Every capital in Europe has a bar street. In cities like London or Berlin, people and businesses formed them in their neighborhoods, leading to the inevitable gentrification. In Minsk, the most vibrant and famous bar street – Zybitskaya – was carefully planned and built from scratch to be added up to touristic district “Verhniy Gorod”- the Upper Town. In the series of articles, I’d like to introduce you to the bar-hopping opportunities at every bar street in Minsk. Let’s start with the Upper Town.
There are more than 50 bars and restaurants in the Upper Town district, with 30 of them at Zybitskaya Street. All of them compete in capturing your attention, but a nice concept is not enough to survive. I will only mention bars with a great cocktail of management, pricing, service, and a unique secret ingredient, that allows them to survive and prosper for years.
All Belarusian people I’ve ever partied with tend to follow 3 rules when drinking. “Mezhdu pervoi I vtoroi pereryvchik nebolshoi” – proposes that the break between the first and the second shot shouldn’t be too long. “Na hodu ruku ne menyayut” – means that the same person should be pouring drinks for you during the whole evening. “Ne ponizhai gradus” – means that as long as you started drinking something with higher ABV (alcohol content) like shots or cocktails, you shouldn’t downgrade to beers or wines with lower ABV. I will divide the stages for bar-hopping based on that.
You can order a pint in any bar in the Upper Town, but 3 places are especially suitable for that. “Staramiescki Pivavar” is a chain network pub with its own micro-brewery specialized in traditional German and Czech beer styles and cuisine. “Gambrinus" gastropub serves classic beer brands from all over Europe and offers food pairs to each of them. Beer-cap is an underground craft-beer shop with a tap-room. Every week they rotate 10 beers from Belarusian and Russian craft-breweries on a tap. The shop part offers more than 100 bottled beers that you can try while watching some live music concerts in the yard or pairing your beer with snacks like cheese and chips in the tasting room.
Among all the establishments in the Upper Town, only three present themselves as wine bars. Both “Khoroshiy God” (good year) and “Svobody 4” offer more than 40 types of wine and food, relaxing atmosphere, lofty interior, and musical events. “Faust” is a wine-shop, where, after buying one of the 700 wines, you can pay the “cork-tax” and taste it on the spot. They also sell snacks like olives, bruschettas, and cheese by weight.
“Banki-Butylki” (Jars and Bottles) was the first bar on Zybitskaya Street to build their cocktail card around home-made tinctures. I use their “shchavel” shots as a welcoming drink for my guests since 2014. They are served in sets of 4 tiny jars on a miniature pallet. If you’re into tinctures, visit sports bar “4-4-2” and a ruin-pub “Na Dne” (at the bottom) in the same building.
Minsk has less sunny days per year than London. I think this is a reason why bars with themes of southern countries are always full on weekends. Mexican owner of “El Pushka” works at the bar along with the bartenders and serves shots and cocktails based on tequila. In “Na Plyazhe” (at the beach) you can drink a watermelon or pineapple cocktail while sitting in swings or dancing salsa. Jamaican “Zhovanyi Krot” (chewed mole) offers tiki-cocktails and reggae-concerts. It's located on the river side of the same building as "Na Plyazhe".
If you’re planning to get home by public transport, check the schedule of your bus in advance, as the majority of them stop working at around midnight, and there are no night buses. Doors to the metro close at 00:40 and open at 5:30. The Upper Town is a pedestrian zone, so to catch a taxi you need either to get to the “Nemiga Metro Station" bus stop or Internatsionalnaya Street. Taxis called from Zybitskaya Street usually are coming to the crossing of Internatsionalnaya and Zybitskaya Street, behind the car barrier. It also applies to Uber or local Yandex taxi as well.
I’ve mentioned 12 bars in different categories. But there is around 50 to choose from. Start your bar-hopping in the Minsk Upper Town and discover your new favorite bars, meet people, dance and enjoy your night out! P.S. Please, mind hydration: ask for a glass of water after every drink you take. You’ll be thankful for this advice in the morning. P.P.S. On Mondays and Tuesdays, half of the bars in the Upper Town are closed.
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