Rasputin Vodka Bar

Remember in Sex & The City when Samantha Jones makes Smith Jerrod, her young piece of manmeat, the "Absolut Hunk" - the naked model in an Absolut vodka ad? He's not sure it's doing anything for his acting career until a bunch of smitten gay men recognize him in a bar. "First come the gays," explains Samantha, "then the girls, then the industry!"

I mention it to make a simile. I went to Rasputin Vodka Bar the other day and the first two customers were me and an artsy-looking fellow in black-rimmed glasses and blazer who also wanted to quiz the bartender on the drinks list, the hours, and the kind of crowd the bar attracts. First come the bloggers, I thought to myself. This must be a sign that this bar is about to explode in popularity.

Of course, Rasputin Vodka Bar is no mere starlet. Like Smith Jerrod, Rasputin has all the right kind of aesthetics behind the vodka, and has already been attracting crowds of professionals out to impress and young people out to party since it opened in 2008. ("More of a clubbing crowd," the bartender tells the gentleman in glasses.)

A deceptively small-looking space from the street, you could almost miss it but for the giant "Stoli" scrawled across the window. Inside, the bar unfolds with plenty of space to bend at the elbows, from the dark, elegant bar at the front to the rather stately lounge area at the back. There's a patrician feel to the velvety stuffed armchairs and button-tufted damask sofas, but the upright piano and crowded gallery of dour-looking portraits lend the homier, more gregarious feel you might expect of a Slavic watering hole.

On Friday and Saturday nights, a live DJ spins and things get gregarious indeed. During the week, it's Happy Hour until 11pm with $3 drinks from the bar rail and $5.99 martinis. There's a menu of cheese and meat platters, olives, herrings, and other deli-style fare to suit the dozens and dozens of available vodkas. If you can't choose one, the "Vodka Testing" option on the menu includes 3 shots of vodka served with Russian rye and pickles.

Bottle service is available for those with $160-$200 to spend and a liver that just won't quit. On Saturdays, the price is lower, in the $110-$150 range. This might be a good choice for a large group, which Rasputin happily accepts. There's a slightly more sophisticated menu for groups of six or more as well, but it must be ordered in advance by calling the bar or visiting their website.

The bar's theme is nothing if not thorough, with serving staff decked out in Soviet army caps and a life-size poster of Rasputin, the man himself, greeting you at the front door (with a pair of... giant metal testicles?) Get the full experience yourself, now, before word gets out on the blogosphere and there's nowhere left to sit down.

Writing by Jessica McGann

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