On the day after Thanksgiving, oenophiles around Park View will be able to enjoy bottles, charcuterie, and cheese at a new wine bar with a 4,000-square-foot patio that’s modeled after a legendary backyard hangout in New Orleans.
Long-awaited bar St. Vincent opened for business last week as an online store, accepting prepaid pickup orders available from lengthy lists of wines, ciders, beers, and charcuterie at 3212 Georgia Avenue NW, formerly Union Drinkery.
Starting Friday, November 27, customers can reserve a seat on Resy for high-tops and wrought iron tables dotting the sprawling setup out back that includes a deck perch filled out by bistro chairs.
St. Vincent comes from D.C. nightlife vets Peyton Sherwood, a partner at the Midlands Beer Garden, and Frederick Uku, a former bartender at the Red Hen, who inked the lease last May and spent a year and half on an arduous renovation for an indoor/outdoor setup that totals 11,000 square feet.
The inspiration for their hybrid store, restaurant, bar, and (eventually) live music venue is Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits, the 18-year-old New Orleans standby that recently received a nod as James Beard Award semifinalist for Outstanding Wine Program of the year.
“It’s our favorite place ever. We are modeling it after them,” says Sherwood, who often chats with the owner on Instagram.
Sherwood and Uku mimicked Bacchanal by planting Chinese elm and Virginia cherry trees, adding string lights, and laying down gravel (not exactly high heel friendly, Sherwood notes).
Uku says customers will “want to drink something [they] know is good in a relaxed environment, listening to music and talking with friends indoors and outdoors. And that’s it. No airs of pretension.”
People can sit down outside, peruse St. Vincent’s user-friendly e-commerce site, and check out with their table number. Staff will bring the bottles, ice buckets, glasses, and plated cheese and charcuterie right to their tables. Or, they can order right inside the saloon-styled setup past the front door before heading to the garden.
That self-service model, which does not include a paid sommelier, helps keeps wine prices low.
“Half my friends are somms and I respect what they do but I’ve been doing this in the city for 15 years and never needed a pin on my chest,” Uku says. “But don’t get it twisted: the wine list is fucking dope.”
The owners expect checks to average around $35 to $40 for a bottle of wine and food, says Sherwood. Early favorites include a Broc Cellars “KouKou” 2018; a Pecchenino “siri d’Jermu” Dogliani Superiore 2017; a Dolores Cabrera Fernandez “La Araucaria” Paraje La Perdoma 2018; and a Couly-Dutheil “Les Chanteaux” Chinon 2018.
Tenured D.C. chef Sam Molavi, an alum of Compass Rose, St. Anselm, and Ripple, plans to expand the food menu beyond charcuterie boards once the spacious kitchen becomes fully functional.
“He kinds of likes the idea of not being tied down to one particular cuisine,” Sherwood says. Pop-ups with visiting chefs and beloved D.C. brands like Timber Pizza are also an idea for the versatile space.
An upstairs bar with a vintage sensibility is expected to open in the spring. It has a small stage for live music, glowing study lamps, and soft lounge seating throughout. The construction project included moving around columns and revealing exposed brick that’s broken up with shimmering gold wallpaper.
“The room glows at night,” Sherwood says.
The owners also blasted a hole into the wall to access a new deck perched over the patio downstairs that will eventually fit around 190 people. A stage will be built out between the two trees.
“I’ve got a lot of local musician friends dying to come play here,” says Sherwood, whose beer garden down the street also had to press pause on its live music rotation during the pandemic.
For the holidays, the owners plan to spruce up the backyard with lots of red poinsettias and garland.
“You can’t have live music yet, so I plan to put a big Christmas tree on the stage,” Sherwood says.
Early ideas for the bar program that’ll debut down the road include spins on classic cocktails found in New Orleans.
“We want to champion mid-Atlantic ingredients and flavor profiles but tip our hat to he place that gave St. Vincent inspiration,” Sherwood says. One idea is an upscale version of the boozy hand grenade cocktail, a French Quarter favorite.
The bar is named after St. Vincent of Saragossa, a martyr and patron saint of winemakers. The plan is to celebrate his feast day (January 22) with lots of Champagne — or whiskey.