A View from the City: Novosibirsk

26 February, 2016

Vladislav Musienko, CEO and barkeeper of Friends cocktail bar, tells Hamish Smith about Novosibirsk's bar scene

Tell us a little about the drinking history of Novosibirsk.

Novosibirsk is the capital of Siberia and the third largest city in Russia, after Moscow and St Petersburg.  Historically, people drank mostly local drinks, such as beer and vodka. The only cocktails they knew were speed mixes such as whisky-cola and maybe Mojito and Long Island Iced Tea.

When did cocktail culture first come about in the city?

The cocktail culture of the city started in 2011 with the opening of the first cocktail bar, Friends. The idea was to show the best of cocktail culture, to switch people from Long Island to Blood & Sand, to show that drinking cocktails is not about getting drunk, it’s about how smart people can educate, communicate and have an amazing time. And, of course, it’s all about bartenders. It is impossible to get a great cocktail, have a great time or run a successful bar without professionals who love their job and do it perfectly.

Who and what are the most influential bartenders and bars?

Since Friends opening cocktails have become a part of big city life. Lots of bars have opened, lots of people have switched to cocktail classics, lots of bartenders have realised they have to work hard to become a pro. Lots of bartenders and barkeepers, such as Simone Caporale, Richard Hunt, Stan Vadrna, Philip Duff, Joerg Meyer, Ian Burrell, Chris Edwardes, Gianfranco Spada, Steve Schneider, Dev Johnson and many more have shared their experience and helped mark Siberia on the world cocktail map.  

What are the bars to visit in Novosibirsk?

Ruby, Twiggy, Grelka, Vorobey and, of course, Friends. 

What’s the future for Novosibirsk’s bar scene?

Cold Siberia was frozen for ages and now it has woken up to show the world how we do it. It’s not about vodka, balalaika and bears. It’s about strong guys with beards, who do respect classics, but have unique nature, products and attitude.

It’s always a hard challenge for people from Novosibirsk to win Russian cocktail competitions and represent his or her country in world cocktail competitions. 

There is Moscow and St Petersburg, but probably, it’s time for Siberia now. Our guys have proved it three times. London and New York are the trendsetters. 

Moscow, Hong Kong, Sidney can do it as well. But Siberia has its own soul, like the whisky producers on Islay, like the winemakers in Burgundy, like the rum lovers in Cuba.

Now we have cocktail culture. Only now with the help of cocktail lovers all over the world, their passion and curiosity, can we show what we’ve got and improve our cocktail  knowledge.

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