natural wines by the glass at 'Ssippi photo by michelle volansky

First Look: 'Ssippi on Cherokee Street

Natural wine bar ‘Ssippi opens today (July 1) at 2926 Cherokee Street, revitalizing the space most recently occupied by Red Oak Biscuits.

Co-owner Brogan Drissell’s bar is a welcome showcase of the diverse flavors that natural and low-intervention wines can yield, from the funky and bold to subtler notes. ‘Ssippi’s selection includes wines from around the world, with ten wines offered by the glass. There’s also a retail selection allowing you to take a bottle home or pop it open at the bar for an additional $12 corkage fee.

The current by-the-glass selection gives a good account of the diversity of natural wines. There’s an easy drinking Arca Nova vinho verde from Portugal – a very safe entry point for anyone who’s never tried natural wines before. The bright, bubbly and cloudy Kobal Bajta Muscat from Slovenia shows off a little more of the unique flavor profiles natural wines can achieve. And there’s plenty more to explore in red, white and rosé, from diverse regions of California, France, Italy, Germany Austria and more. If you’re more inclined to choose your wine based on the prettiest label, there’s more than enough to tease you here.

If you don’t drink wine, there are a few draft and bottled beers to choose from, and you can grab a Budweiser if you really just want to keep things simple. Among a few interesting non-alcoholic options on draft, the bubbly yerba maté is a standout.

What the snack menu lacks in length, it ably compensates for in quality. Sourdough from Union Loafers Café and Bread Bakery with delicious olive oil and balsamic vinegar and buttery Castelvatrano olives from Sicily are excellent partners for a glass of wine, and there’s also hummus from local producer Mylk and Hummus. If you really just want a sweet, fun snack, grab a bag of Albanese Gummi Bears.

‘Ssippi has been a labor of love for Drissell and his girlfriend, co-owner Emily Kostiuk. Earlier this month, Drissell told us the pandemic stalled plans to open the bar sooner, and the pair spent much of the last two years renovating the space. “I’ve been getting nervous,” Drissell said. “It finally feels real.”

The results are impressive, combining a modern aesthetic with original touches like the white wall tiles that date to the building’s time as a butcher shop, and large mirrors behind the newly installed bar. There are cute decorative touches, such as painted lampshades and details painted on the side of the bar itself. The space tends to be bathed in stunning light in the early evening, with window decals creating colorful prisms that pop around the room. The backyard patio rounds off the space, with seven tables and a projector screen that Drissell has already used for informal movie nights for neighbors. He said that the piano will be used for music nights. "I had an old school friend from high school reach out saying 'Can I play?'" Drissell said.

‘Ssippi is open from 5 p.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday, 2 p.m. to midnight Saturday and Sunday, and 5 p.m. to midnight on Monday.