THE DISH: Yeltsin in Name But Not in Nature
Jimmy Yeltsin Bar // Nevsky Prospekt, 38 // Tel. 938 0338 // Sun-Thurs: 12 p.m. – 1 a.m. Fri-Sat: 12 p.m. – 6 a.m. // Menu in English. Dinner for two with alcohol: 1,680 rubles ($54)
Published: June 21, 2013 (Issue # 1764)
With its impressively long and inventive cocktail list, it’s evident that Jimmy Yeltsin Bar appreciates good alcohol. But any further associations to the former President Boris Yeltsin end here — this new bar is all about attracting a young crowd to its underground space.
Tucked away on the corner of Nevsky Prospekt and Mikhailovskaya Ulitsa, you can easily miss the stairs heading down to the bar if you’re not careful. However, if you’re heading there on a Friday or Saturday night, you’re bound to find a hipster crowd mulling around outside, making it easier to spot.
Once you step down inside, the first thing you notice is white – white walls, white ceiling and white tiled tables with the odd, plain, block colored wall in red or blue. With only potted plants decorating the handful of tables in the four-room bar, the minimalist look feels unfinished, yet at the same time, the white gives the bar a spacious appearance. Already establishing itself as a live music scene and having already hosted a number of European guest DJs, it will be interesting to see how long the décor stays this clean.
As to be expected, the staff are all young and friendly and while casually dressed, the waitresses’ cute, funky floral aprons deserve a special mention. Walking through the front room, past the bar and DJ decks, we found a table in the smaller second room. Once seated, we were handed the extensive drinks menu and, in contrast, the very basic food menu of only 13 items listed in three categories: Burgers, sandwiches and salads. While this was a shock at first, it was actually not a terrible thing — for once, we could quickly decide on what to order: A falafel plate (250 rubles, $8), a Greek salad (250 rubles, $8) and a warm bacon salad with chicken (280 rubles, $9). Other options included a salmon burger (330 rubles, $10.60), doner kebab (220 rubles, $7) or a chicken sandwich (200 rubles, $6.45). However, the time saved on choosing our meal was then spent deciding on drinks.
While the beer and wine options are limited, the bar offers a decent range of whiskey and bourbon which the bar staff are happy to prepare any which way you want. Also on offer are a handful of homemade lemonade mixtures such as cucumber lemonade with elderberry (200 rubles, $6.45) and cherry lemonade with ginger (200 rubles, $6.45). But it was the cocktails we were interested in and the list did not disappoint. Grouped in five sections (vodka, rum, whiskey, tequila and gin), all are priced from 350-400 rubles ($11.30-$12.90). Combinations that caught our eye included the Immortal Julep (gin on three kinds of pepper, chartreuse, sorrel juice, sugar, lemon juice) and the Dark Wall (dark rum, lime, angostura bitter, Frangelico, walnut syrup and egg white). In the end though, we settled on a New York Sour (bourbon, lemon juice, sugar, egg white, angostura bitter, claret) and a Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger juice, lime, angostura bitter, sugar and soda) — both priced at 350 rubles and both worth every ruble. The bar staff know what they are doing here.
On the other hand, it has to be said that the food here is your basic typical cafe/diner food. For the price, it’s good value as the portions are large and satisfying but really, nothing to rave about. While both our salads were simple but tasty, the stand out dish among the three was the falafel plate, which came with a serving of couscous, salad and warm pita bread.
If you’re looking for a place to start on an evening out during these White Nights, Jimmy Yeltsin Bar is a good option as its location is central, the food is cheap and the drinks are excellent. Get there early enough and you can easily find yourself getting comfortable at a table, enjoying conversation with friends. The dance floor in the back room suggests that as the night progresses, the crowd gets larger and the music louder, if that’s your thing as well. A word of warning though, the cocktails go down very easily so if you’re not careful you may find yourself accidentally still there at 6 a.m., busting some moves on their dance floor.