At “Teplo” (“Warmth”), a block away from St. Isaac’s Cathedral, the Warm Drinks menu is a quintessential list of Russian wintertime staples – hot milk with honey and butter, rose hip tea with honey, sea-buckthorn tea, ginger tea and a variation on masala chai, featuring black tea steeped in milk with ginger and spices. These will cure just about any kind of winter blues, along with a cold – or maybe even a flu – and are sure sure to fuel a warm conversation.
Raf coffee. If you love a good latte or cappuccino, you have to try Raf coffee. Supposedly named after a customer named Rafael who didn’t like any usual offerings, this frothy mixture of coffee, cream and vanilla sugar is as uplifting as it is satisfying. It is, in essence, a breakfast in a cup. If might not make you conquer the world, but at least encourage to make it a better place – one morning meeting at a time. You can find it at many coffee places, including Time for Coffee across the street from ITMO's Lomonova campus and Zara by the Kronversky campus.
Soup to go. Russians are a soup culture, meaning they’d rather have soup than a sandwich, or just about anything else for lunch. A classic Russian soup is cooked up in a pot so big, it might well take you three days to finish it. Today, this comforting traditional dish has turned into a to-go staple. At a price of a coffee, you can drink your lunch! Several places offer their soups to-go on request, but our favorite is Soupperia, by Lomonosova campus that does just soups to-go. Here you’ll find a variety ranging from baked potato with bacon to Finnish salmon soup to Asian chicken broth. They also have several vegetarian options, such as cauliflower with nutmeg and pumpkin carrot curry.
Non-alcoholic punches and fruit teas. Your daily serving of fruits mixed with spices and hot juice, these “cocktails” have nothing to do with a punch bowl at your cousin’s wedding. Often served in a glass teapot heated by a candle, they make it so easy to enjoy a cold evening and a soul-searching conversation. They’re famous for bright flavors, such as raspberry puree and oranges in the Berry Punch at “Big Kitchen” at the Galleria Mall. Our favorites are the heartwarming "Pear and Ginger Cup" with rosemary and honey and the "Trans-Siberian Express" with sea buckthorn, both at Pryanosti & Radosti on Moskovsky.
If all else fails, there’s always Gingerbread Latte at Starbucks. At least until January.