However tenuous it might be, one upside of the recent ruble crash is that it alleviates some of the guilt I have when spending money on something frivolous because everything suddenly costs so much less – in dollars and euros! (Yes I know it makes no mathematical sense because I still make the same ruble salary and actually spending more rubles because of the inflation – but it makes perfect sense in an alternate reality where I play Jedi mind tricks on myself because DOLLARS!)
My favorite frivolity is a delicious specialty cocktail. In Moscow, well-made, and especially original cocktails are not easy to find. Many places are perfectly happy phoning it in with sub-par mojitos, G&Ts and Tom Collins’ that are mostly mixers and ice. By the way, that doesn’t stop them from charging for what is essentially a mid-shelf shot the same amount that you would pay a bottle of liquor at the store.
Which is why I get really excited every time that l discover a proper cocktail bar – like PINCH. My introduction to PINCH came courtesy of the incomparable Jennifer Eremeeva – fellow Moscow blogger (though a proper, famous one), published author and Expert Expat™ (17 years and counting).
PINCH is actually a restaurant – tiny (especially by Moscow standards), cozy and crowded, in a way that would make it seem super popular even if it weren’t. But it is, because it’s just really good. The two things I like most about it are: #2 – friendly, chatty, unpretentious staff that caters to the trendy set; and #1 – their AMAZING craft cocktails.
The list of cocktail ingredients includes lemongrass, black currants and jasmine extract – and the cocktail menu changes all the time. My favorite is Dry Cardamom (photo above on the right) – order it even if it’s not on the menu, and on top of receiving a ridiculously flirty, tangy and refreshing drink, you will also impress the bartender. PINCH is also where I tried my first ever cocktail that involved egg whites (scary!). I just loved the TLC with which the bartender made all other drinks and decided to jump in head-first into Tea Bush: a mix of Bacardi, jasmine, lemon juice, fructose, bitters and egg whites.
Oh, and they make their Bloody Mary’s with rye moonshine! And they don’t skimp on presentation either – I love their glassware, and their food plates are a work of art! Speaking of food, they have desserts made with spicy red peppers, and beer sorbet (seriously, check out their English-language menu)! And for those of you keeping booze-free, PINCH also has delicious pomegranate, hibiscus and basil & lemongrass lemonades – totally virgin. Bottoms up! PINCH is located at Bolshoy Palashevskiy Lane, 2, in the Patriarshiye Prudy (Patriarch’s Ponds) neighborhood in central Moscow. English-friendly.