The Vodka Museum in St Petersburg

by Elena on November 22, 2011

vodka museum st petersburgThe Vodka Museum might not feature in most top-ten lists of places to visit on a tour of St Petersburg, Russia, but it can be an excellent break from gallery after gallery and statue after statue in some of the more revered sites in the city. Some do, of course, worship their vodka and consider it a true emblem of Russia, other just come to the museum to sample a few of the over two-hundred varieties of vodka on offer and to eat at the quite fabulous restaurant on site.

A Long List of Vodka Varieties

The Vodka Museum amounts to three rooms of artifacts relating to the production and consumption of this favored national beverage throughout history, including ornate goblets and bottles owned by the tsars through the ages, but visitors often just scoot right through to the bar at the end where servers will provide you with recommendations for every palate. The choices range from the outlandishly cheap sub-$3 shots to very high-end vodkas, including the Russian Standard Platinum which is a hit with most parties.

Wonderful Traditional Russian Food, with a French Twist

The food menu is substantial and a perfect accompaniment to those belly-warming shots of vodka and in most cases a party of four can tour the museum, enjoy an entree, main, and dessert, along with three shots of vodka and bar snacks should they still feel peckish, all for less than $200. Arranging your visit with a local, knowledgeable about the best time to visit and advice on the best drinks to choose, means you’ll get even more out of the experience so be sure to ask Ulko Tours about including the museum on your tour of St Petersburg. Visiting the museum is free if you eat in the restaurant but be sure to ask about this prior to paying for a ticket.

Popular choices on the menu include rye bread with herring and onion and the chef’s own take on pancetta, with a beef stroganoff available for those wanting something to line their stomach. Rather than worry about condiments for the tasty food on offer, you can instead play a game of matching cranberry vodka, or horseradish vodka as a whole other kind of ‘sauce’ to accompany your meal. Oddly enough, the horseradish aperitif, whilst smelling quite potent actually has a smooth taste, syrupy almost and if you can get over the oddness of the offering then it could become a favorite tipple.

Learn About Distilled Wine-Making

vodka museum restaurant st petersburgTour guides are on hand to help you wend your way through the museums and be sure to pay attention as the large shots of vodka consumed afterwards will likely make it impossible to concentrate on the history of the stuff. There are plentiful photos lining the walls, and not all of people propping up a bar. Those who enjoy brewing their own wine or beer might start feeling a little more adventurous after a trip here, what with all the paraphernalia around and the place, possibly literally, steeped in the history of vodka. At several points in Russian history a bottle of vodka has served as currency, with Russians paying for small services with the drink rather than devalued currency. Vodka is traditionally served at weddings, funerals, to celebrate the birth of a child, and also to say goodbye before a long trip, so whilst it might not be wise to pencil in the Vodka Museum the night before you fly home it could be a great way to say Au Revoir to St Petersburg.

Souvenirs, (other than a hangover)

Visiting the Vodka Museum in St Petersburg is a great way to round off a day of sightseeing, especially given its proximity to St Isaac’s Cathedral, on Konnogvardeisky Boulevard, which does usually feature on traditional lists of things to do in St Pite’s. Reservations are not normally necessary unless you have a particularly large tour group, and the two large dining rooms allow a degree of privacy as you examine the bouquet of a fragrant vodka distilled by traditional means. Take a look at the souvenirs available at the bar and you might be packing some shot-glasses in your luggage home. Although the horseradish vodka might not be available by the bottle there are plenty of others to choose from if you want to continue ‘sampling’ after your meal is over. Even if you don’t consider yourself a lover of vodka and only have recollections of an unpleasant burning in the throat trying just one of the higher-end drinks will likely change your mind. The Vodka Museum in St Petersburg will certainly impress upon you the rich variety of vodka available and its importance in Russian history, consider it a refreshing break in your tour of St Petersburg landmarks.

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