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Mar 24, 2018
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Posts Tagged ‘wine bar’

Solera wine bar will open next month in Alton

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017




Illinois oenophiles will soon have another spot to enjoy their vino. Solera, a new wine bar, will open soon at 212 W. Third St., in Alton. Co-owner Chris Aldridge said he plans to open Solera by mid-September.

“We were in Mendoza, (Argentina) doing a wine tour, and they did such a nice job of educating us on winemaking and the different grapes and the history,” Aldridge said. “It was just inspirational, and I wanted to bring that back to Alton.”

While he wants to create a fun place to hang out, Aldridge said he also wants to help educate patrons on what they’re drinking, and bring in some bottles that are less commonly seen in the area.

Aldridge said the bar will feature wines by the glass and also a retail component. There will be 150 to 175 labels available to drink on site or take home. By-the-glass offerings will include four dry reds, four dry whites, four to six local wines from Illinois and Missouri, and a selection of sherries and ports. In addition to wine, Solera will also have a limited food menu.

“We’re going to try and focus on stuff that’s a little more local and a little less commonly found, at least on the Illinois side,” Aldridge said, including chocolate from Kakao Chocolate and charcuterie from Salume Beddu.

Solera will have approximately 38 seats inside with a few more outside and plans to be open Tuesday through Sunday.

Matt Sorrell is staff writer at Sauce Magazine. 

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First Look: The Dark Room at Grandel Square 

Monday, March 6th, 2017



The Dark Room Wine Bar & Photo Gallery has reopened in its new location at 3610 Grandel Square in the Grand Center Arts District. As The Scoop reported in November, the bar is now housed in the Grandel Theatre building. The bar is now designated as a nonprofit under the umbrella of the Kranzberg Arts Foundation, with about 40 cents from each dollar going to support local arts.

The space, menu, hours and stage have all expanded with the new location. The Dark Room now seats more than 70 with better acoustics for live music, ample standing room and increased gallery space, so patrons can enjoy rotating photography exhibits without standing over seated diners.

“Most brands don’t get this kind of opportunity to evolve and get a second start,” said director of hospitality Denise Mueller. She hopes the bar will become a neighborhood staple and nightlife destination with its new lunch and brunch menus and late-night happy hour deals. The bar also plans to open an extensive patio with an outdoor bar this May.

The Dark Room is now open Wednesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Happy hour deals from 3 to 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sunday brunch is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Get a First Look at The Dark Room’s new home:


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Editor’s note: This post was updated at 4:50 p.m. to adjust hours of operation.  

Photos by Michelle Volansky

Related Content
The Scoop: The Dark Room to move to Grandel Theater 

The Scoop: Chef Samantha Pretto joins The Dark Room

Review: The Dark Room


Sneak Peek: Scarlett’s Wine Bar in the Central West End

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016



The newest member of the Sasha’s Wine Bar family will open to the public today, Thursday, June 2, when Scarlett’s Wine Bar opens its doors for service at 4253 Laclede Ave., in the Central West End. Like any sibling, Scarlett’s has the same DNA as her sister locations, but is her own, distinct restaurant.

The large, front patio – a la Sasha’s on Shaw – has room for roughly 30 guests to wine and dine al fresco under large umbrellas, while the inside features ample seating and plans for a back patio are in the works. Owners Rachel Jones and Alan Richman sourced vintage, art deco light fixtures and early 20th-century bar rails from Prince Edward Island that serve as a wine glass rack above the white marble bar.

While the dark walls and polished stone table tops are signature Sasha’s, Scarlett’s Wine Bar’s food menu boasts wood-fired pizzas, an option unique among the sister locations. Along with Neapolitan-style pizzas, Scarlett’s offers hummus plates, cheese and charcuterie, burgers, crab cakes and a vegetarian lasagna.

There are a handful of cocktails on the menu, including the Bey’s Knees, a nod to Beyonce. The mostly bottled beer selection is a lineup of craft beer bar man Tim McAndrews chose as “the best representation of the style.” The draft selection adheres to the same philosophy and features The Civil Life Brewing Co.’s American Brown and Perennial Artisan Ales’ Hopfentea.

The wine is the focus at Scarlett’s, and upon opening will offer 20 reds and 20 whites by the glass and will eventually have up to 175 bottles available for purchase. Scarlett’s Wine Bar will be open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. and from 10 a.m. to midnight on Sunday. Here’s a sneak peek at what to expect when you step inside:



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-photos by Michelle Volansky 


The Scoop: Scarlett’s Wine Bar to open in the Central West End

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016



Sasha’s Wine Bar and Sasha’s on Shaw are getting a little sister when Scarlett’s Wine Bar opens at 4253 Laclede Ave., later this spring.

“We wanted to play off the Sasha’s name, but we didn’t just want to stamp out a bunch of Sasha’s,” said co-owner Rachel Jones.

Located in the Central West End, the wine bar will also offer cocktails, spirits and beer. Scarlett’s will be open for lunch and dinner service in addition to being a nightlife spot. Wood-fired pizzas will be among the menu as will cheese plates and charcuterie with other items still in development.

The dining room will allow 50 customers to dine and drink under the salvaged tin ceiling, with an additional 20 able to enjoy the front patio and additional seats available on a back patio.

The Scoop: Chef Samantha Pretto joins The Dark Room

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015



After two months of consulting with chef Wil Pelly, The Dark Room in Midtown revamped its menu in November and tapped The Scottish Arms‘ Samantha Pretto to take the reins. Pretto started at the wine bar and photo gallery Dec. 1.

She brings “a passion for charcuterie, terrine and pairing cheese with wine,” said Chris Hansen, The Dark Room managing partner. “That passion for food, presentation and delivery fits very well with what we do.”

The Pelly-directed menu offers starters, sharable cheese and charcuterie boards as well as flatbreads, some vegetarian friendly, as well as desserts like affogatos and bread pudding. The menu released in November will run until the new year, when Pretto hopes to inject some of her own dishes reflective of her affinity for rustic Italian cuisine and her 15 years of kitchen experience at Scottish Arms, Market Pub House and more. “I’m looking forward to being able to show who I am through a plate,” Pretto said.

Editor’s Note: This post originally incorrectly reported that Samantha Pretto was sous chef at The Scottish Arms. It has been updated to correct the error. 




The Scoop: Louie’s Wine Dive to open location in Clayton

Monday, October 12th, 2015



There’s a brand-new wine spot coming to Clayton. Louie’s Wine Dive will open in the old Tani Sushi Bistro location at 16 S. Bemiston Ave., as first reported by the St. Louis Business Journal. Owner Whitney VinZant said he’s looking at an early 2016 opening.

The 90-seat restaurant will be the seventh Louie’s location nationwide, the first of which opened in Des Moines, Iowa in April 2012, and the first St. Louis-area location. “We’ve wanted to be in St. Louis and have looked at real estate there for a long time,” VinZant said. “Traditionally, we built our company on being unique to the neighborhoods we serve. We plan on doing the same thing in Clayton.”

Because each location is set up to partially reflect the area it’s in, about half of the menu will be left to the chef. The other half of the menu will include tried and trues from Louie’s Wine Dive’s other locations. The Clayton location will also feature ingredients sourced from local farms, a weekly weekend prix fixe three-course dinner and various wine dinners

Louie’s Clayton location will also feature local Missouri wines on their extensive wine list. “We try to focus on smaller, more undiscovered vineyards, in general, with an emphasis always on quality,” VinZant said. “We seek to make wine accessible … We will also open any bottle if a table purchases two glasses.”


The Scoop: Michael David Murphy named beverage director at Bar Italia

Friday, August 28th, 2015



On the heels of Brandon Kerne’s departure, Bar Italia has found a replacement for its now-vacant beverage directorship: Michael David Murphy, who oversaw the beverage program at Gerard Craft’s empire of restaurants, will fill Kerne’s shoes beginning this week.

“This is a really exciting opportunity,” Murphy said, citing the more than 600 bottles now amassed in Bar Italia’s wine library. “The cellar runs deep. There’s not many places in St. Louis that you can go to have wine that is correctly aged and served in its prime for $60 to $70.”

Since April 2014, Murphy worked for Robust Wine Bar, following stints as wine director and, later, beverage director for the Craft Restaurant Group from 2010 to 2011 and 2012 to 2013. In between, he was a wine manager for a distributor in Kansas City. Under Murphy’s watch, Craft’s Niche earned a spot among Wine Enthusiast’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants in 2013. He will continue to flex his sommelier muscles in his position at Bar Italia.

“This really is, from a sommelier’s perspective, a dream. Brandon did a phenomenal job elevating this into a prestigious program,” Murphy said. He plans to broaden the regional representation of the wine list and continue to evolve the 30-year-old restaurant’s monthly wine dinner program. Yet for the most part, he said, he just wants to keep an already flourishing program going strong.

Mengesha Yohannes, co-owner of Bar Italia, said Murphy’s laidback approach to beverage service differs from Kerne’s, but is no less apt. “He’s very quiet, but there’s a lot of substance,” Yohannes said. “Every time I have a chat with him, I’m always surprised, the hidden passions boiling under the surface. He’s very, very engaging and has a deep passion that comes out in surprising ways. More of a Zen master approach.”

Kerne, who worked with Murphy for several months before his departure to facilitate the transition, was equally enthusiastic. “I cannot recommend (Michael) enough as a professional,” Kerne said. “He is undoubtedly one of the top talents in the city.”





Drink This Weekend Edition: A cocktail crush at Sasha’s on Shaw

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Red or white? Neither. The newly introduced cocktail menu at Sasha’s on Shaw gives spirit lovers at least eight different ways to kick back at the wine bar. Developed by local barman Joel Clark, this selection of boozy elixirs keeps in the theme of the wine bar by utilizing grape-derived ingredients including sherry, pisco and even a vodka distilled from the fruit of the vine.




Clark described the Reverse Absinthe Old-Fashioned as an “absinthe slap in the face,” and he wasn’t lying. But the licorice flavor pairs well with the Camus Cognac and Angostura bitters and finishes mildly sweet thanks to dissolved sugar cubes. It’s a very accessible slap in the face, so turn the other cheek and take another sip.




For a more whimsical drink, try the Night Flight to Peru, a pisco-based cocktail that is a little sweet and a little tart when combined with Luxardo Maraschino, lemon juice and violet liqueur.




If you’re a whiskey fan like me, sip on the Fleur de Rieger, a floral and savory whiskey concoction that marries J. Rieger Kansas City Whiskey, Pimm’s No. 1 and Crème Yvette.

Peruse all the new offerings on Sasha’s new interactive menus on iPad minis. Select your category – trust me, start with Spirits – select your drink, and save it to a short list and even email the recipe to yourself.



Extra Sauce: Sauce Wine Bar Tour Instagram Contest

Monday, December 1st, 2014




The weather outside may be frightful, but we’re getting warm and cozy with a glass of something special at our favorite wine bars. This month, we shared our top 9 wine bars in St. Louis, and we want you to experience them all during our Sauce Wine Bar Tour Instagram Contest. Here’s how it works:

1. Follow @SauceMag on Instagram.

2. Work your way through our Sauce Wine Bar Tour Check List (click here for a printable version) and get drinking! Take a photo of you with a glass of your favorite wine and tell us where you’re drinking on Instagram. Tag @SauceMag use the #SauceWineBarTour hashtag so we know you checked another off your list.

3. When you’ve visited your last bar, tell us in your final post. The first Sauce follower to correctly complete the Sauce Wine Bar Tour challenge by Wednesday, Dec. 31 at noon receives a $100 gift card to Stars.


Must be 21 or older to participate and to claim the prize.

The Scoop: Bocci Bar in Clayton reopening as Bocci Wine Bar

Friday, April 11th, 2014


Clayton’s Bocci Bar located at 16 N. Central Ave., will unveil a new identity as Bocci Wine Bar May 1. The restaurant, which has been closed for renovation since Jan. 1, will see an updated menu, revamped decor and new additions to its eclectic wine selection. “We’re starting with some decorative changes inside to accommodate a wine display style,” said owner Frank Schmitz. This includes technological updates to offer patrons a sleek, straight-from-the-barrel experience.

“The key to me is that the wine is served at the right temperature,” Schmitz said. “We have a wine chilling system that chills the (red) wines down to 55 degrees. And we have implemented this new wine keg system of stainless-steel 20-liter kegs that are filled at the winery and shipped out.” On top of that, Bocci will offer four wines on tap using the Coravin system to keep the bottles airtight and fresh.

When it comes assembling the wine menu, Schmitz makes no bones about his international ambitions. Each month, Bocci will feature a region known for a particular varietal or blend. The wine of the moment will be paired with food and the music of the featured culture in the background. Argentina debuts as May’s featured wine region, followed by France, Italy and Australia during the summer months, Napa Valley in September and continental Europe in the fall.

Schmitz said the food menu is still being finalized, but it will reflect the diversity and breadth of his wine selection. “All our food is wine friendly – from farm, sea and land,” he said. Bocci Wine Bar will serve lunch and dinner Monday to Friday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and dinner Saturdays from 5 to 11 p.m.



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