If you’ve heard anything of Russia before, vodka is probably at the top of your list of associated words. It is true that alcohol is an integral part of Russian culture – toasts are an important part of any celebration or holiday. Traditionally, it was a sign of disrespect if you turned down an offer for a drink. Nowadays the rules on this have relaxed, especially in the global metropolis of Moscow.
Nevertheless, spirits are consumed readily, and purchased easily. Russian brands for beer and vodka, as well as local and almost-local wines from Moldova and the Caucasus are quite inexpensive, compared to prices for alcoholic beverages you may be accustomed to. Imported drinks ranging from foreign beers to wine, cognac and whiskey have quite a high mark-up.
In an effort to battle alcoholism and problems with public inebriates, drunk driving, and youth consumption, the minimum purchasing age of 18 is now being enforced fairly strictly in most stores (although you’ll rarely be asked to present identification if you look like you’re probably old enough). Stores are also required to stop selling spirits (other than beer, wine, and light mixed drinks) after 23:00.
Note also that kiosks and stores near city center metro stations and stadiums will not sell beer or alcoholic drinks after soccer and ice-hockey matches until after crowds have dispersed.
Within these restrictions, beer, wine, and spirits are sold at all grocery stores and supermarkets, and many small kiosks. If you’re looking for a good selection of specialized beverages, you also might also want to try the following stores:
- Aromatniy Mir
A popular chain with dozens of locations across Moscow, which offers a large selection of wines.
A retail wine boutique and restaurant with a selection of Gran Cru wines, and a range of wines and spirits imported by one of Russia’s largest import firms. Also operates a wine club with free home delivery.
Bolshoi Savvinsky Pereulok 4
Tel.: +7 (495) 981 15 55
Closest metro: Kievskaya
A smaller store with knowledgeable staff and a good range of price points for wines from around the world. Online ordering is also available (in Russian).
Bolshoi Kozlovskiy Pereulok 11
Tel.: +7 (495) 624-43-17
Closest metro: Krasniye Vorota