Kyiv has hundreds of bars, but not all of them are easy to find. In fact, more and more are choosing to open in quiet locations in yards, and put no signs outside. Cultivating regulars and inspiring their own communities, these spots offer signature drinks and food by local producers. The Kyiv Post has picked some of the best yard bars to visit in Kyiv.
Squat 17B Yard Café
The story of Squat 17B Yard Cafe dates back to 2007, when a group of local youths moved into three abandoned buildings in the center of Kyiv. After eight years, one of the squatters, Myroslav Kryzh, and his wife Daria set up a bar in the yard of these buildings. That’s exactly how the place got its name, as “squatting” means occupying an abandoned building or unoccupied land. Today the bar occupies a small area near one of the buildings. Under an improvised roof, it has a bar counter and a just couple of tables. It features unusual design elements — book and newspaper pages instead of wallpaper, and other unusual decor details like a flower pot made out of a coconut shell. On the drinks menu are wine, beer, coffee and liquor.
The cocktails list includes Aperol Spritz, Hugo, Long Island Tea and more. It also serves cheese plates, as well as vegetable and chicken rolls, and desserts by Ukrainian producers.
“We always try everything ourselves. If we like it, we add it to the menu,” the bar’s co-founder Daria told the Kyiv Post. She says that the bar’s visitors are mostly the co-founders’ friends, as well as people invited by these friends. Although the bar is not kept in secret, it doesn’t have a signboard on the main street either. “It is kind of a quest, it’s interesting,” Daria says.
Prices: cocktail — Hr 100, cheese plate — Hr 80. Squat. 17B Tereshchenkivska St. 11 a. m. — 11 p. m. Enter the arch between buildings 17 and 19 on Tereshchenkivska St.
Okno, which means “window” in Russian, is a yard bar located not far from the Universytet metro station. Its interior is minimalistic, with a bar counter, tables and chairs, a ping-pong table and greenery lining the walls.
Okno was opened four years ago by a group of architects working together at AKZ Architectura agency. They decided to use the area near their office as a meet-up spot for Kyiv’s creative community, and set up a bar there.
Okno’s owners were inspired by the yard venues of New York, says one of the bar’s co-founders, Kyrylo Danyliuk. “It was an idea to bring together our friends — artists, photographers, illustrators — progressive young people,” Danyliuk told the Kyiv Post.
In the four years since its opening the place has become extremely popular — people come here to play ping-pong, enjoy drinks and network. The bar doesn’t have a fixed menu — the owners encourage clients to tell the bartender how to fix them a cocktail just the way they like it — the drinks are usually made with bourbon, gin, whiskey and aperol.
Okno also offers cider, craft beer, house-made lemonade and soft drinks.
Prices: cider, beer — Hr 50–70, cocktail — Hr 120 Okno. 33/34 Bohdana Khmelnytskoho St. Mon-Thu. 2–11 p. m. Fri-Sun. 2 p. m. — 12 a. m. Enter the arch between buildings 34/33 on Ivana Franka Street and 35/1 on Bohdana Khmelnytskoho Street.
Bar Tvoih Druzey
Although Bar Tvoih Druzey, located on one of the adjoining streets of Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square, was opened only this spring, the place has already become a popular venue, providing stiff competition to other yard bars in Kyiv’s center.
The team that worked on its creation is also the team that created the nearby N::B Cocktails Bar, a sophisticated place decked out in Japanese style, serving Nikka Whisky.
The director of Bar Tvoih Druzey Anton Sylenok says they wanted to open a simple place that would contrast with N::B Cocktails Bar. Although the bar’s name means “the bar of your friends,” it welcomes people of different ages and origins, he says.
“It’s a bar for everyone,” Sylenok told the Kyiv Post. The bar serves eight kinds of cider made by Ukrainian producers, beer, and cider-based and classic cocktails.
Visitors drink and talk sitting on folding chairs, swings, windowsills or anything else they want. The bar’s yard is spangled with lights and is a charming spot to enjoy a summer night.
Prices: cider — Hr 30. Bar Tvoih Druzey. 13 Mykhailivska St. Mon-Thu, Sun. 5 p. m. — 2 a. m. FriSat, 5 p.m — 4 a. m. Enter the arch in the building 13 on Mykhailivska Street.
Savage Food is a haven for Kyiv’s ravers — it’s located in the yard near one of the best local nightclubs, Closer, and offers vegetarian dishes and alcoholic drinks before, after and during the club’s parties. It was opened by Closer’s co-founders last summer.
One of them, Serhiy Yatsenko, says that he found out about a couple of clubs in Europe that also run restaurants nearby, and was intrigued by the idea.
However, the place is a popular venue not only for Kyiv residents heavily into rave culture, but also local vegetarian gourmands. The bar’s outside terrace is located at the foot of a forested hill, on a concrete platform.
There are couches, tables and carpets to sit on, and enjoy the drinks and food. The bar also seats guests on a terrace atop a handmade, two-meter-high platform that resembles the bow of a ship. The bar’s drink menu offers a range of refreshing signature cocktails made with strong liquor and seasonal fruits, vegetables and herbs.
They also sell wine, craft beer and strong liquor from all over the world, which is either served with ice or mixed with other beverages upon request. Apart from that, Savage Food also offers various vegetarian dishes, smoothies, shakes and fresh juice.
Prices: cocktail — Hr 169, roll — Hr 125. Savage Food. 31 Nyzhnoiurkivska St. Wed-Thu, 3–10 p. m. Fri-Sat, 3 p. m. — 2 a. m. Sun, 9 a. m. — 4 p. m. Enter the territory of the 31 Nyzhnoiurkivska St., bypass the building on its right side, then follow the sign “Savage Food.”
When AM Bar is closed it looks like a regular garage. When its gates are open, however, they form a small roof on the outside tables and the garage turns into a cozy little bar with brick walls and wooden furniture.
The bar, located in a yard near Bessarabska Square, was opened two years ago by two friends who were inspired by the small local bars they visited in Spain.
One of the co-founders, Vitaliy Kordonskiy, says that unlike many other bars, AM Bar has no dress code or other restrictions. This lets people feel comfortable and enjoy the atmosphere. “There are not many places like this in Kyiv. We wanted to create a simple bar without a pretentious interior,” Kordonskiy told the Kyiv Post.
The bar’s visitors are people of different ages and occupations who find out about the place from social media, simple passersby, or those who, like their regulars from the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, work near the bar. Kordonskiy says that AM Bar appreciates its regular visitors and knows them very well.
The bar serves various kinds of house-made nalyvkas, strong alcoholic drinks made of herbs, fruits and berries, as well as nalyvka-based cocktails. The drink menu also includes tequila, whiskey, rum, gin, calvados, wine and coffee. AM Bar also offers various pies and desserts.
Prices: nalyvka shot — Hr 25–30, cocktail — Hr 50–80 AM Bar. 6 Velyka Vasylkivska St. 4 p. m. — 4 a. m. Enter the arch in the building 6 on Velyka Vasylkivska Street.