In Korea I had the Wa-Bar, which was taken over by us English teacher-expats. In Port Hardy I had Sporty's which became not only my personal local pub but my coffee house, my restaurant and my club. Here in Mytischi I have yet to find a place. I have been actively searching, however.
On Friday night Wonderpants, Mr. Irish and I went to "The Mustang", a low wooden building with a big neon sign on the main drag in Mytischi. It was very obviously an American-style country & western bar. I had passed by this place many times and was curious to see how far Russians could run with this theme.
Being Russian, they ran all the way.
Immediately inside the big wooden doors there were two covered wagons, the type settlers would circle when the 'injuns attacked. Through another door and down a flight of stairs was the main restaurant, which was done in the theme of a wild-west homesteader's ranch (complete with wooden barrels, hard wooden benches and Colt Peacemaker revolvers hanging on the unsanded wooden walls). On two flat screen TVs Legends of the Fall played on a continuous loop. Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton played over the sound system.
Our waiter was wearing a checkered shirt tucked into tight jeans and a big-buckled belt.
The prices sucked at The Mustang. For some reason Mytischi establishments keep Moscow-centre prices, so we were looking at over 100 roubles per beer. The food was low-quality. I had "ribs" which were meaty enough but un-flavoured and dry as a desert.
Nevertheless we checked out The Mustang and it didn't pass my personal tests as a potential hangout spot.
Last night we went to a pseudo-exclusive club called Barbarella, in the Kitay Gorod section of Moscow. Wonderpants, Ms. Australia and two British girls who I'll call Gem and Ms. Birmingham were with me (rather, I was with them). Tucked down a narrow cobbled street across from an abandoned turn-of-the-century block of flats, this super-trendy bar had feis kontrol at the door (but let us in).
Inside Barbarella the walls were light blue and the lighting was soft and dreamy. A fantastic sound system was blazing house music and mash-ups and I could feel each drum beat as it reverberated through my chest cavity. Dozens of disco balls hung from the ceiling and little dots of light spun across the entire place. A long leather-padded bar took up one side of the joint while low leather sofas and classy tables took up the other. The place was packed with people dressed in their best, that is, lots of cleavage and sparkly, stringy shirts. A small section of the bar, in front of the DJ booth, was reserved for dancing and it was filled with girls shaking their stuff (another reason I love Russia is because the girls here can't dance, so I don't feel bad).
Ms. Australia, Gem and Ms. Birmingham took off to the dance floor after checking their coats while Wonderpants and I bought a round of pints. Four pints of beer cost 1500 roubles (nearly $50)!
I bought the first round and then refused to buy any more at those prices, but I guess they were pretty standard for elitny clubs in the center of Moscow. Wonderpants bought the next round and we joined the girls on the dance floor.
It was a cool, super-exclusive club and we had been let in because Gem knew the DJ, but it was far from being a hangout spot. Not only does it take an hour to get to from Mytischi, but a few drinks a week there would bankrupt me. So I crossed it off my list.
So far the only place I have found that matches most of my criteria for a comfortable local watering hole is Beerokratia near Mytischi train station, where I met Katerina. I've only been there once but it is comfortable, the prices are affordable, it's not too far out of the way (15 minutes on the bus or 100 roubles in a taxi), the service is friendly enough for Russia, and the sausages and saurkraut are fantastic.
I'm keeping my options open, however, and I'm determined to find the right combination of price, ambience, quality and location so that I can have my own personal Cheers here in Russia!