The semi-secret El Copitas bar opened on Bell Street in 2015. For three years, the team of the institution managed to achieve recognition not only in Russia but also abroad. The success was finally consolidated on October 3, when The World's 50 Best Bars, the most prestigious bar award in the world, was awarded in London. In the ranking of the fifty best bars in the world, El Сopitas took 39th place. This is a precedent: Petersburg bars have never been in the shortlist before, and this year El Copitas is the only Russian institution to be among the winners (Moscow Delicatessen and Chainaya. Tea & Cocktails were previously ranked in The World's 50 Best Bars rating). . Life around explains what is behind this impressive result.
One month, one million rubles, one bar
"#onemonthonemillionrublesonebar" - under this hashtag, the team described in social networks the process of preparing for the opening of the bar. El Copitas arose literally from nothing: three friends - Artem Peruk, Igor Zernov and Nikolay Kiselev - then nobody really knew the bartenders, one million rubles of start-up capital and a half-ruined room in a dilapidated well-yard on Kolokolnaya Street. It is clear that with such resources there could be no talk of any large-scale repair, so the team got out of the way: in a recently published book on the history of the bar in Russian, a separate chapter, for example, is devoted to finding chairs on the eve of the opening - a plot that perfectly describes the degree enterprise despair:
“The day before the opening, the bar had only a small supply of underground tequila and mezcal, an ordinary table under a makeshift tablecloth, and three bartenders looking for at least some chairs. Otherwise, why would it be the same front table if you can't sit down for it. But money, and, as a result, there weren’t chairs. And here the ideology of bar Petersburg is just revealed. The chapter of history, which shocked us no less than everything that happened as a whole. We just set off on the bars and as the last beggars asked pitifully for would any chair for the opening. Honestly, it was very uncomfortable and even embarrassing, but almost everyone without problems and misunderstandings again and again gave us a chair. "
The creators compensated for the obvious shortcomings in the entourage of the bar, with the conceptual discoveries, the most important (but not the most spectacular) of which was the cocktail card created on the basis of Mexican alcohol - tequila and the mezcal almost unknown at that time in Russia.
co-owner of El Copitas
“Six years ago, when I was still working at Mishka, Igor Zernov insisted that I go with the guys to the Bar Convent Berlin exhibition. And that year, for the first time, a separate section of agave spirits appeared, where tequila and mescals. Then the first time I tried the mezcal of one good brand and thought it was cool. We bought a bottle, saved it - and for a very long time we were enthusiastic, it was a really new story for us. At that time this idea arose - we decided that it would be great to make a mescal-based bar card I. We began to understand, read, try, each of us visited Mexico, and by the time we started preparing to open our own bar, it was already clear that we were opening mescaleria.
You need to understand that at that moment mezcal was almost unknown in Russia, it is now quite difficult to bring it, and then it was absolutely illegal. It was on the market, but only of one type - guzano, it is an industrial mezcal made using tequila technology. We must say that at first they were also forced to buy it when there was nothing else, but later they completely abandoned guzano. And by the way, here’s a statement for you: the “mezcal” category in the official classification of alcohol was not before El Copitas, then they wrote on the labels - “tequila”, and in brackets “mezcal”, and it appeared largely due to our activity. "
El Copitas was originally conceived as a semi-secret bar without a signboard, which is simply impossible to get into by accident, but gradually acquired a whole set of cute traditions - starting from the entrance, where visitors are greeted by an employee in a leopard fur coat, and ending with a cup of hot chocolate, which you should drink before going out. .
co-owner of El Copitas
"In fact, we have a fairly simple bar: many people think that there should be a" house of flying daggers ", we don’t have anything like that: we have good service, delicious cocktails, good food, friendly guys, and it’s also interesting with us. There was a time when spikizi projects became very popular, and many still rely on such a concept, but, unfortunately, few people really get into the subject, think out every little thing, every detail, and in the case of spikizi - this is the main thing. It's cool when there is an explanation for everything, when they tell you: here is the dishes we have such - then y, and the ice is like that - therefore, it shouldn’t be such that something is just like that. If your door creaks - let it creak for good reason, let it be a reason for conversation.
Communication in the bar is the main thing. If a person came alone, it’s all a lie that he wants to be alone. So, you can not leave him bored. We teach bartenders to communicate. Sometimes we give a direct assignment: “You see, the girl is sitting alone, come in, talk to her about something” - “About what?” - “About something”. The first time it is hard, they gradually get used to it - it is an invaluable experience. "
The bar is open only three days a week: from Thursday to Saturday. And booking a place here is a must. The work of the bar is scheduled literally in minutes, and therefore latecomers without warning may not be allowed.
co-owner of El Copitas
"At first, we constantly worked in the bar ourselves, we didn’t think then that we would have a whole team of employees, but, fortunately, we quickly realized that everyone should do their own thing: someone to meet and serve guests, someone it’s to clean garbage and dishes, some to cook food, and some to make cocktails. This is an absolutely adequate and correct approach. Now the functions are shared between the co-owners: Igor is engaged in global strategy and a cocktail menu. Misha is a bar manager, he communicates with the guys more than anyone else, prepares shifts watching the weather on the team. Artem is engaged in the entire history of international controls of social networks, as well as oversees the educational part.
Now in the bar seven people work in shift: a hostess, two waiters, a bartender, a cook, a manager and a washer. Since opening, we have been working 3 days a week - on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Initially, this was done so as not to sit in an empty room. We decided: let it be three days, but let the people be crowded in the bar on these three days. Although we are thinking about adding another one or two working days a week, now there is real excitement around the bar, it’s difficult to reserve a seat, and I want to somehow distribute the load so that everyone is happy. "
Own bar school, catering, apron and inventory brand, as well as "Ice Smooth"
The El Copitas team is a small holding. In addition to the bar, the team is engaged in catering, producing stylish aprons and bartender rolls under the brand name Mr. Murka, produces designer ice for bars and restaurants, but their most significant project for the industry is Bartenders Faqtory School of Bartendership.
co-owner of El Copitas
“We have our own school - Bartenders Faqtory, and almost the entire current bar team is our students who either have already finished studying or are currently completing their studies. Most of them are visiting guys, the age is very different - from 19 to 40 years old, who either have already worked somewhere, or really want to work, there are already great success stories: for example, Zhenya Zarukina came to St. Petersburg, attended a lecture course at the school and went on an internship to our bar, and by the end of the year went to the final of Diageo Reserve World Class. There is something to be proud of. We are preparing champions.
It seems to me that working at El Copitas is very difficult. This is a dictatorship. Of course, we do not beat anyone, but we have certain rules: you must pass exams, you must constantly study and develop. Yes, we are open to everyone three days a week, but for the remaining four days, everyone is also busy with something: on Wednesday we have a cleaning day, general cleaning, on Monday and Tuesday the guys go to workshops, someone is engaged in procurement, someone answers the phone, someone walks with me around the institution, looks where what happens. Someone is participating in trips: now, for example, Artem, together with one of our junior employees, went to Macau and Hong Kong.
But here I look at our guys and think: it's cool that they all succeeded right away. That is, they came, studied at school, they were told what to do, and now they are already working in the best bar in the country. That is, the results are not visible after a few years, but after only a few months. Sometimes weeks. For example, I have been in the bar industry for 15 years. Over the years, I have gone from a waiter to the owner of a bar from the top 50 best bars in the world, and for me it is a space success. In their lives, everything happens many times faster. "
The Russian Embassy
Not a single bar in St. Petersburg conducts such an active international activity as El Copitas. The team participates in almost all significant international competitions, regularly holds master classes and lectures abroad and regularly invites prominent foreign bartenders to Russia.
co-owner of El Copitas
“There is a lot of talk in the Russian bar party:“ we are drowning for development ”,“ we are promoting culture ”, but in fact almost no one is doing anything. We decided that we really want to change something. And, in any case , at first we saved all the money that we had left from purchases and salaries, borrowed and re-borrowed and went on trips, invited foreign children, sometimes they tricked and came up with crazy combinations in order to meet someone or learn something new.
For example, once we went to Mexico and, already there, we learned that the team of the best bartenders in the world, headed by Alex Kraten, flew to Oaxaca. Without thinking twice, they wrote to them, there was a pause a day, and then they answered us: they say, well, tomorrow at 11. They are in Oaxaca, and we are in Arandas. We left everything, went to the airport, flew to Mexico City, waited for the plane, flew to Oaxaca, at 9 in the morning we were there. Because these are legendary personalities, people who do not expect anyone at all. Alex Kratena was once the chief bartender at Artesian, a bar that has been recognized as the best in the world for three or four years in a row. And now, Alex Kratena and Monica Berg are leading the P (our) festival, which may soon come to Russia, more precisely, to St. Petersburg. This is a very cool festival for bartenders and about bartenders. With its help, they strive to explain that a bar is not only alcohol, but a community that can and should participate in solving global problems: they talk about economy, about the economy, raise the problems of racism, the problems of LGBT people, conscious consumption.
We are very interested in participating in this also because we also have a certain social mission: it seems to me that we do a lot for the domestic bar industry. They began to forget about Russia. We are now waving, like a flag, this shortlisted for The World's 50 Best Bars, but we must admit that in 4 years no one from Russia could achieve such a result. Since this story with Ukraine began, sanctions and everything else - but all this also affects. And here in general - the London Prize, all this stuffing of political moments - and bang - Russians on the short list. I just squealed with joy there, so I swore live, even my mother made a remark to me.
We have already said several times that victories in major competitions are many years of work: travel, participation in competitions, master classes, collaborations and so on. There are other establishments in St. Petersburg that are trying to do something — for example, the guys from the bar “One and a half rooms” - they are great, we went to Antwerp together. A lot of bartenders from St. Petersburg, Moscow go to the bar show, and from the regions too - Novosibirsk, for example, wet it. They have a very cool community called Friends Orchestra - they have already united about 8 establishments, because it’s easier to move together. "
And they are not going to stop
Now the team’s schedule is months ahead. And it's not just about contests, trips and deliveries: at the end of the year, the opening of a pop-up project for a Mexican diner was announced, where the emphasis will be on food. And the team plans to open a "Russian bar".
co-owner of El Copitas
“We received a letter of invitation to the award during a tour of Russia. I didn’t think that our country was so huge. We drove to Yekaterinburg - this is only a quarter of the country, but we were stunned too. You go, you go - and you think when it's all over. And you come to Yekaterinburg, your van breaks, and at that moment they send you a letter: you are in the top 50 best bars in the world.
Generally the trip was amazing. I did not think that we are an inspiration for so many people. Many specially came to us for lectures - from Vorkuta, from Surgut, from some other distant cities. We are now seriously thinking about how to tackle the Russian theme. We found a beautiful plot. At the beginning of the 20th century, an American cocktail bar was opened at Malaya Konyushennaya at the Medved Restaurant. It existed until the revolution, and then, for obvious reasons, was closed. Nevertheless, there were photos, memories, even a menu left. And we really want to reconstruct this story. Because, of course, it's cool to be Russian guys turned in Mexico. But now it’s time to turn to our own history, to recreate something related to the cocktail culture and our traditional Russian drinks. In London, for example, there is Savoy, and we want St. Petersburg to have its own symbol of similar significance. "