Two pints of Sleepy Zombie Ale.

Pubs in Kyiv

Published: March 28, 2017

Kyiv offers a variety of pubs and clubs for nighttime entertainment and meals. Below are three recomended by SRAS students who have previously lived and studied in Kyiv

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Old Bar

Bolshaya Vasilkovskaya 20A

Since I arrived in Kyiv, I’ve been to several clubs, a couple pubs, and who knows how many restaurants that call themselves cafe/bars. This last classification is basically a coffee shop that serves hooch and is a concept that is still strange to me as an American, in whose homeland liquor licenses don’t grow on trees. The point here is that there is no shortage of places to purchase an alcoholic beverage in Kyiv if you so desire. However, there was still one type of boozy establishment that I had yet to find, and it happens to be my favorite — a brewery.

Each time I let my fellow students drag me out for a night on the town I am hopeful we will find one, but alas, most of my fellow students are twenty-something boys, and we always end up in some seedy basement karaoke bar or a nightmarish nightclub. How is that the only woman in amongst them is the one that prefers breweries to clubbing, you may wonder? Well, so do I, but that is neither here nor there.

How could there not be plentiful hip beer bars with microbrews in Kyiv. This is a city where, after looking at my street photos of the place, one of my friends commented “Everyone in Kyiv looks like they’re on their way to a Pavement concert,” That’s still the best way to describe the Portland-esque city. I knew I had to stumble upon one sooner or later. And on one fateful day while on a street photography mission in one of my favorite zones, Plosha Lva Tolstova (Leo Tolstoy Square), stumble I did. Walking past an archway, I couldn’t help but notice a giant illuminated sign that read “Old Bar,” beneath it a smaller one “Old bar, new beer,” Hallelujah. It was my turn to pick a bar.

As soon as I walked inside and saw “Ginger Fox” on the menu, an American Pale Ale brewed with ginger, I knew my intuition about the place had been right. Tasty sounding craft brew AND a clever name? It was the answer to my beer problems, the hip brewery I had been searching for.

For a pretty new place, having opened in September of 2016, I was impressed with both the size of the menu for bottled beers, spanning nearly two pages, and the amount of beers on tap, which, when I was last there, was more than 20. Though I was most impressed with the Ginger Fox, my favorite was the spiced ale, “Dama s Veslom (sleepy zombie),” an amber ale, and the Drinkerbell, something that the bartender called a “dark mild,” what I gathered to mean dark but milder in flavor than say, a stout. Although admittedly, after all the tasteless Heinekens I’ve found myself drinking purely for a lack of options, they all tasted like heaven, I think even in comparison with all the great beers from my home state of Montana I would’ve been pleased.  

With slanted ceilings, dim lighting, two floors, tasteful minimalist decor, and a difficult to describe but undeniably cool vibe, I highly recommend Old Bar those looking for a change of pace from your typical bar scene. With such good beer, the food was almost an afterthought, but they do serve appetizers, salads, and sandwiches. So, if you’re like me, and struggling to find the Pivnii Bari (beer bars), look no further. Old Bar is a great place to start.

 

Druzi Cafe and Bar

Andriivs’kyi descent, 2D

By far one of the most confusing things about Ukrainian cafes to my American self is that each of them seems to be suffering from some sort of identity crisis. Each time I search for a new lunch place in the fashion of a simple coffee shop, where it’s acceptable to sit and do your homework, what I find is a really hip restaurant/bar/cafe, where no one is alone, and not a person in the joint looks as if they would dream of opening their laptop and working. I didn’t exactly find the answer to this problem when I sauntered into Druzi Cafe/Bar. I did however, by mistake, find the most delicious hot alcoholic beverages in Kyiv, a somewhat healthy and satisfying meal, and one of my new favorite places to hang out.

I first tried it when a guide taking me on a tour of the city center, who happened to be a very hip girl with a punk rock haircut, pointed Cafe Druzi out to me as a place where “a lot of cool writers and artists like to hang out.” It would be a quite stretch to apply those words to myself, but hey, I like cool writers and artists. I was in.

The first time I ate there, I made a rookie mistake — I panicked and ordered something random because I could understand and pronounce it. The waitress hadn’t given me enough time with the Ukrainian menu. That something turned out to be a horrifyingly artery clogging bowl of cream soup. Don’t order the «серий суп», or serii soup. Just don’t. Regardless, I liked the place instantly. With plentiful pillows, high ceilings, bicycle tires decorating walls and windows, and an upstairs loft, the vibe is very much a modern, hipster-type hole in the wall. I’ll be honest, I’m from a hipster town infested with similar businesses. My immediate affection for Druzi Cafe/Bar must mean that I miss them.

Because I liked the vibe, I returned a couple days later with a Swiss student who was becoming my consistent lunch friend. This time, we nailed the ordering. I had couscous with roasted pumpkin, chicken, and broccoli. It isn’t Ukrainian cuisine in the slightest, but it was a type of food I have missed dearly since I’ve been here: lean protein and fresh veggies. The dish was reminiscent of my own cooking. At last, I was out of carbohydrate city.

Oli, my lunch friend, gets credit for discovering the bliss of Druzi’s cocktails. He ordered apple punch without noticing they were in the alcoholic hot drinks category. I hadn’t thought of a drink, and just asked for whatever he had chosen. It turned out to be a mug of apple cinnamon delight, with just a touch of, I’m still not sure what kind, of booze. However, beware, they don’t always offer this mysterious beverage, we went back twice in search of it, and no dice. We settled for mulled cider, also delicious, but it’s no apple punch.

Essentially, in the quest to find a quiet place where it’s acceptable to eat alone and do my homework, I stumbled across the opposite. A place that’s really fun to hang out with people and eat well and drink better. For those of us who come from hipster towns, miss our hipster hang outs, and are searching for latter, Druzi Cafe/Bar is perfect. As for me and my homework, I think it’s time for me to find a library.

About the author

Rebekah Welch

Rebekah Welch is a senior at University of Montana in Missoula. She is a double major in Russian and Journalism with an emphasis on photography. She is studying Russian language at NovaMova in Kiev, and am also working for the school as an intern, creating a photoblog. After a semester abroad, she hopes to become fluent enough in Russian that she can work as photojournalist throughout Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Although she loves this area of the world, she has a passion for journalism and will go wherever the story takes her.

Program attended: Challenge Grants

View all posts by: Rebekah Welch