“Sorry, today we have a private function, only those on the list are allowed in,” said a seasoned bouncer, blocking my way.
I nervously examine myself and my friend: we both styled our hair fashionably and are wearing fancy makeup; we are wearing leather jackets, and my friend is in a skirt and high heels. In other words, we should have no trouble getting past face control to a bar with an average price tag of 500 rubles ($6.8) for a cocktail; this is where the smallest bar in the world is located.
While we are wondering what’s wrong with us, the bouncer - without any questions asked - lets in two other girls in huge sneakers, wide gym pants and glitter under their eyes; both look as if they came here straight from filming a new TikTok video.
Realizing, not without a touch of disappointment, that we were found lacking in the trendiness department, we resort to our last weapon - press cards. Voila! A minute later, we find ourselves in front of doors resembling the entrance to Ollivanders, where Harry Potter bought his first wand. Above two windows, there is a sign with the name of the place, Troyinichok (from the Russian word for “three”); and on the door is a “Closed” sign, meaning that the bar is already full.
According to the rules, only two customers are allowed in the bar at any one time (as well as the bartender), and patrons can’t stay for more than 30 minutes. The bar does not accept reservations: you can only come on Friday or Saturday (it is open only on these days); and you either wait your turn or check out other nearby establishments in the hope that after a while the bar will have free space.
We wait for about 40 minutes, during which other people approach Troynichok and even look through its windows, but do not join the queue, preferring more easily available establishments. Finally, the door opens and two laughing girls emerge from the bar. Hoping for equal fun, we go inside.
Once inside Troynichok, you are greeted by walls with glass mosaics and countless bottles, vintage chandeliers and a radiantly smiling Anton, who was our bartender. What’s missing are a few tables with chatty customers, Latino music and a view of the sea - but then, this is what all of us have been deprived of during the pandemic. To get at least a temporary throwback to our trips abroad, we order Sangria, but everything is not that straightforward:
“I am not a magician, we make cocktails within reason. I can prepare you something similar based on wine,” the bartender says and, having received our consent, begins to jingle bottles and glasses.
Deathly silence sets in, interrupted by the sound of a shaker - we are embarrassed to talk about private matters, knowing that there is a third person present. Meanwhile, the bartender does not know how to keep up a non-existent conversation either. He tells us that for a second week the bar has had hours-long queues of people eager to enter and that we are lucky to have waited so little.
In order to somehow relieve the general tension, I begin to recall when I tried vodka for the first time in my life. By the end of the story, Anton puts down on the counter a clearly sweet cocktail with the aroma of wine, we take a sip and...
“Why the hell would I take out a mortgage here if I want to live in America? And I don't like Russian guys anyway, I want an American one!”, declares my friend, taking the last sip of her cocktail, which, it seemed, we began to drink just a minute ago.
“Well, in that case you will need to marry an American,” I mutter.
"But only for love, I won't sleep with anyone for money!"
“Everything is only for love! Girls, I would never be able to get a mortgage at all since officially my salary is only 20,000 [rubles a month]!”, Anton chips in, sipping water instead of a cocktail.
I look at my watch and realize that almost an hour has passed. And I have absolutely no recollection of how our conversation turned into a typical girls' get-together with drinks in a kitchen somewhere on the outskirts of Moscow. The lack of music and extraneous noise was no longer a problem either: our conversation seemed far more important.
Having paid for our cocktails (700 rubles or $9.59 each), my friend and I slowly wander towards another, equally quiet bar.
On the way we agree that it would be good to open establishments like this at airports and train stations to help passengers while away the time. And that dancing to DJ sets today, and possibly in the coming weeks, no longer seems appealing: so heart-warming our time at Troynichok turned out to be.
If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.
to our newsletter!
Get the week's best stories straight to your inbox