Bar Ware Brings Craft Cocktails — and a Juice Bar — Downtown 

New Downtown bar features Instagrammable cocktails, and more.

During these hot months, it's important to drink lots of water and take care of yourself so you don't stroke out on some patio in front of all your friends and their dogs. That's why I support Bar Ware, Downtown's newest bar, because they've mitigated the issue of the unhealthy habit of drinking by sticking a juice bar inside their place. The way I see it, they've damn near made drinking in a bar a step in the right direction.

The Ware in Bar Ware is Libby Ware Wunderlich, owner and founder. The where is 276 Front Street, near Old Dominick distillery. And the details? They've covered a lot of ground.

Featuring beautifully crafted cocktails, a state-of-the-art juice bar from JuiceBrothers, a delicious menu served all day, and Memphis' only "frozen beer machine" that turns the head of your beer into a slushy (tried it, and it works: your beer stays ice-cold!), Wunderlich and her staff have thought of every conceivable way, short of an injection, for people to get food and drink into their bodies. Make no doubt about it, the Downtown bar scene lineup just got a little deeper.

click to enlarge The vibrantly violet Madam Butterfly (above) and house-made tagliatelle - PHOTOGRAPHS BY JUSTIN FOX BURKS
  • Photographs by Justin Fox Burks
  • The vibrantly violet Madam Butterfly (above) and house-made tagliatelle
click to enlarge barreport_bar_ware_51a0898.jpg

The bar manager, Jacob Leonard, developed the entire beverage program with the help of fellow bartender Sam Hendricks. The cocktail list is summery, with drinks based around fruit, light teas, and fragrant herbs. Leonard's favorite drink to make is the current darling of Instagram, the Madam Butterfly, a blue drink made with butterfly pea tea and topped with flowers. "It's delicate, but it has layers," he says.

An added benefit of being a bar with a juice bar connected to it is incorporating fresh-squeezed juices into the cocktails. As Bar Ware continues to get up and running, Leonard and his staff will begin cultivating a drink menu that features their juices as well.

So sure, they've pulled off a juice bar and a full bar, but can they cook? Chef Kevin Quinnell, formerly of Southern Social and Itta Bena, is here to check that off the list, too. The menu has a little bit of everything, including a charcuterie and cheese plate, steamed sandwiches, a house-made tagliatelle pasta with vodka cream sauce, and Quinnell's favorite, the beef Wellington.

But what of Libby Ware Wunderlich, who thought to pull all of this together under one roof? A woman of the people, she threw a central focus out the window and embraced the chaos of appeasing us all.

Bibi Janus, a friend of Wunderlich's, helped her with JuiceBrothers. The concept, which Janus developed in her native Amsterdam and recently brought to Manhattan, and the recipes, are all hers. The Memphis location is just one of three in the United States (the other two being in NYC).

Wunderlich envisioned a place for people who enjoy drinking to drink, and she's built it to suit. The interior is swanky without being pretentious. The ceilings and walls are dark, so one doesn't feel very exposed while knocking a few back. The decorating is exquisite, from the gingko light fixtures to the Mongo for Mayor framed picture on the wall. The patio, which is under construction, will be a key addition once the weather cooperates.

And Wunderlich is back at work just days after having her first baby, because nothing makes one want a drink quite like childbirth. I respect this commitment, and have a drink in her honor.

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