Pub dedicated to Hemingway destroyed by Russian shelling in Kharkiv

15 March, 2022

The Old Hem was completely destroyed and two people were killed by Russian shelling on the Eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Monday, according to reports by the Kharkiv prosecutor's office.

Speaking to the BBC, the bar’s owner Kostiantyn Kuts said that there were no staff in the bar at the time and the victims were in apartments above the pub.

The Old Hem had served as a bomb shelter after the Russian army invaded Ukraine on 24 February.

"We did not completely believe in what was happening and hoped that soon the bar would work. But the illusions were destroyed with the first bombs on residential buildings," said Kuts in a statement.

The Old Hem was a popular venue amongst Kharkiv’s young creatives. Dedicated to one of Kuts’ heroes Ernest Hemingway, a statue of the American writer stood at the entrance and the words You’ll Never Drink Alone hung above the bar.

One of its former regulars Yuri, who declined to give their full name, described to the BBC how the Old Hem was culturally important to Kharkiv beyond just a venue for drinking.

"It was one of the first places in Kharkiv to support Maidan publicly with flags and manifestos on the doors," he said referring to the Maidan Uprising that overthrew pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.

"Freedom and democracy combined with cheap beer is why youth loved it I guess," he said.

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.