Vodka, imported liquors rum, gin, etc, international soft-drinks Pepsi, Coca- Cola, Fanta, etc, local soft drinks Tarhun, Buratino, Baikal, etc., distilled water, kvas sour-sweet non-alcoholic naturally carbonized drink made from fermented dark bread and mors traditional wild berry drink.
Street vending of any alcohol including beer, as well as selling it in small booths, is illegal in Russia since 25 December 2012 according to 171-FZ federal law. Therefore, it should only be found in shops and markets not smaller than 50 square metres, malls, and all kinds of catering establishments if they are not located too close to a children's, educational or sports establishment. The chain supermarkets excluding some "elite" ones some of which are intended specially for alcohol sale e.g., "Krasnoye i beloye" federal chain store system and malls mostly on bigger cities' outskirts are usually the cheapest option for buying drinks for food, the local markets in the smaller cities, but not in Moscow, are often cheaper. Staff of all of these maybe except in some supermarkets, if you're lucky does not speak or, at the best, speaks very basic English even in Moscow.
Mixed alcoholic beverages as well as beers at nightclubs and bars are extremely expensive and are served without ice, with the mix for example, coke and alcohol charged for separately. Bringing your own is neither encouraged nor allowed, and some usually dance-all-night venues oriented to the young crowd places in Moscow even can take some measures to prevent customers from drinking outside like a face-control who may refuse an entry on return, or the need to pay entry fee again after going out, or even from drinking the tap water instead of overpriced soft drinks by leaving only hot water available in the lavatories. Any illegal drugs are best avoided by the people not accustomed to the country — the enforcement is, in practice, focused on collecting more bribes from those buying and taking, rather than on busting drug-dealers, the people selling recreational illegal drugs in the clubs are too often linked with or watched by police; plain-clothes policemen know and frequently visit the venues where drugs are popular, and you will likely end up in a lot of problems with notoriously corrupt Russian police and probably paying multi-thousand-dollar if not worse bribe to get out, if you'll get caught. It really doesn't worth the risk here.
Russians are not famed for their abstemious character:
Beer in Russia is cheap and the varieties, of both Russian and international brands, are endless. It's found for sale at any street vendor warm or stall in the centre of any city and costs from about 30 rubles about one US dollar to RUB130 for a 0.5L bottle or can prices double and triple the closer you are to the centre.
"Small" bottles and cans 0.33L and around are also widely sold, and there are also plastic bottles of 1, 1.5, 2 litres or even more, similar to those in which soft carbonated drinks are usually sold — many cheaper beers are sold that way and, being even cheaper due to large volume, are quite popular, despite some people saying it can have a "plastic" taste.
The highest prices especially in the bars and restaurants are traditionally in Moscow; Saint-Petersburg, on the other hand, is known for the cheaper and often better beers. Smaller cities and towns generally have similar prices if bought in the shop, but significantly lower ones in the bars and street cafes.
Popular local brands of beer are Baltika, Stary Mel'nik, Bochkareff, Zolotaya Bochka, Tin'koff and many others. Locally made mainly except some Czech and possibly some other European beers — you won't miss these, the price of a "local" Czech beer from the same shelf will be quite different international trademarks like Holsten, Carlsberg, etc. are also widely available, but their quality doesn't differ so much from local beers. Soft drinks usually start from RUB20-30 yes, same or even more expensive than an average local beer in a same shop and can cost up to RUB60 or more in the centre of Moscow for a 0.5L plastic bottle or 0.33L can.
There is also local beer on draught which is produced not far from where it is sold by relatively small beer factories or microbreweries and sold mostly in specialised shops where it is bottled from a keg right in your presence. This Can be either filtered or unfiltered with yeast deposits, and almost always unpasteurised. This is the freshest beer variant, completely unsuitable for taking home because of its extremely short storage time, but ideal for consumption right on the purchase day.
Wines from Georgia regaining popularity slowly but surely since their return to the Russian market in 2013, Moldova, and Russia itself are quite popular.
In Moscow and Saint Petersburg, most restaurants have a selection of European wines—generally at a high price. Please note that most Russians with the exception of wine gourmets who are not so common prefer sweet wine as opposed to dry. French Chablis, Bordeaux, and other world-renowned wine sorts are widely available at restaurants and are of good quality. The Chablis runs about RUB240 per glass. All white wines are served at room temperature unless you are at an international hotel that caters to Westerners.
Russian wine production is based mostly in southern regions of the country, the most notable of which are Krasnodar Krai and Crimea located close to the 45th parallel, just like the famous Bordeaux vineyards. Certainly worth trying are dry wines produced by the Fanagoria and Inkerman wineries. Strong sweet wines similar to Port and produced in Crimea most notably by Massandra winery, are also widely available and worth tasting for those who like this wine type.
Soviet champagne Советское Шампанское, Sovetskoye Shampanskoye or, more politically correctly just sparkling wine Игристые вина, Igristie vina is also served everywhere in the former Soviet Union at a reasonable price. The quality is generally on the level of cheap European sparkling wines and by far the most common variety is polusladkoye semi-sweet, a misnomer for what most Westerners find syrupy-sweet, but the better brands also come in polusukhoe semi-dry and sukhoe or brjut dry varieties and can hold their own with the best that France and Nelson, New Zealand can offer. Naturally enough, French diplomatic legations throughout the world officially serve French Champagne; privately the preferred tipple of many French ambassadors is the Russian variety - whisper it not. The original producer and Sovetskoye Shampanskoye trademark holder is Latvijas Balzams in Latvia, but Ukrainian brands like Odessa or Krymskoe are also very popular. Among Russian brands, the best brands seem to originate from the southern regions where grapes are widely grown. One of a quality Russian brands is Abrau-Dyurso RUB200-700 for a bottle in the supermarket depending on variety; Tsimlyanskoe RUB150-250 is also popular. The quality of the cheapest ones from RUB85-120, depending on where you buy varies, you can buy if you do want to have a try while not paying too much, but, for export to your home, it's wiser to stick to something better.
Medovukha медовуха, also known as mead, is the ancient drink brewed from many a century ago by Europeans is also wide-spread among Russians. It has a semi-sweet taste based on fermented honey and contains 10-16% of alcohol. You may see it sold in bottles or poured in cups in fast-food outlets and shops.
When entering a local store, you might goggle at the amount of vodka on display. Drinking vodka in Russia is a different custom than in North America or Europe. To drink vodka in the right way, you need to have zakusky Russian for the meal you eat with alcohol - mainly vodka. This can consist of anything from simple loaves of bread to full spreads of delicious appetizers. The most common are sour or fresh cucumbers, herring, soup, and meat. If you are dining with locals who are serving soup or herring or potatoes be prepared for a generous amount of vodka to be provided. The convention is to say a toast, za zdoroviye "for good health" is the most common, drink the shot or half and follow with a bite of the food. Zakuska/ysingular/plural, will be something salty, dried, or fatty. This is so that the vodka is either absorbed by the food or repelled by the fat.
Be careful when opening a good vodka bottle: once you open it you must drink it all since a good vodka bottle doesn't have a cap that can be replaced. If you are drinking with locals it's no problem to skip round. They will just pour you a symbolic drop.
Genuine kvass is very hard to find in the cities, there are only some chances in rural areas—but even there, only by a recommendation. Whatever is sold in supermarkets as kvass is merely an imitation, and is pretty far from a real product. What makes genuine kvass different includes: limited lifetime normally 1 week, contains some alcohol 0.7% to 2.6% vol and should be stored in a fridge. Genuine kvass can be bought in 0.2L cups, which may be a good idea to sample it before buying in quantity.
In warm periods, genuine kvass can be bought from huge metal barrels on trailers bochkas. Originally a symbol of soviet summertime, bochkas became rare after 1991. Soviet nostalgia and these trailers' no-nonsense good functionality have given them a revival in recent years. There are also modern, plastic, stationary, upright barrel-like dispensers but these may not sell the genuine article. Towards the end of an especially hot day, avoid genuine kvass from bochkas as it may have soured.