Romantic Russia | Valentines' Day | In The Spirit | Cocktails, cocktail recipes, cocktail of the week, cheats tips best cocktails cheats tips, drinks guide, equipment explained, features, bar buzz, links and free cocktail stuff - the definitive guide.
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So – here we are its February already and you’re stuck for ideas of what to do for Valentines’ Day. How about a romantic trip to Russia? Ok we can’t actually physically take you there but how about a few ideas for snuggling up with your other half in a virtual tour in Siberian winter temperatures whilst checking out two of the most romantic cities in Russia?

Moscow – is a stunning city in the sense that it somehow manages to be both beautiful and ugly at the same time. Due to the history of Russia through the ages Moscow has seen so many changes – far too many to cover here!

Of course the irresistible centrepiece of Moscow has to be Red Square (“Krasnaya ploschchad” in Russian) – which is the heart of the city. Its name in fact does not have anything to do with Communism but is derived from the word “krasniy” which is the old Russian word for “beautiful”. Perhaps the most spectacular sight in Red Square is the incredible St Basils Cathedral which was commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to celebrate a battle victory n 1552. Apparently Stalin hated the building because it prevented his troops marching out of Red Square en masse! If St Basils doesn’t appeal – you could always visit the other side of Red Square and see the Kremlin? Failing that – the Westernisation of Moscow since the 1980’s now means that an abundance of expensive designer fashion stores can be found on what used to the be the site of the official State Department Store – just off Red Square. Or if Russian art is your thing – why not visit the Tretyakov Gallery where you can find the largest collection of Russian art in the world – from medieval icons to 20th century Russian artists such as Kandinsky.

Another remarkable Russian city worth a visit is St Petersburg. Founded in 1703 by Peter the Great – it was built to compete with the best European cities of its time and is known as the “Venice of the North”. St Petersburg was home to the Tsars and is a cultural centre which includes the Hermitage Museum – where you can see works by Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Titian, Cézanne, Renoir, El Greco and Sisley to name but a few. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Winter Palace of Catherine the Great which became the official residence of the Tsars. It is easily the largest most opulent palace in the city and is loaded with history. Further “Hermitages” were added to the original Winter Palace by Catherine the Great so that she could be alone with her friends and her paintings.

Following on from our little virtual visit to Russia, our featured cocktails are unashamedly of a Russian theme and so feature the classic Russian cocktail ingredient – vodka.

Vodka distilleries were first built in Russia in the 12th century and by the 16th century – vodka was already being referred to as the “Russian national drink”. Vodka stems from the Russian word “voda” which means water. vodka is distilled from superior winter wheat (rather than lesser grains) and uses the purest, softest, Siberian glacial water before being put through an elaborate double distillation and filtering process resulting in a powerful vodka of unusual smoothness, clarity and flavour. The Russians drink it chilled straight up or on the rocks but it is also the basis for the most superb cocktails – as the following recipes will prove!

Ballet Russe
Ballet Russe

This cocktail could be named in tribute to the famous Russian Ballet company the Bolshoi. It is an elegant concoction of 2 shots of vodka, 3/4 shot of De Kuyper Crème de Cassis and half a shot of lime juice which is sweetened by adding caster sugar.

Katinka
Katinka

This gorgeous cocktail is made from 1.5 shots of vodka, De Kuyper Apricot Brandy and freshly squeezed lime juice. – it has a fruity taste to warm you up.

Moscow Mule
Moscow Mule

Made from vodka, Angostura Bitters, fresh lime juice and topped up with ginger beer – this cocktail will give you the kick of a mule during the cold hard Russian winter. This tastes tangy from the lime – yet sweet from the ginger beer.

Red Army
Red Army

This is a warming and tangy cocktail made from vodka, De Kuyper Triple Sec, Crème de Framboise (raspberry flavoured liqueur), lime juice, sugar syrup. Piquant yet not too sharp.

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Russian Spring Punch

So you’re looking forward to Spring in Russia? What better way than to treat yourself to a luscious Russian Spring Punch cocktail? Made from vodka, De Kuyper
Crème de Cassis
and topped up with champagne – its Vodka meets Kir Royale!! What could be a more luxurious indulgence?

 
 
   
 

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