MOSCOW — Finding a congenial bar in the Soviet capital is not easy, especially since the anti-alcohol campaign that began last June.
The typical beer bar is a smelly, smoky, stand-up joint where watery, tasteless brew is dispensed by machine for 20 kopecks a pint (about 23 cents). Scratch that idea.
Places labeled "bar" serve only syrupy-sweet cocktails with such names as "Golden Autumn," and the atmosphere is plain chrome racks.
But there is a wonderful saloon near the celebrated Taganka Theater that combines the atmosphere of an old-time speak-easy with that of a friendly pub. The music is as lively as the customers.
It is known as Vysotsky's Bar, for it was the hangout of a legendary folk singer who created an enormous following by composing tell-it-like-it-is songs about the harsh realities of Soviet life. His portrait hangs in the entrance. When he died in 1980, a crowd of 20,000 or more crammed into Taganka Square in an unprecedented show of love and grief.