Last night, I managed to drag my flatmates out to the Irish pub up in Rosa Khutor. I love this concept abroad of the ‘Irish pub’, like it should have leprechauns doing the jig, Guinness and that band from Titanic playing down the hall. However, one Canadian moaned that they don’t serve Irish fare. “What’s Irish fare?” I asked. “You know like Shepherd’s Pie, fish and chips… that kind of thing.” Oh right, so British food. I’m not quite sure how Ireland managed to internationally claim the pub as their own, but it’s no bad thing. It’s the only bar in Rosa Khutor that doesn’t look like it would be filled with Russian oligarchs drinking champagne by the bucket.
As you walk through the door, you’re hit with a wall of cigarette smoke. The Russians may have made a law against smoking in public, but this is irrelevant in O’Hara’s. Cheesy rock music pumps from the speakers. The walls are decorated with memorabilia from English Premier League football teams and half-heartedly humorous signs, saying things like “Beer is the answer, but can’t remember the question”. In the corner, a severe-looking security guard is sat surveying the pub floor. There won’t be any brawls taking place here.
Once you’ve nabbed a table, a waitress will come over to serve you. This completely threw me. So you don’t order at the bar? Nope, your beers come to you. The menu included the usual Guinness, Heineken, Strongbow as well as the more bizarre freshly squeeze carrot juice (who comes to a pub for carrot juice?) and “beer cocktails”. These consist of beer mixed with the likes of jaegermeister or vodka. Beer and vodka is apparently totally normal in Russia, or so my flatmates tell me. But it’s not cheap. A regular pint costs a whopping £7, let alone with a shot of Russia’s finest in it.
They also don’t have a word for “cheers!” like we do. The Germans have “prost!” The Swedes say “skål”. The Russians just clink glasses and go “waheeeeeey” in a gruff male voice. If they’re drinking vodka, they often drink to their health – “za zdorovje”. When it comes to bar snacks, forget a packet of Walkers or pork scratchings. Thick dark fried rye bread covered in garlic is the bar snack of choice.
So we drank our Heineken, ate our fried bread and pondered over why Nika’s boyfriend supports Everton (of all football teams). They liked the fact that they had a night out with a real English girl in an English pub. Well, nearly an English pub.