With its low self-esteem and high urban blight, Hartford is the ultimate underdog city. Sad City Hartford documents the joys, sorrows and eccentricities of New England's Rising Star.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Russian Lady - Returning to Hartford



Last week Sad City got the titillating opportunity to walk around the interior of the new-old downtown bar, The Russian Lady. The original Russian Lady was a favorite for years in the downtown scene, and stood out thanks in part to its giant “Mother Russia” statue of Catharine the Great that used to adorn the front of the building. Its visitors, in its heyday, included such notables as Paul Simon and Bob Hope. Although the statue was auctioned off years ago and repossessing it for the new location proved impossible, The Russian Lady is about to see a new heyday, or so her owner believes. The new space, with many antiques from the old bar and elsewhere, leads us to agree.



Owner and operator Jerry Fornarelli, who also owns Up or On the Rocks and The Tavern Downtown clearly built this place with a vintage vision. The d├ęcor is no run-of-the-mill downtown bar swank, but instead carefully chosen antiques amidst wrought iron banisters and billiard tables. Dark wood abounds, and there are private wooden booths that could almost be mistaken for parts of stagecoaches on the first floor. The second floor, which will be a vodka bar with reportedly 100 different types and infusions of vodka, also has evocative antiques (which have not yet found permanent spaces - but the bar ain’t open yet) and a mesmerizing view of the capitol building from one of its windows. The third floor will be a rooftop cigar lounge offering a multitude of tobacco flavors.

The stained glass throughout makes the interior feel almost cathedral-esque. All the light fixtures are vintage and cast a soft glow, and especially combined with shafts of colored light filtered through the stained glass, the ambience has a nostalgic, cozy feel to it. We were especially captivated by the wooden ceilings and the first floor bar top, which is constructed out of old doors (pictured below). Surely, it is a work in progress, but by September, we hope to see The Russian Lady restored to a new, veneered glory.

16 comments:

  1. Great post! The bitch is back!

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  2. COOL! Now I remember why I liked it so much - the stained glass!

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  3. Thank goodness. I was so sick of the 'urban' bars where you can't hear yourself think in the bar-district. I read once in the Courant, years ago, that The Mother Russia Sculpture sits outside on someone's estate now. Or some-such.

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  4. Nice, can't wait. No rap music and a rooftop bar. Sign me up.

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  5. The Russian Lady statute is on top of a hotel in NYC and the owner wanted something like $400K for it. Needless to say, it won't be returning at that price.

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  6. It is actually in the lobby of the Dream Hotel in NYC.

    http://www.dreamny.com/photogallery/lobby.cfm

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  7. I whooped and banged more azz in that place than Wilt Chamberlain and Mike Tyson !!!!


    Long live the lady!

    -Kevin 'lil rocks' B

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  8. Tao LaBossiere is doing a replica of the Lady statue

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  9. New York City, stealing all the cool stuff from Hartford since before time.

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  10. I have 2 hurricane glasses from the "old days". Looking forward to "new days".

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  11. What about the Long Island Iced Tea? I hope this gets a repeat performance.

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  12. renowned for Long island ice teas and the statue of the russian lady

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  13. I have a picture of the manager Chris with his Russian Lady jacket on next to the video game machine that was on the right as you walked through the door and next to the barber chairs

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  14. I have a picture of John Rimscha (former owner)
    and myself in front of the statue the day of the
    auction.

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  15. The European Woman law is on top of a resort in NYC and the proprietor desired something like
    FFXIV Gil For Sale
    D3 Radiant Star Emerald

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