Indeed, what’s in a name? But when an establishment is called Big Wine Freaks, it doesn’t exactly conjure up images of a refined place where one elegantly sips wine. Well, not in Russia. As a country known for adhering to its own set of rules and codes on many levels, this staet of mind frequently results in quirky and bold names within the realm of lifestyle, travel, consumer goods, or in this case, the field of hospitality. Founded a few years ago in the historic heart of St. Petersburg by entrepreneurs Vladimir Basov and Artem Tskhakaya, the duo have a number of venues under their belt, but now up the ante by opening a new branch in a much bigger and more challenging arena: the Russian capital Moscow. Situated on bustling Ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya, and a stone’s throw away from the landmark Kudrinskaya Square Building, the premises are decidedly more plush, and as such, totally in tune with the taste level of well-heeled muscovites.
So, contrary to what its name implies, Big Wine Freaks new outpost oozes upscale charm, thanks to the skillful interventions of B-Arch, an Italian design practice based in Prato. The chosen aesthetic projects an ornate pseudo-Russian style, and is captured by rich materials – mind you, there’s a lot of velvet – and a balanced infusion of colour. Walls are covered in coloured panels that almost reach up to the ceiling, but still expose a strip of red bricks. It forms the backdrop of a setting that, thanks to sophisticated lighting, has a slight fairy-like quality. The focal point of the design is a large suspended brass ring with built-in llight spots. right below, high tables with velvet-clad chairs situated. In the corner, an elongated sofa and three bucket seats offer an alternative seating arrangement.
The setting is more loungy, and comes with a crystal chandelier, a colourful silk rug, and unobstructed views of the stalinist landmark building. So, Big Wine Freaks is first and foremost a wine bar, stocking a tightly curated selection of imported premium wines from the Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy regions in France, and they’re all served under the watchful eye of Andrey Larin, an expiernced sommelier who honed his skills at reputable watering holes across Moscow. The noble fluids are obviously paired with matching bites, and it’s here where chef Marat Kalajian comes into the picture. His menu lists a string of tasty fingerfood dishes, but patrons with a big appetite can indulge in a number of proper restaurant-size dishes as well.
Design and photography: B-Arch