LBD’s 2010 Divalicious Red is the wine equivalent of sausage making: there are nine listed red grapes plus “other.” “It smells like a Glade candle,” said one taster. “There’s very soft blackberry fruit,” said another, hopefully. “Nobody would buy this unless it were $4,” was another opinion. (It’s actually around $12.)
Which brings us to the pink-labeled 2010 Bitch Aragon Grenache, one whose target audience was less clear. In the words of more than one wine industry pro, it might be equally aimed at men and termed a “panty-popper.” (Note that others make variations on this theme: Royal Bitch, Sweet Bitch, Happy Bitch, Sassy Bitch…and these are more clearly woman-oriented.) Regardless, “Is this really a joke? That’s the secret power of this wine,” and “I’m upset that I like this the best,” were typical comments.
In the end, there was pretty much universal scorn for the marketing premise as typified by Little Black Dress: “Flavorful and feminine, [these] blends are the perfect way for every woman to embrace her inner diva.” Why not, we thought, celebrate instead women in wine by concentrating on influential female winemakers—of which there are many. Seems like a superior sisterhood.
We wound down our evening, pleasantly sated, but with just enough room in our bellies to share a piece of Oma’s blechkuchen, or chocolate sheath cake with walnuts. Tasty and soft, the cake’s only hiccup was too much prefabricated chocolate sauce.
Upon my return visit days later, the oompah jams were still streaming from the sound system and a sizable lunch crowd chatted over Reuben sammies. I followed suit and ordered the Reuben lunch combo, a half sandwich with either a soup of salad. The maultaschensuppe, which the server described as a beef broth with dumplings, was tasty if heavy on the salt, but the stuffed dumpling, filled with beef, spinach and sautéed onions was especially comforting. The Reuben on the other hand was a hit with house-made corned beef, sauerkraut, melted Swiss and just a touch of Thousand Island dressing on toasted rye. It’s reason enough to return, and reason enough to finally purchase my own dirndl.
300 W Bitters
(210) 396-7170, bavarianbrauhaus.com Skinny: Bavarian Brauhaus brings back German fare and wares in a pub-style setting Best Bets: Currywurst, wiener schnitzel, Reuben sandwich, spätzle Hours: 11am-10pm Mon-Thu; 11am-11pm Fri-Sat; 11am-9pm Sun Price: $6.29-$7.99 lunch; $5.99-$22.99 dinner
“I didn’t expect to stay in the service industry,” Ware says. He started in March as a bartender where he trained under Sasha Petraske*.
“I would read about four or five spirits a night. I’d take notes, watch videos. I’d read every book I’d get my hand on written over the past 100 years,” Ware says. “Luckily, Bohanan’s is the best place to work for anybody that’s willing to learn. There’s no ceiling. If you’re not an idiot, and you take advantage of that, it’s a great education.”
His role as head bartender ended in 2012 when he left to help open Arcade’s bar, where he honed the speakcraft concept. “That’s what we had at Arcade. Two wells, and we were pumping out more than enough drinks [at restaurant capacity]. It’s about how you set yourself up for success and how you design a bar. It’s your cockpit. You can’t move, people have to be there helping you, helping you expedite, but one guy can pour 40 to 60 cocktails an hour, as well as pouring beer and wine with no problem.”
Ware met Phipps at Arcade, where Ware credits “having really good booze” as one of the reasons they’ve partnered for Paramour. “He and his friends would come in and try to stump the bartender.” The two-month will-they, won’t-they turned into an invite to help design Paramour within Ware’s dream specifications, no expenses spared.
Ware’s brought on board a gaggle of industry badasses, including, but not limited to, his No. 2 David Rangel, who’s curated a 100-bottle wine and Champagne* list and will run the front of house; Bohanan’s alumni Andrew Hack and Jake Corney will join the bartending staff and bring their hand-chipped ice to Paramour; and artist Amada Claire Miller has been brought on to direct graphic elements. An interesting addition to the staff is Lorenzo Morales, former sous chef at Arcade, who joins Paramour as Shrub Chef, an almost unheard of position, who will work on all scratch-made bitters, shrubs and juices.
Although Ware is plenty playful, the list of rules that have been handed down to the staff (after being combed over by his attorneys) presents another tone. This is, after all, a business. I sat in on a staff training and insurance information session—yes, employees at Paramour will all be offered healthcare—where a more serious, cerebral Ware peeks through. He’s orchestrating a show that includes 10 to 20 cocktails, 10 craft beers on tap, 10 bombers, 40 craft bottles and cans*, 100 wines and 1,000 spirits. Then there’s the Cage, a collection of rare and über-expensive bottles (a $6,000 Cognac drink was mentioned), a still undisclosed food component and the outdoor bar, which will rotate themes seasonally. The first theme will pack in mescals from the opening date through January.
“The idea behind being a good manager is that you’re a director. Directing the actors that are on the stage. If you can direct people for the show, and [you’re] engaging and people are enjoying themselves the show is working. It’s all about the charisma and intelligence to know what’s the difference. To see if the customer is enjoying themselves, or not, it’s really about situational awareness.”
There’s still plenty of work to be done before Paramour opens its doors (and the date is still not entirely set in stone); Ware and co. are already working 100 hours a week, before Paramour even lets its first customers in. His Google calendar is replete with appointments and meetings (if it’s not in my calendar, it doesn’t exist, he says), and he’s meeting for tasting, after tasting, after tasting with brand reps across SA and Austin. He hopes to expand peoples’ palates and perception of the area with Paramour, an adult affair.
“You know what’s cool? Having the ability to show people what’s really out there, and show them how to get out of the college mindset. Who will it benefit? People want to be exposed to things.”
* The article has been changed to reflect the correct dates of service for Ware; his training under Sasha Petraske; and updated wine count; and square footage of Paramour