“What to believe in it’s impossible to say”- Suede.
When I arrived in settlement 950, Saint Petersburg in November 2018 I had no idea what lay in store. I thought perhaps another Bangkok style city, in other words over hyped, over visited, cleanliness horrible and well over rated. In advance, everyone told me Saint Petersburg is brilliant. Best friend Rafał Kowalczyk told me if I go there, I’ll never want to live in Poland again. I had to go and see for myself. I was expecting they would all be wrong and I would hate it.
Not only did it live up to the hype but it exceeded it by a long shot. I checked into the Hostel Kino on Pushkinskaya Street and started to explore. As the 950th settlement on the journey, there was no pressure to live up to the 949. Sadly, Saint Petersburg was too good, sifting its way with nonchalant aplomb into the top 20 cities I have ever been in. It didn’t even have to try. And then, the bars came along…
“In a chemical world, in a chemical world, it’s very, very, very cheap.
And I don’t know about you, but they’re putting the holes in, yes, yes” – Damon Albarn (Blur, 1991).
Through a friend I know online, Anna, a Russian lady who I encountered on Instagram through her excellent travels in Poland, I heard about a bar that serves drinks in test tubes. I had asked a few friends based in Saint Petersburg for travel advice in advance, as I often do. Anna’s advice for this bar was truly inspired. I was intrigued and had to visit. A CHEMICAL BAR was about to experience Ulsterczyk (self-styled moniker for a Polish based Northern Irishman).
This bar turned out to be one of the coolest, quirkiest and most fun bars I have ever been in in my life. Without a shadow. It’s simply brilliant. You must visit it when your backpacks strolls through the streets of “Piter”, a nicky barmy name I learnt only during my visit.
“Here’s a truck stop instead of Saint Peters. Yeah yeah yeah yeah ” – Rapid Eye Movement.
Where is Bar Laboratoriya 31?
You don’t have to veer far to find Bar Laboratoriya 31 and it was close to my hostel and also close to Saint Petersburg’s main drag Nevsky Prospekt. A famous street I took my time to visit. Bar Laboratoriya 31 is a basement bar on Ulitsa Gorokhovaya 31 it’s about an 8 minute walk from Nevsky Prospekt.
The staff at Bar Laboratoriya 31
On entrance I am welcomed by a chemist. The staff are dressed like biologists, physicists and chemists. It’s amazing and truly unique! The white cloaks look for a seat for you. It’s so busy that every table is reserved, and it’s easy to know why. But I am placed at the bar which suits me even better!
The menu at Bar Laboratoriya 31, and ordering!
At first I was so impressed by the range of shots and cocktails on the menu. Because I couldn’t choose and mostly because it was all in Russian, I ended up just asking for a green cocktail. Yes, I couldn’t read the menu but here are the menus and the green drink I ordered. It’s the 329 Rubles drink on the lower of the three photos!
The bar also has “normal drinks” like beer or whiskey but trust me nobody was ordering them as you are here for the special drinks, not the common beverages you can get anywhere.
My drink is prepared before my very eyes. It is a minty green cocktail, alcoholic and very very tasty. It looks like a science experiment. Smoke oozes from it as I sip. This place is amazing. This drink is delicious. I’m in love with the bar, the city, the drink.
It has to be one of the coolest bars I have ever been in. 100% I recommend it.
Here are the details of Bar Laboratoriya 31:
Here are some videos from my time drinking from a chemical beaker at Bar Laboratoriya 31: