy Sokiryan, who’s started a Tiki drink program at the Grand Hotel in Kiev; and Andrii Kosachov, who’s gene-splicing Russo-Tiki drinks in the Ukraine (such as his Russian Kiss, which swirls lemon juice and honey syrup with horseradish and red basil). We also caught up with our pal Alexey Shaposnikov, who told us he’s been teaching Tiki classes to his fellow bartenders in Saint Petersburg. As if that weren’t enough, we learned that Moscow now boasts not one but two Tiki bars, the Aloha and the Kon-Tiki.
We must confess that we failed to visit either of them. “How could this be?” you ask. “You lazy bum, how could you travel halfway around the world and not go to the Tiki bars there?” Well, as it happens, getting halfway around the world is much easier than getting halfway around Moscow.
Russia’s capital is a traffic jam in search of a city. It’s as if Houston fell on top of Los Angeles. On even the shortest cab ride you will encounter ambulances hopscotching through the gridlock to the scene of multiple traffic accidents. Which is puzzling, because traffic rarely flows long enough to enable an accident. Add to this a nine-million-passenger-a-day Metro that makes Tokyo’s seem depopulated, and you have a situation where getting anywhere is a major commitment. Especially for a commitment-phobic сачок (which, the Moscow Times informed us, is us: “сачок is a goof off, loafer or slacker.”)
Not that we had to go far to get a good drink: the Bar Show itself offered lots of them, from Nikka Whiskey ambassador Stanislav Vadrna’s artful swizzles to British barsmith Samantha Fish’s muscular Manhattans. Anton Marychev of Moscow’s fine Time Out Bar (which we did manage to visit) pointed us to the best homegrown show booth, where a local cocktail collective known as the Bartender Brothers conducted a food-pairing demo that proved vodka isn’t all bad — especially when you chase it with oysters and caviar.