If you haven’t been home brewing or learning French cooking or house flipping in the past couple decades, then you’re in the minority. We are DIY-obsessed these days, and thanks to the good ol’ interwebs, we can learn how to do just about anything, including teaching your cat how to high-five.
The new Nowhere Lounge in Kenmore embodies this DIY zeitgeist. Co-owners and service industry pros Jason and Julie Wood have a craft cocktail concept they’ve galvanized from the floor up. Yes, they developed the cocktail menu, but Jason actually built the bar with his own two hands.
In addition to a massive sense of accomplishment, the Woods have a space that’s custom-tailored and based partly on Jason’s two decades of experience in the service industry. For example, the bar stations are set up to handle fast-paced service.
“Most of the time, when someone is building a bar, it’s not a bartender or someone that’s been in the industry,” Jason Wood says. “It’s usually someone outside the industry that is getting in. Sometimes, they don’t get things right.”
“We are set up to win,” he adds.
But Nowhere Lounge is about far more than expert service. Far, far more. We’ll spare you the hacky joke about Nowhere Lounge being somewhere you want to be, and just say that it is a destination and an experience. Seventies-inspired décor is designed to transport you back to the lounges of your parents and grandparents. With a bar having been at the address since the 70s, Wood said it made perfect sense to evoke that era.
Nowhere Lounge will also be a destination for its cocktails. With Wood having cut his bartending teeth at the iconic Vera — known for locally kicking off the craft cocktail revival — expect the drinks at the new lounge to be made with an expert touch. Wood says he’ll likely stick to classics and some inspired riffs. Expect the unexpected, but drinks that are still approachable.
“I’m interested in some of the gastronomy stuff you see happening in the cocktail world,” he says. “But that might not be our style. We’re going to make some approachable things with maybe some odd vermouths or amaro.”
“People will be able to try some different stuff and see that: all rum isn’t created equal, all tequila isn’t created equal, same with bourbon, rye and everything else,” he adds.
If you’re thinking that Nowhere Lounge is going to be packed with people trying to get one hand on a great cocktail, you’d be mistaken. The lounge has a 34-person seating capacity and Wood says it’s seating room-only. That doesn’t mean you can’t stand at the bar, but it does mean you won’t be standing three people deep as you wait to get a drink.
“Over my 22-plus years of working in restaurants and bars, the biggest thing for me has been being able to take care of customers,” Wood explains. “Part of that is having low overhead, and part is having a small staff that is well trained and consistent.”
If you don’t like cocktails, there’s also a small selection of wines and beer. Because there’s no kitchen, the lounge will only have small bar snacks. The opening day menu had cheese and cracker plates, “lunchables”, hummus plates and pulled pork sandwiches. There are plans for cocktail classes once the lounge gets past the opening phase. There’s also a cocktail club that gets you a custom rocks glass, exclusive deals and more, for $150.
It ain’t the fanciest joint in town, but Nowhere Lounge has got it where it counts. For Jason and Juile Wood, the new bar is all about bringing a vision to life and doing it with their own four hands.
“We were able to fully realize our vision because there aren’t any other partners,” Jason says. “This was my wife and I putting together everything ourselves. Whatever we wanted to do creatively, we were able to make it happen.”
There are no set hours yet but look out for days open in their stories posted on Instagram: @nowherecocktaillounge
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