Russia’s capital of culture is notoriously cosmopolitan. From fashion to food, it’s a city that knows what to cherry pick from the continent and beyond. And St Petersburg’s nightlife scene is where its discerning tastes really come to the fore. From laid-back speakeasy haunts spilling jazz into the early hours to lively tequila bars frequented by in-the-know locals, here are St Petersburg’s nightlife highlights.
One of the joys of a visit to St Petersburg is soaking up the atmosphere of its trendy neighbourhoods and discovering tucked-away local treasures. El Copitas is certainly one such place. You have to call ahead to book, and with no street signage, it’s not exactly easy to find, but once you make it inside in this tiny Mexican-themed cocktail bar with serried ranks of tequila bottles a cheery backdrop, you’ll be glad you made the effort. For a more local flavour, few rival the stark, Soviet feel of Chroniki Bar. Despite the no-frills décor and a snack menu that’s a little heavy on herrings, it’s fun, lively and well-attended by Piter’s cool crowd. As popular is Apotheke Bar, whose understated entrance, marked only by a pharmaceutical cross, belies extravagant interiors and sophisticated cocktails that are beautifully presented.
If tequila, vodka and Old Fashioneds are a little too strong an aperitif, duck into Do Immigration. This cosy but contemporary wine bar pours a small selection of sommelier-recommended Old and New World vintages. Prosto Vino, located in an atmospheric cellar, and Vinnyy Shkaf, a cool step back from Nevsky, take a more local approach. Their thoughtful selection of wines are selected from small Russian producers. Both establishments serve a mix of European and Russian cuisine alongside their wine menus, with the latter offering a great choice of vegetarian dishes.
For jazz, it has to be 48 Chairs. Spilling sultry sounds across the late hours, it turns from restaurant to nightclub as the evening progresses, so be ready to dance once dessert has been cleared away. There are also excellent formal performances at the Jazz Philharmonic Hall, whose lamp-lit tables and smart Art Deco interiors are a nostalgic nod to jazz history. For large-scale commercial concerts, A2 is St Petersburg’s largest live music venue, so look out for touring international acts.
For a full-throttle party that lasts well into the night, take your pick from the noisy, neon establishments lining Dumskaya Street. However, St Petersburg’s nightlife scene offers so much more. For lights, lasers and an endless, crowd-pleasing pulse of electronica, head to Mosaique. Frequented by the beautiful and the damned, it has a smart dress code and is the place to be seen. For a night out that’s a little more intimate, Akakao is housed in what feels like a private apartment, and requires a password to enter, so make sure to call ahead.
Murder, intrigue, crime and punishment… St Petersburg has it all. Those fascinated by the more ghoulish side of history will love these significant spots from fiction, and real life.