Before the smoking ban, for my money the best cheesyswank Russian place to hang out and drink a vodka or a Baltic beer was the Russian Vodka room on 52nd and 8th in midtown. I'm talking Russian bars here -- happy hour places where the blinis are reliable and the Russian secretary headcount is high -- and not the cabarets in Brighton Beach.
The management of Russian Vodka has since changed and I think the place has diminished somehow. There is something inimitably civilized about the idle, fools-gold splendor of these places. I miss it. Does anyone know of a good replacement? Already know about Russian Samovar. Any boro will do.