One of New York's Best Nominated for best singles scene, the Russian Vodka Room is worth the trip whether you want to slam down shots with friends or test the international waters.

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Across the street from the Russian Samovar, this infusion-driven vodka bar beats the competition hands down. In place of the Samovar's plastic tablecloths and bright lighting, the RVR has the feel of a classy Eastern European hotel bar. The place is dimly lit, with comfy booths and a large back room.

The drinks are stiff and way generous
and the grub priced to sell (an "appetizer" plate of smoked fish and latkes for just over $8 will do you for the night). A stone's throw from Hachette and Hearst, the spot gets its fair share of youngish publishing trendoids, but they hardly dominate, and are often matched by grouchy theater types and expats for days.

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Appropriately named, this new green marbled and beautifully upholstered piano bar (its log is a martini glass's edges as two points of a star, with a hammer and sickle as olives). Indeed the menu offers tapaslike specialties from the old country. Martini connoisseurs will apreciate the housemade infused vodkas in 10 flavors including tarragon and coriander, as well as 65 vodkas.

Whether they are nostalgic immigrants from the Black Sea or just cheap vodka drinkers, most clients in this smoky, down-to-Russian-earth bar near the Theater District are regulars. Some Americans enjoy casual conversations at the bright front bar, but comrades prefer keeping secrets in the intimate back room. Try smoked veal tongue with Khvanchkara wine from Georgia, Stalin's favorite (he is still talked of in the present tense here). The Russian bartender and the music are very 80s, and the stories as outdated as Peter the Great, or as current as green card lotteries.

"Baby potatoes dream about going here to come back as vodka" say comrades of this "dark, cool and swank" Midtowner drawing an"actual Russian crowd" with live music, caviar, "dozens of flavored vodkas" and "unbelivably enormous martinis"./p>