A History Lesson With Booze ®

Pay up, Beardo!

This week in 1698, Tsar Peter the Great tried to change the face of Russia… by instituting a beard tax. Fight the power - and put some hair on your chest - with a classic cocktail from America’s most famous Russian-themed restaurant.


Peter The Great tried to change the face of Russia. Literally.

It all began when Peter took a tour of Europe. In Holland, he learned ship building. In Germany, he learned to wipe his lips with a dinner napkin. Peter fell in love with Western culture. Surely this was the way of the future.

So when he got back home, Peter greeted his noblemen with a Western-style hug… then whipped out a razor… and cut off their beards. Western men were clean-shaven, he said. Russians should be too.

Problem was, Russians really dug their beards. Aristocrats and the devoutly religious grew them down to their chests. So to get everyone on board? Peter imposed a beard tax. You could keep your whiskers… if you paid the state a hundred rubles.

And once you paid, you had to carry around state-issued proof: A little coin stamped with a picture of a mustache and beard. Peter posted guards at city gates to make sure the unshaven had anted up.

The tax never brought in much cash. And when Peter died, the tax went with him. But the war on beards continued elsewhere. Margaret Thatcher made every member of her cabinet shave. And Walt Disney outlawed beards for Disneyland workers — a ban that was only lifted this year.

Animatronic Abe Lincoln is said to be pleased.

The Rasputin

Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com
Photo credit: Elana Lepkowski, stirandstrain.com

Mixed by Ken Biberaj, Vice President at the Russian Tea Room in New York City.


  • 1 part Czar’s Gold Vodka
  • 2 parts Frangelico

In a cocktail shaker, combine ingredients. Shake and pour over ice. Drink it quick. Pay the penalty: 100 Rubles (or local equivalent).