A new Liverpool bar is encouraging a subversive approach to drinking - here, vodka rules, in a bizarre array of guises
The students who crowd into Revolution in Liverpool aren't making a political or even a style statement. They're just getting stuck into the spirit of the times. Against a backdrop mixing Tsarist and Communist styles, with scant regard for historical consistency, they're here to sample a drink that's about the coolest thing to come out of the Eastern bloc. What makes this place - one of a dozen Revolutions dotted around the North, from Nottingham to Oldham - a radical departure from most pubs is the astonishing range of premium vodkas, and outrageously flavoured versions, all sold at egalitarian prices.

There are 60 types of vodka to choose from. Alongside familiar names like Zubrowka from Poland and Stolichnaya from Russia are rarer brands like potato-based Spodka; Russian Moskovskaya Cristall; rose petal, cherry, lemon, orange and plum flavours from Poland's Lanique; and Finlandia and Svensk from Finland and Sweden respectively. Revolution makes them all available at accessible prices - the most expensive shot is pounds 2.20. Alcohol content is probably as much an attraction as the intriguing flavours.

Even more popular than obscure varieties are Revolution's own sweetie- , chocolate- and fruit-doctored Absolut vodkas - 30 of them - which it makes and bottles itself in Oldham for all the bars. They go down like Smarties at a kids' party, not least because they cost pounds 1 or pounds 1.50. The most popular are mint chocolate and Toblerone, others include chilli and pear drops. Most vodkas are drunk in shots, but vodka Martinis and jugs of vodka cocktails complete the list. There are also beers, lagers and ciders on draught.

Candle-lit and draped with red velvet curtains, at weekends Revolution is the busiest bar on Liverpool's jumping Wood Street, Bold Street and Concert Square block. On Wednesdays the club Cream has a student night called Medication. Revolution's shots are widely prescribed beforehand.

Revolution, 18-22 Wood Street, Liverpool (0151 7072727). Open Mon-Fri 12pm-1am, Sat 12pm-1.30am, Sun 4pm-10.30pm

Mint chocolate flavoured vodka

All Revolution's flavoured vodkas are made to recipes perfected after many trials at the company's bottling plant in Oldham. They won't reveal the exact quantities, but for chocolate- flavoured vodka, a large bar combined with a 75cl bottle wouldn't be too wide of the mark - though the method of preparation they're prepared to divulge is too vague for attempts at home to be recommended. If you're willing to risk wasting good vodka and Mint Aero, the chocolate is broken up, mixed with vodka and melted in the microwave, stirred and then frozen overnight. The solid fat is taken off the top and it's bottled. Once poured, if you don't drink it straight away it separates in the shot glass.

Polish Pure Spirit

This vodka, from Poland's biggest vodka producer, is so strong - 79.9 per cent ABV - that bar staff are under orders not to serve anyone more than two shots. It's the effect, not the taste of this firewater that appeals. In Poland it wouldn't normally be drunk straight, at Revolution it usually is. It's the most popular of the premium vodkas.

Stout Russian

One of the vodka cocktails sold in three-pint pitchers for pounds 9.95, this has all the ingredients used in a Black Russian, but with Murphy's stout to give it a creamy head and a touch of bitterness that offsets the sweetness of the other ingredients. It's dark, rich and not quite as sickly as it sounds. Mix three shots Smirnoff, three shots Tia Maria, 1.5 pints Coca Cola and 0.5 pints Murphy's with ice in a jug. It's drunk in slim jim glasses. n