World's Best Bar Crawls
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New York City
What's on tap: A crawl through the city's best Russian bars; epic amounts of vodka
Why it's worth a shot: America's great melting pot has absorbed the drinking traditions of many a countrybut few as robust as Russia's. A crawl through the Big Apple's best Slavic bars weeds out the pretentious and weak-of-liverordering an appletini here will get you banished to Siberia. Plan for a long, steady night of straight vodka, with enough zakuski (snacks, such as smoked meats and pickled vegetables) to keep you from toppling over.
Booze route: Start with a bowl of borscht ($6) and a couple quick nips of the clear stuff at Uncle Vanya on West 54th Street, a homey midtown café with timbered ceilings. Head a few blocks south to Russian Samovar (pictured) on West 52nd Street, site of the infamous first date between Carrie Bradshaw and Aleksandr Petrovsky in Sex and the City. A gulp of the horseradish-infused vodka should cut right through the place's musty mystique. Take your buzz across the street to the more convivial crowd at the Russian Vodka Room, a low-ceilinged piano bar with a serious list of hard-to-find vodkas, before heading downtown to Nolita's Pravda on Lafayette Street, where you can get fancy with cocktails like the Kempinsky fizz (vodka, cassis, lemon juice, ginger ale). If you need a snack, indulge in the Caspian osetra for two. But beware that it costs roughly as much as a flight to St. Petersburg ($780).
Hangover cure: Pull yourself out of bed to detox at the East Village's quirky Russian & Turkish Baths on E. 10th Street. You'll be in good, if rough hands: The masseurs have been beating heavy drinkers (and, recently, in-the-know celebrities such as Colin Farrell and Russell Simmons) back into shape with brooms since 1892. It's got saunas and a bracingly cold pool but not the cleanest locker rooms, so bring your own flip-flops.
Tel: 212 262 0542
Tel: 212 757 0168
Russian Vodka Room
Tel: 212 307 5835
Tel: 212 226 4696
Russian & Turkish Baths
Tel: 212 473 8806