St Petersburg Cocktail Tale

I tried four different cocktail bars in Saint Petersburg, all ones that were recommended and supposedly good, three were complete duds, one, Apotheke Bar, was a home run.
I found the front door of the Apotheke Bar after a little searching and found it locked, Google promised me it opened at 8pm so I pondered and pondered and eventually noticed a button, pressed said button and heard a voice in Russian, I apologized for my no Russian and the door buzzed and let me in.
The bar is small and wooden, a horseshoe that holds maybe 12 people. Bar, walls and bar all the same wood.
There was only one other patron when I entered, a guy with an unplaceable accent, I overheard him telling the bartender that he was on the night train to Moscow that night and needed a drink or two to help him sleep. We started talking and playing a fun game of Where Did He Get That Accent, he said he was German but had been around.
Me “You spent a lot of time in America”
Him “Yes, a lot”
Me “And not New York or New Jersey”
Him “Correct”
Me “And not California”
Him “Correct”
Me “Ok, let’s go Philadelphia”
Him “Not bad, Pittsburg”
Turns out he’s German but had spent a lot of time in Pittsburg as a teen and also in Holland and the UK, explains the unique idiolect.
He was travelling alone, a similar route and similar path as me, we chatted a bit between us and the bartender (who told me his name, THREE TIMES, dammit). Eventually two younger Russian ladies came in and the four of us had a great evening trading stories.
I went back the next night and it was just myself and the two bartenders, I still can’t remember the head bartender’s name but he was awesome and sweet and a sort of a Russian Beck. That’s him in the top photo background. He knew what a Casino was too.
The other bartender was a Georgian Jew, Illyc (Alec), as goofy and silly as the head bartender was soft and calm, again a really, really nice evening, Russian lessons, history lessons, cocktail lessons, a great feeling walking to the train to Moscow afterwards.
I’m too tired to go through my full ranking system right now…. so Apotheke gets a… 35, sure.

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