Chainaya vs. Delicatessen, for many years now these two bars are fixed on my list when travelling to this buzzing city and every time I am there, both bars surprise with delicious new creation not only in the cocktail world but also the culinary side. I am fortunate to call Konstantin my friend as he and his team have shown be an unforgettable evening so often. I am very proud to feature him on my website.
Konstantin is thirty-one years old, having been born and raised in the city of Perm in the Ural Mountains. At the age of twenty-five he moved to Moscow to study restaurant business management. He had already been actively engaged in sports from a young age, and that is what his life mostly revolved around back then. When he was four years old, he started playing ice hockey, but a series of injuries put a premature end to his first big passion. At the age of fourteen he had to stop playing for good—a devastating blow for him. He had to find new activities to pursue despite his injuries, so he started swimming and jiu-jitsu, among other activities. He only ended up in the bar business by chance, when he was offered a serving job in a restaurant, even though he didn’t really need a job back then. The manager of the restaurant was persistent, though, and kept trying to hire Konstantin, so he eventually decided to give it a try.
In that same restaurant another bartender inspired him to work behind the bar instead of waiting tables. He decided he would like to work in a hotel bar, but no place would hire him without any experience. So he started looking elsewhere and ended up mixing drinks in a night-club. While working there he visited a bartending school and after only a short time graduated. Around the same time, he also enrolled in several competitions. He saw great professional growth from his experience working and competing, something he keeps up today, because according to him, you are never done learning new techniques. There is a constant drive in him to get better at what he does. Eventually, it was time to move on from the nightclub as it was not providing him with what he was after: a cocktail bar where a completely new world would open up for him. The world of tastes, smells, recipes, and also a completely new clientele. Along the lines of the quote: “A cocktail party: a gathering where people mix cocktails and cocktails mix people!” His next stop was Chainaya. Although he could already look back on twelve years’ experience as a bartender, it still seemed to him that everything had just begun.
Chainaya. Tea & Cocktails
For Konstantin it is not about how he sees the bar, but rather how the guests see the place. And what the guests see is a kind of escape. Once you enter, you can hardly believe you are still in Moscow. You are no longer in this buzzing city that never sleeps, but in a place where time actually seems to stop. The little tea house which could just as well be located somewhere deep in rural China helps set the scene, along with small cozy niches where you can chill out. Guests not only enjoy excellent cocktails, but also fantastic teas—with the added benefit that they keep you hydrated and awake for some more drinking, or calm you down after you’ve had a few drinks and are ready for bed. The drinks concept is complemented by excellent Chinese food, which is prepared in a little corner by two Chinese chefs. Often you might enter the place when it is still dark, but the sun rises by the time you leave. Exactly as it should be when you forget time.
Konstantin draws from all kinds of sources when it comes to inspiration. He is a very impressionable person and likes to absorb all that surrounds him. These could be banal things like the weather, or even just a mood he or somebody else is in. However, he points out that traveling is one of the most powerful sources of inspiration.
It is a difficult question for him, which usually goes unanswered: favorite bar, favorite cocktail, or even favorite color—he couldn’t say. Over the past few years he has stopped trying to define just one particular preference. He strongly believes that for every specific occasion or situation a completely different cocktail or bar is the perfect fit. It depends on many factors, such as mood, company, or the concept of the party. Therefore, it is nearly impossible to single out one specific cocktail, but from time to time Konstantin gets attached to one specific drink or style of cocktail. At the moment it is a simultaneously simple yet complex one: The Bee’s Knees, simplicity in three ingredients—gin, honey, and lemon juice. The drink’s complexity and appeal for him comes from how just one variable changes the experience. Work with different gins, different honey, and the Bee’s Knees is a completely different cocktail. If your gin collection is big, it turns into an endless experiment. In general, Konstantin is drawn to simple recipes such as Daiquiri or Pink Gin; it is more interesting to him to play around with these.
Rum Trader in Berlin.
The future of the bar world
In terms of technology, he believes the bar world will become even more similar to professional kitchens in the future. Other aspects will continue to penetrate the bars of tomorrow, too, like new bar concepts and unique architectural designs. We will see more unique concepts—as to what they will look like, however, he’s happy to leave that to the creative minds of this world.
Advice for opening a bar
Nowadays one can realize any idea, so it is important to understand why someone wants to open the bar and for whom. If you cannot answer these two simple questions your bar will turn into a place without a face, without a soul.
While he was not born there, it feels like his home to him, and he does not know any other place that appeals to him like Moscow does. It is a city of limitless opportunities and unique people who move there from all over the world. Here, you can develop your true potential or, indeed, discover that you are not ready for the big game yet.
To start bartending and learn how to make cocktails. All the decisions he took over the last 12 years as a bartender were all the right ones, as he loves what he does and he feels absolutely happy both in the bar and behind it.
Target in life
To realise all his plans and desires, even the most ambitious ones.
Images: © Guillaume Megevand