Arina Nikolskaya. MBS 2019, Russian culture ambassadors, localism and dead trends Arina Nikolskaya. MBS 2019, Russian culture ambassadors, localism and dead trends

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Arina Nikolskaya. MBS 2019, Russian culture ambassadors, localism and dead trends

Arina Nikolskaya, MBS 2019, bar culture

This post is also available in: Русский (Russian)

MBS 2019 traditionally will take place in Saint-Petersburg. At this time at Street Art Museum. Arts and bartending – a Molotov cocktail mix. From the 3rd to the 5th of September the city fills up with flamboyant personalities, confirming its status of the “Bar Capital of Russia”. Read more about the the coming event at our article Moscow Bar Show 2019. Meanwhile we talk to Arina Nikolskaya – one of top (and beautiful) woman of Russian bar industry. The first part of the interview was about global situation, and now it’s time to talk about Russian perspectives in bar industry. Let’s go!  

vodka, russian cuisine

Mysterious Russia

We’ve talked about global market, let’s turn to national. What is the main difference? 

  • Limited number of brands.
  • Small local budgets, unlike big international.
  • Small markets. For example, Suze in Russia is just one wagon for the huge country. In tiny Europe – 100 wagons.
  • Complex problem with pricing. Goods traded in Europe as budget brands come to Russia for the prices of high-end market. As a result far not every bar can afford to use this drinks as basics in their cocktail card. This is the reason for a small demand.

What challenges do you see for contemporary Russian bartending? 

Besides financial problems, we meet a great number of obstacles comparing to the rest of the global bar industry. Russian bar community is slightly stigmatized due to the informational vacuum of the last 100 years. 

International community has no idea, what really happens in our country – and this brings a number of prejudices and legends. Communication and understanding is 3 points out of 10. So our goal is to tell about abilities of Russian bartending. And moreover – to disrupt stereotypes established in the minds all over the world.  

matryoshka, cocktail, Russia

Yes we remember, that idea was based under the concept of the last year. How was that? 

  • Goal: to bring Russia to international level.
  • Problem: prejudices, misunderstanding, myths and fears of U.S.A., thrones of the global community. 
  • Reasons: misunderstanding due to the mysteriosity of local community, uncommon traditions and peculiarities. As well as absence of common tongue with representatives of global market, able to explain differences. 

Read more about the last year experience at our article Moscow bar show 2018. Myths busters.

What industry looks like

We really wanted to show what industry looks like. And still we hope to make cross-cultural communication happen. For this we have to uncrown myths and find more about each other, being out of stereotypes and in the context of contemporary world. 

That’s why we ask our international speakers to dwell on professional topics and on common themes as well. Where are they from, what stereotypes do they meet in their world, what difficulties they face in their international practice? And we tell our story. About the flourishing Western cocktail culture, and ours “everything is bad, let’s drink vodka”. Actually, our culture does not promote. Promotion get Hemingway and basts. And barmen support it too. For example a cocktail serve with matreshka.   

bicycle, flowers, alco-art

About global development gap 

Is that real that Russia falls behind the rest of the global bar industry for five years?  

This is one of the common delusions. To my mind, it’s totally incorrect. It is obvious due to the number of cocktail competitions. I repeat it every time: we have learned to make cocktails at international level. 

Now we need to stop proving this fact to the rest of the world. Our cocktails are good. Our language is bad. We need better communication and better promotion of our products to the consumer. So we have to focus at cross-cultural and interpersonal communications.

Sure, it is difficult to compare situation in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg to the rest of Russia. Still there are some regional bars that develop their hospitality culture pretty well. We have a huge country and big differences in audience. But generally the tendency is positive. 

Import substitution and local products

Why we have bananas cheaper than carrot? Why domestic goods are more expensive than imported?

Local goods have a chance. The problem is with definition of the notion “local”. We have the government program of import substitution due to the political and economical restrictions. We need to develop this substitution, yet it does not come out “like in France”. But it doesn’t have to! We do not have fine economy and production system, that is why carrot is brought from Israel and it costs more than bananas… All the same is about designers. We do not have production, and fabrics come from Italy anyway. Our production level of bar equipment is still very low.  

Local goods are expensive, because they do not have governmental support. And it is not possible to improve situation by increasing turnover. Local product has a chance if it gets support and development strategy. First of all it needs proper planning. One can plant cabbage anywhere. But it is important to settle the idea in a head. Launch a trend for a certain product, buckthorn for example.

It is important to have balance: to import where it is needed, to stay local where it is possible.

Do you think it is real considering the scales of our country?

Yes, Russia is huge. It is difficult to talk about locality in general. Something “domestic” from Vladivostok you can hardly find in Moscow or Saint-Petersburg. We can talk about a certain slavonic tendency and cultural fleur of Russian romanticism. “Mystery of Russian soul” was highly popular in the world 100 years ago. USSR retranslated absolutely different culture. Now we can talk about “a-la Russe” theme, with Chekhov, Tolstoy, Nabokov. 

We need to look for ambassadors at the global level.

MBS 2019. Level – worldwide

In my perfect world I would like to bring Moscow Bar Show to a stable international level, as I precisely understand our pluses and minuses, and what we can give to international community. I would like to go on to develop cross-cultural part, not stick to mixology only. In a future I see the event as cultural and educational, it helps people to share their experience and impressions, using bar culture language.  

Trends are dead

What do you think about that pestering notion “trends”?

Russian community has a fantastic desire to tell about trends. It’s important to understand that trends do not exist. Contemporary community is extremely multicultural. And talking about trends in this terms is a sign of narrow-mindness. Society is kosmopolitic. 

“Don’t just do it, do it right” – sounds vulgar, but true. You shouldn’t impose fashionable concept, only because it is fashionable.

Sooner or later you face up with mismatch of your personal brand and your place. 

 If your style is rap, baseball cap and hoodie, you shouldn’t pose as top international mixologist in a lobby-bar . 

But if we talk about trends in cocktails, 90-ies are back.

Beluga, vodka, Russia

What recommendations could give Aria Nikolskaya Russian bar community? 

  • Study English.
  • Properly use historical and cultural background for international promotion. 
  • Properly and consciously represent yourself at international events (not just drink).
  • Create relevant content for global media.

Find out, what is going to be presented at Moscow Bar Show 2019 in Saint-Petersburg’s Museum of Street Art here

Photos are courtesy of Moscow Bar Show, Arina Nikolskaya Facebook page, Pechiorin Bar

 

This post is also available in: Русский (Russian)


Яна Цукер

I have never been passionate in matters of alcohol, perhaps in matters of literature – yes. However, after some time, the romance produced by my writing skill turned into creativity, which was left unwasted and brought me to spent time in bars. I love to write, just as I like watch the rows of shining bottles at the bar shelves, and all that pleasant vanity around. As Master in Marketing and a person who is into and writing, I realized that I want to develop a bar culture, and I want to bring it to the rank of art. Bars of Saint-Petersburg have a special atmosphere, perhaps because these are the bars of my hometown


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