It’s always been our beef that Kiev lacks intimate bars with chatty bartenders that don’t stand around empty waiting for the weekend but are rocking every night of the week. Cotton Club then, a cosy basement homage to New York’s Jazz Era, that has live acts every night of the week, is the perfect entrant to the burgeoning bar scene. Jazz Bands with names like ‘Live Revue’, ‘Friends’, ‘Solomin Band’ take to its intimate stage at 9 pm nightly, while jazz fans waif around at tables that are decorated like a 1920s speakeasy. There are chintz drapes on the walls, tiny recesses with curvy lamps and jazzy paintings, and the expected black-and-white photographs of jazz greats like Miles Davis, Dizzy Gilespie, John Coltrane and others.
The venue’s inspiration, Harlem’s Cotton Club, was a hub of New York’s jazz era in the 20s and 30s, during the Prohibition Era. It’s also known for its ‘Jazz Bunnies’ – sexy chorus girls who were expected to be ‘tall, tan and terrific’. Kiev’s Cotton Club tries to incorporate elements of that swinging era with its Harvey Wallbanger, Gin Fizz & Cotton Martini cocktails. While there aren’t any ‘terrific’ chorus girls, the patrons can be pretty smoking instead. When I was there last to meet the garrulous manager Sergei, there was a suave Monica Belucci-like brunette sipping wine for lunch at a nearby table. Go back 90 years and she might have been a Quadroon or Octroon girlfriend of a jazz great.
What’s impressive about Cotton Club is that they’ve so quickly built up a loyal clientele. It’s tables are packed almost every night of the week, and the mood at the bar is chirpy, helped along by their homebrewn shots of Cranberry, Horseradish and other spirits. Visit it while it’s still a bit underground.
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