It's difficult to choose among all the options the nocturnal Russian capital has to offer. Excluding electronic dance floors, Moscow is rich in unusual places, where Muscovites enjoy exciting and trendy nights, or relaxed lounge bars. Still, do make sure your companion does not turn into a "purple zebra", a side effect of the consumption of daiquiris for F. Scott Fitzgerald's hero in This Side of Paradise.
Trans Siberian Express at City Space
140 meters above the Moskova, picture a flying saucer resting on the roof of a building: this is the City Space. It sits under the glass cupola on the 34th floor of the Swissôtel Krasnye Holmy Moscow, and many bartenders consider it to be the most beautiful bar-restaurant on the planet.
In addition to its striking views on the capital, it delivers - from 6pm to 2am - a breathtaking list of cocktails: molecular or classic, cold or hot. From this high perch, you can hold the Kremlin in the palm of your hand. These days the most popular cocktail is the Trans Siberian Express (vodka, sea buckthorn jam, rosemary, orange, ginger and lime). A pair of binoculars, provided by the bar if necessary, is recommended to fully enjoy the panoramic 360° vista.
City Space Bar & Restaurant
Kosmodamianskaya naberezhnaya, 52/6
Old Fashioned at the Noor Bar
Perfectly located on the lively Tverskaya Street, the Noor Bar serves classic cocktails on its long white-tile countertop, here Martinis and Old Fashioneds are served in vintage glasses. But that's not all: Marat Saddarov, the creative and praiseworthy bartender, reigns over a superb cellar of malt whiskies and rum. Here, the very European atmosphere, favours live music in the evening. Earlier in the day, the refined - but unpretentious - atmosphere fills up the room in a blink at 6pm. The Noor Bar welcomes you until 3am, it is the perfect address for a drink with friends.
Tverskaya ul., 23
Absinthe and jazz at Mendeleev Bar
You will have to cross Lucky Noodles (Chinese takeaway restaurant), and part the heavy velvet curtains to discover the den of the Mendeleev. After a quick face-control - you cannot make bookings - the interminably long cocktail bar will welcome you with open arms, offering multiple alcoves decorated with sofas deep as tombs, some bare walls, the eclectic decoration providing a perfect stage for David Lynch's lighting. A "jazz joint" feel that emphasizes live performance. The cocktails based on absinthe and tea are created by mixologist Roman Milosteviy, who also owns the very popular Chinaya. If you stay late – until 6am Fridays and Saturdays – you will then hear DJ sets. For those who cannot do without, you may download the Mendeleev Bar soundtrack directly on your smartphone.
Petrovka ul., 20/1
Cherry vodka at Café Pouchkine
In addition to the French-Russian fusion cuisine at Café Pouchkine, you may also come to this legendary address, with warm woodwork and French ceilings, to enjoy hot chocolate while humming Nathalie - French singer Gilbert Bécaud's worldwide hit - or a glass of wine or even a classic cocktail. If you like blackcurrant cream and vodka, you will love the Pushkin. If you prefer cherry cream, try the Czar. Moderate consumption inside this beautiful period building will make you feel like a Russian aristocrat from the 19th century.
My own cocktail at Delicatessen
The Delicatessen Bar - ranked among the best in the world - is a ten minute walk from the beautiful Mayakovskaya metro station. Barmen from around the world don't come to admire the typical bistro decoration - with hardwood floor and raw wood - but rather the cocktails designed by mixologist nicknamed "Slava Booze Lankin". In addition to an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of spirits and traditional recipes, the establishment does not hesitate to infuse and distil in house. He will invite you, with the help of a specialist, to create your own mixture. Before going back up to the surface, try out their food, with a classic roast dish, ceviche or pizza. Cherry in the gin, a motley and cosmopolitan crowd enlivens the place in a very relaxed atmosphere.
Sadovaya-Karetnaya ul., 20/ 2