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Is any country more defined by its national beverage than Russia? Sure, the Czechs have Pilsner and the French their red wine, but in Russia, vodka isn’t just king – it’s Tsar of the country’s drinking scene. The name itself comes from the Russian word “voda,” or “water” – if that tells you anything about how life-sustaining the spirit is. Rumour has it that locals have been quaffing the stuff since roughly the 9th century – for a time, it was even considered medicinal.
These days, few would argue with the continuing predominance of vodka in Russia, and many still enjoy vodka tastings in the traditional way – gulped as ice-cold shots, with caviar-topped blini on the side. But vodka has also grown up: across St Petersburg many of the most in-demand cocktail bars are finding new ways to (literally) shake up the spirit of choice. From the stylish St Petersburg vodka bar scene to the dedicated Vodka Museum, this is our ultimate St Petersburg vodka tour.
Any good tour of St Petersburg vodka will kick off from the Russian Vodka Room No. 1 and the Vodka Museum. Take note: the name is something of a misnomer – this museum is far from extensive, but after browsing the small collection of artefacts, this will hardly matter. Sign up for a tour, and you’ll find yourself faced with a few snifters of the spirit, alongside a sampling of traditional Russian snacks. See if you can taste the differences amongst the distillations – or simply enjoy yourself before sopping it all up with some hearty, old school grub at the adjacent restaurant.