openings

First Look Inside Rio Grande, Opening Tonight at 7th and Market

The repainted bar.Photo: J. Barmann/Grub Street

Bon Vivants bar guys Scott Baird and Josh Harris, obviously not busy enough from writing half the bar menus in town and preparing to open Trick Dog in the Mission, are opening another bar tonight as part of A Temporary Offering: Rio Grande. As previously reported, ATO comprises a trio of semi-permanent businesses that may or may not make it into 2013 (but may stick around for a while) in the base of the Renoir Hotel at 7th and Market. FoodLab debuted last week, and tonight at 9 p.m. you can drink some fine bourbon and tequila cocktails at Rio Grande. That's the theme, you see: the South meets South of Border, where the Rio Grande separates Texas from Mexico.

The inspiration comes from a drink Baird created in his 15 Romolo days called the Rio Grande, which contains a mixture of bourbon and Reposado tequila, which is aged in bourbon casks. That drink will be on the menu, along with a bunch of others made with either bourbon or tequila — and the wall on either side of the bar are emblazoned with vintage ads, one for Wild Turkey bourbon and one for Espelon tequila. Also, they've wallpapered several of the walls with Mexican newspapers from the forties and fifties that Harris came across. "It's so weird to read about your country via another country, in another language," Harris says, pointing out a story about Joe DiMaggio ca. 1954.

They've kept the large black banquettes that remain from this bar's days at Etiquette Lounge, and one mirrored alcove that had been the home of holographic strippers in the space's Fuel days has been converted to a miniature shrine for the Virgin Mary that lights up every night at 5 p.m..

At tonight's opening party there will be a live band, and they're hoping that at some point somebody makes use of the go-go/stripper poles that were installed on the sides of the bar by the previous tenant, Fuel (which billed itself as a burlesque bar). But that's not to say they're hiring dancers... just hoping that some of the rock-and-roll spirit of the place moves some tasteful ladies with a little decorum to hop up there sometimes. "We're hoping for Cowboy Ugly as opposed to Cowboy Nasty," says Baird.

Rio Grande
- 1108 Market Street at 7th - Open June 1 at 9 p.m.

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