Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what the name of this place was until they put up a new sign one summer. It just said “Beer Hall”, albeit the genre of this place is actually closer to a ryumochnaya, a traditional Soviet bar serving shots of vodka and some sandwiches. It’s very basic, mostly standing room.
Sever-Plyus has occupied this place for about half a century, at least I have overheard one of the punters tell the bartender that he was a regular since 1968 (he looked like that too). My heart sank when I saw it was closed – but thankfully they just installed new doors. Previously they had a picture of Peter the Great inside but now the Bronze Horseman graces the entrance.
The core clientèle hasn’t changed much either – it’s still middle-aged men on their lunch break from the Military Medical Academy or about to go to the Karelian Isthmus to hunt or to fish on one of the trains departing from the Finland Station. The bartenders are still the same matronly ladies who pour vodkas (typically, 100 grams, with a tomato juice as a chaser) and serve sandwiches with egg or sprat. And my routine is still getting a 50 grams shot of Zveroboy, a tincture made from St John’s wort, between getting off the tram and picking up my mail in the post office next door. That’s usually quick enough to not get into a conversation and/or trouble. For longer immersion, another such bar is literally next door.