Pink Freud is hidden in a small courtyard in the historic district of Podil. Fresh air, wooden benches and marble tables around the fountain under the romantic light of the street lamps and garlands create an astonishing atmosphere. The Pink Freud cocktail card is unique in its menu structure: the drinks are placed along the axes from sweet to bitter taste and from light and fresh to more saturated and rich flavor. Molecular gastronomy and experimenting with spices and herbs, erasing all borders between the bar and the kitchen is a prominent feature of this bar. The chill mood of the place is usually accompanied by jazz, soul and funk - that's why this bar is often recommended to visit in Kyiv.
Address: 19, Nyzhnii Val Street
BarBoss is the first Kyiv BDSM-themed bar with relevant interior elements - lashes, hooks in the ceiling for hanging, and a special spreader bar. The most curious souls can experiment with the equipment right on spot, adding a bit of spice to the nightlife experience in Ukraine. The bar has developed a menu that includes beer, cider, liquors and more «adventurous» drinks like gin, tequila, whiskey and rum. The cocktail list has classics as well as place’s specials: Pleasure, Crazy dog, and Uncle John. BarBoss also has three thematic cocktails, «Safe», «Sane» and «Consensual», which are consonant with main BDSM principles.
Address: 15, Mala Zhytomyrska Street (entrance through the arch)
LoggerHead is one of the city's classical speakeasies: this Kyiv bar does not have a Facebook page, a sign and the entrance located in the arch in downtown is disguised as a transformer vault. To get in, guests have to ring a bell and say the password - "loggerhead". However, the bar is often full, so getting a table isn't guaranteed.
The bar is popular with locals for its old stylish arch-shaped roof, 19th-century brickwork, smooth lights and unique cocktails. The old-time style is reflected in the menu as well: LoggerHead based its principles on classic mixology rules and the name of the bar refers to the old bar instrument - an iron handle with the ball at the end. At LoggerHead, mixing cocktails resembles a spectacular show.
Address: 1, Tarasa Shevchenko Boulevard
The hidden open-air bar Okno is hard to simply stumble upon. Located on the corner of Ivana Franko and Bohdana Khmelnytskoho streets, the bar is often filled with regulars and people who read about the place in various guides about the city. Okno was inspired by NYC open-air locations and brings the same big city vibe to Kyiv nightlife. While a group of guests chats holding a cup of Blanche and ale, others play ping-pong or simply chill on numerous bean-bags. The bar works seasonally: in summers and until the last warm days of September.
Address: 33, Bohdana Khmelnytskoho Street (entrance through the arch)
The tiny Korin' Bar located on Besarabska Square is a place for those who'd like to try one of the most popular traditional Ukrainian drinks - nastoykas. This horilka-based drink is believed to have soothing qualities for digestion. Nastoyankas are made of horilka, herbs and spices that develop more beneficial in time — usually, it takes up to six months for it to settle perfectly.
Nastoyankas of various flavors are served in tubes here. The menu includes classical flavors like khrinovukha with horseradish and mint spotykach as well as more adventurous options like nastoyankas based on gin, Becherovka and honey whiskey. Korin' Bar regularly takes part in the Ulichnaya Eda festival and the popular charity market Kurazh Bazar, so the downtown bar isn't the only place to try Ukrainian alcohol classics.
Address: 2, Besarabska Square
The thematic bar is based on the legends of Andryivskyi descent and attracts not only those fond of esoteric - the menu offers 13 unique cocktails that are bound to be real magic. For instance, take Viccan Coven - lavender liqueur, gin, dry sparkling wine, thyme. The cocktail’s name is taken after a British occult tradition called Vicca. The drink is recommended to witches and wizards in love, as well as travelers.
Ritual cocktails is another shtick of the place. Say, Walpurgis Night, called after the main witch holiday, when the fringe between our world and the world of supernatural thins out. The beverage from Jäger, tequila, cherry juice and Angostura is served in a special way: the waiter brings a candle, you’re supposed to light it and look into the flames all the time while drinking the cocktail until you see a small fire spirit. Then, you make a wish and wait for the candle to fade.
Address: 9A, Bulvarno-Kudriavska Street
Palata #6 is often mentioned among the bars to visit in Kyiv when you're in the search of a mad party place. The bar's name refers to a short story by Anton Chekhov, which depicts the life of psych ward patients. Palata #6 is such an iconic old-school spot that doesn't have an official Facebook page and gained its fame through word of mouth.
The drinks here are served in test tubes or syringes as a way of 'treating' patients by waitresses wearing nurses' uniforms. The special drink of Palata #6 is absinth, so you will find various brands available. Steaks and snacks are the most common food item ordered here. Note that the bar doesn't have any sign and the door leads to a basement - don't let that scare you away.
Address: 31, Bulvarno-Kudriavska Street
Coyote Ugly Saloon
Coyote Ugly Saloon was originally founded in 1993 in New York. More than 20 years later, the saloon grew into a chain of establishments all over the world. Now, it is one of the bars in Kyiv that regularly attracts customers no matter the season. It's also among the popular spots to organize bachelor parties mostly thanks to the unique option on the menu - body shots. Saloon's waitresses serve various kinds of strong liquors from classical American whiskey and bourbon to tequila and vodka in body shots, priced UAH 310 on the menu.
Address: 9A, Mechnykova Street
The following list is the editor’s choice. All bars are presented in the random order.
Photo sources: unsplash.com, Facebook pages of businesses mentioned above, foursquare.ru, tourister.ru. All images belong to their rightful authors.