Museum of Russian vodka in Saint-Petersburg

Museum of Russian vodka in Saint-Petersburg (Russian Vodka Museum).

Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg

Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg is considered the first exhibition in Russia, fully devoted to the traditional national vodka. Despite its modest age by the standards of the Northern Capital, the site has already gained high prestige among museums: distinguished guests come here regularly, the collection is constantly enhanced. Interactive format of the excursions attracts more and more people who are interested not only in alcoholic beverages but in history and culture of their own country.

Rules of visiting the museum are strictly regulated. On excursion programs with tasting persons under 18 years old are not allowed, also it is necessary to clarify the possibility of visiting the halls of underage guests accompanied by their parents. Opening hours may change and depend on the restaurant where the exposition is located – if a banquet is being held there on a particular day, access to the museum is closed.

Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg

Prices and working hours of the Museum of Russian Vodka

As of 2022 the prices for visiting the exposition are as follows:

  • Self-guided tour – 200 rubles ;
  • Independent viewing with tasting of 3 kinds of the drink – 450 rubles;
  • Tasting of 3 kinds of vodka with a tour – 500 rubles;
  • Additional three drinks – 250 rubles;
  • Rent of audio guide – 300 rubles .
  • Guide services – 450 rubles .
  • Excursion in English for foreign citizens – 600 rubles.

The museum works every day from 12:00 to 19:00, if a visitor books a table in the restaurant – access to the halls is extended until 22:00, but the possibility of excursion to be negotiated in advance.

Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg

History

It is not known precisely when the drink was invented, but the first mention of vodka can be found in studies of ancient Russia. Alcohol already then became a symbol of Slavic hospitality, and a man who did not know how to drink properly was considered a stranger. It was from the pre-Christian depth of the centuries came the tradition of heady celebrations, and excessive fun was condemned, but at the same time, no vodka was ever mentioned – the word itself entered the Russian people’s everyday life much later.

The official date is 1500, when the monks of the Chudov Monastery in Moscow were the first to come up with a primitive process of distillation on brogue. As a counterbalance, as it should be, there is the “western” theory, which states that the drink was brought to Russian land by Genoese merchants at about the same time. The hypothesis is based on the oldest annalistic references to grape spirit, which the priests used not only for distilling, but also for producing medicinal potions.

The origin of the word “vodka”, contrary to popular misconception, has never been popular. Moreover, it was regulated by a special decree of Empress Elizaveta Petrovna of June 8, 1751. Before that date there were two popular names – “semi-gar” and “bread wine”, because the process of smoking the drink was closer to modern moonshine. It was vaporized under pressure from the nalewka on rye flour, wheat was a very expensive cereal, which at that time could not be transferred “in vain”.

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Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg

Another popular myth is associated with the name of Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeleev and his famous work “On the Connection of Alcohol with Water. In fact, the scientific interest in this issue was minimal, and the great chemist generally preferred to drink red wine. His research only served as the basis for the bureaucratic process that fixed vodka at the 40% strength standard, which allowed the pre-revolutionary authorities to impose new excise taxes on the production and sale of vodka.

There have also been extremely controversial events in Russian history, one of which is considered to be Gorbachev’s Prohibition on Prohibition. The ban on the sale of strong alcohol led to a new wave of shortages in stores, a sharp increase in counterfeiting, and mass poisonings with moonshine cocktails. In general, the Soviet school of “sobriety societies” has never been successful – a folk tradition cannot be banned, and a culture of drinking, as you know, takes centuries to emerge.

It was this historical approach that provided the basis for the museum, which opened in 2001. It was placed in the former barracks of the Imperial Horse Guards Regiment, in the halls of the restaurant “Rumochnaya № 1”. The date was not chosen by chance. All over the country there were official events, devoted to the 500th anniversary of the national drink. The exhibition is considered the largest in Russia and in the world, despite the fact that it fits into only two halls with bright showcases.

Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg

Russian Vodka Museum exposition

From the very threshold you are offered to walk along “The Great Vodka Way” starting from thematic expositions devoted to the old Russian traditions and ending with up-to-date ones. It’s not always about 40% of the drink – a lot of attention is given to its forerunners – meads, kvass and experiments recorded in the sources, which allowed the first distillers to invent the technology of effective distillation, which is still used in production today.

Then the guests are welcomed by wax figures of historical figures, such as Ivan III and one of the Chudov monks, who told the tsar about the distillation of alcoholic beverages. It is known for certain that already in the XV century alcohol production was taxed by a special tax, which centuries later was transformed into excise duties. The state monopoly was either extended or abolished and the whole complicated process is reflected in the documents, right down to the portraits of the first manufacturers who founded the distilleries.

Particular attention is paid to the Peter and Catherine era. As you know, the first Russian emperor actively struggled with people’s alcoholism. He even introduced a 8-kilogram medal for the most hardened debauchees: it was fastened on the neck and the culprit had to wear the “gift” for a whole week without being able to take it off. Also on display here are examples of propaganda posters and pamphlets, which were constantly published in tsarist newspapers and magazines to show concern for the moral image of the Russian man.

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Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg

The expression “Na zdorovye!” came from the first purpose of vodka – the basis for medicine, © Official site of the Museum of Russian Vodka

The real treasure of the museum is its collection of handmade antique bottles, decanters and corks. While matryoshka dolls with a “surprise” inside are meant to surprise foreigners, the porcelain caps will impress any guest – you can guess the features of famous people, whose image was inspired by the masters, in the caricature faces with flushed noses. The tour guides are sure to tell you about the drinking houses, how their work differed from the usual taverns, taverns and restaurants, of which there have always been many in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Separate showcases are devoted to historical figures and related topics. For example, what kind of alcohol did Nicholas II prefer, and what Georgian mineral waters did Russian aristocracy treat their sick stomachs with. Here you will also find genuine kitchen utensils of the XIX-XX centuries, forged bottle stands, authentic labels and rare cookbooks, which tell you the secrets of keeping drinks and what dishes it is best served with.

The “full version” of the tour ends with a tasting in the second hall, where you can see a recreation of a pre-revolutionary liquor cabinet with tall standing tables, frosted shot glasses and preserved antique parquet. The guests will be instructed about the proper use, will be offered three types of vodka and obligatory snack – herring, caviar or pickle. If desired, you can continue to taste the drinks, moving to the main hall of the restaurant, where you do not have to stand.

Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg

You can buy any bottle from the assortment of the bar for an extra fee, © Official site of the Museum of Russian Vodka

Interesting facts

Struggle for sobriety in Russia has always had a specific character. For example, until 1885 you could buy vodka only at taverns and drinking houses, where you had to drink it right away. “Takeaway” strong alcohol was sold only in large batches of 12.3 liters, which was the volume of a bucket. Around the same time, thanks to the research of Mendeleev, the standard of alcohol strength of 40% was outlined. Prior to that the European measure of 38% was the norm, which was first adopted as a standard in England and Poland.

The optimum temperature for the vodka is +8-10°C. It is when it is cool that you can confidently understand if the production technology is followed. In unscrupulous establishments glasses are served too cold or even warm – so from the visitors hides the poor quality of the product. By the way, vodka has a shelf life, unlike wine – it should be consumed within 12 months from the date of bottling. Otherwise, there is a risk that the drink will spoil, and will be suitable only for technical purposes.

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The legendary front 100 grams have a rich history. It is considered that they entered the official ration of soldiers during the Soviet-Finnish war in 1940. For tankers, due to the harsh physical conditions of combat, the portion was doubled, and the pilots, due to their privileged position, were given more expensive cognac. After the victory over Hitler’s Germany only submarine sailors serving in northern latitudes were left with alcohol in their daily rations.

Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg

Outside Russia, Great Britain was the most successful in vodka production. For example, the Blavod brand is famous all over the world for its black color due to the natural wood dye. Separately, Scotland owns two records at once – here was invented the strongest vodka with alcohol content of 88.8%, and the most expensive brand in the history of mankind – Diva. The cost of elite alcohol on the retail market starts at $5000 for a bottle decorated with precious stones.

Until 1972 in the USSR there were three vodka strengths – 40%, 45% and 56%, until a single forty-degree kind, nicknamed among the people “kolenval” for the label design, remained on sale. It was then that the famous price of 3 rubles 62 kopecks per bottle was established among the people of the older generation, which gave rise to the expression: “To think for three. The Brezhnev price lasted almost nine years, after which there was a sharp increase in price by 2 rubles, which caused a storm of anecdotes and folk art.

Almost simultaneously with St. Petersburg, the Izmailovsky Kremlin presented its own alcohol exposition. The Museum of the History of Vodka in Moscow does not differ much in concept from its northern rival, but here the exhibition format has a slightly different interactivity. For example, on holidays there are thematic tastings with invited “stars” – the look-alikes of historic figures. Who wouldn’t want to have a drink with Lenin or any other famous personality?

Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg

How to get to the Museum of Russian Vodka in St. Petersburg

The tourist spot is situated in a lively tourist spot of Northern capital not far from “Admiralteyskaya” metro station. It is about a kilometer away on foot. The important thing is to exit the hall on the left to Morskaya Morskaya Street and go straight ahead so that St. Isaac’s Cathedral is on your right. From the cathedral turn right into English Embankment, but as soon as you reach the intersection with Konnogvardeisk Boulevard, you need to turn left and walk 150 meters to the museum sign.

Going by ground public transport is even easier. The nearest stop is “Poshtamsky Lane” – a few steps from the main entrance. Go to it by buses number K169 and K306 , or trolleybuses number 5 and 22. It is safer to go from Sennaya Square and get off just after the traffic lights to cross the road at the regulated area.

As for cabs, all popular services – Uber, Yandex and Maxim – work in St. Petersburg with great success for a long time. Ideally, it is better to book a car 10-12 hours before your trip, because the Admiralty district often suffers from traffic jams, regardless of the time of year. The good news is that if you booked well in advance, you’d have a better chance of getting a discount. It is better not to mess with street cab drivers at all – they immediately recognize out-of-town tourists, and the cost of the trip will be comparable to a shuttle to Pulkovo Airport.

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If you are going by car, it is better to follow the coordinates of your navigation device – 59.932617, 30.297481 – so that you don’t get lost in the tangled streets of St. Petersburg. There are two ways to park your car: either enter the courtyard of the museum from Yakubovicha Street, if the parking barrier is open, or park at the Konnogvardeisky Boulevard, across the street from the main entrance. Both parking lots are free for now, the main thing is not to break the signs.

Museum of Russian Vodka

Russian Vodka Museum in Saint Petersburg

The Museum of Russian Vodka in St. Petersburg was opened on October 16, 2008, next to St. Isaac’s Cathedral in an old building where barracks of His Imperial Majesty’s Horse Guards Regiment used to be situated. The Museum of Russian Vodka operates jointly with the Russian Vodka Room No. 1 restaurant.

Russian vodka is considered to be our national drink, no wedding or commemoration can do without it, and many historical events are also connected with it.

During your visit you will learn when this drink appeared, who invented it, what it is made of, and what it’s served with. You will be told how the policy of the authorities regarding drinking changed, and you can buy original souvenirs and gifts.

Opening hours of the Russian Vodka Museum in Saint-Petersburg in 2022

  • Every day from 12:00 to 22:00
  • The Museum may be closed for events. Check the opening hours by phone

Ticket price for the Russian Vodka Museum in Saint-Petersburg in 2022

  • Independent viewing of the museum exposition – 200 rubles
  • Russian or English museum tour (half an hour) with tasting of three sorts of vodka and three traditional Russian snacks – 600 rubles
  • Independent viewing of the exposition and tasting of three kinds of vodka and three traditional Russian snacks – 450 rubles
  • For those who thought it was not enough, additional excursions and tastings are provided

Address

Saint Petersburg, Konnogvardeisky Boulevard 4

How to get to the Museum of Russian Vodka

If you get to the metro station “Admiralteyskaya” then get off on Bolshaya Morskaya street and go in the direction of St. Isaac’s Cathedral, then turn right and walk through Dekabristov Avenue until you reach Konnogvardeisky Boulevard.

Tour and exposition of the museum

There is a collection of more than 1000 exhibits. It includes posters and labels, photos of different times and engravings of portraits of great tsars, princes and emperors, original vessels and kitchen utensils, bottles of famous factories of the 19th century and works of glass and porcelain by famous Russian masters. The composition of three wax figures telling about the stages of the drink’s production in Russia deserves special attention. The exposition shows us that the feast was not just a drink in Russia but a beautiful ritual that took shape way back in the old days.

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During the tour you will be told when and who in Russia got alcohol and how Dmitry Mendeleev found the best ratio of water and alcohol for a drink, how to store it and what to drink.

After touring the exposition, everyone can come into the bright hall that looks like a small vending room of the early 20th century and taste several kinds of liquor and traditional snacks. You will learn about the leading modern wine and liquor producers and buy products in classic and souvenir packaging.

The guests of this unusual museum were many famous music bands, including Rammstein, Supermax and Faithless, as well as the leader of Mashina Vremeni Andrei Makarevich and boxer Alexander Baluyev, actors Fyodor Bondarchuk and Gerard Depardieu, Alexander Domogarov and Elena Safonova, writer and satirist Mikhail Zhvanetsky and many other famous people.

History of Vodka in Russia

Russian vodka appeared in Russia in the early 15th century, when the monks of the Chudov Monastery on the territory of the Moscow Kremlin received bread alcohol. At first it was used to make tinctures and in perfumery. During the plague epidemic it was tried as a medicine. Although as a cure for the plague it proved useless, from the middle of the 15th century it began to be used as a drink, and for a long time it was called bread wine and korchma, indigenous and bitter wine. It was not until the 17th century that this wine became known as vodka.

Under Peter I the propaganda of drunkenness reached the greatest extent and all conditions for drinking were created, because it was necessary to replenish the treasury in order to settle Russia. Later, under Alexander II, Alexander III and Nicholas II, the distillery industry, as one of the most profitable, developed at an accelerated pace. At the beginning of the 20th century, alcoholism became widespread and a ban on the production and sale of vodka was instituted in 1914, which lasted for almost 10 years until Joseph Stalin came to power in 1924. In the following years, under Stalin, vodka production reached one million decaliters per year. With the advent of Gorbachev in 1985, was introduced a dry law, which lasted until 1990.

As it happens in Russia, vodka remains an indispensable product for many people; with it they celebrate holidays, rejoice and celebrate shopping, relieve stress and treat depression.

Phone of Russian Vodka Museum

Official site of Russian Vodka Museum

The Russian Vodka Museum in St. Petersburg tells visitors that the globally acclaimed drink is not a symbol of a holiday or a sad event, but part of the national cultural heritage of the Russian people.

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