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Chainaya. Tea & Cocktails
1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya d.29 str.1, Moscow, Russia
Moscow has come a long way since the famous queues outside MacDonald's. Yep, when the wall came down and the cold thawed, the west was quick to introduce Russia to one of its most celebrated exports, and man, did the Russians want those hamburgers.
Interestingly, the queues in Moscow have shrivelled and in Britain they remain extra large, which suggests the west hasn't learned any lessons, while Moscow is moving things in a more discerning direction. And Chainaya is a flag-bearer of the lesson.
Converted from a teahouse, it lies beneath a Chinese restaurant and smacks of the speakeasies that once gave refuge to New York's imbibing insurgents. It's found at a rather dark and dangerous looking dead end, but once in you'll find a tiny atmospheric space with a bar room for around 20, and other rooms for additional seating.
The bar's design was inspired by old Chinese opium dens where tea was an important ritual. Tea is very different to opium of course, not quite as more-ish, and the big H is ignored here while rituals of the leaf are observed. 'Chai' is Russian for tea and, when it comes to the hot stuff, the bar concentrates on seasonal varieties. Food includes dumplings (think dim-sum), soups and noodles.
The cocktail list is modest, with eight signature drinks and eight classics, but it's ever-changing and a creative list with talented staff reminds all that there's more to Moscow than neat vodka.