Friday, August 13, 2010

Villains Tavern: Downtown Dangerous

Villains Tavern opened last month in the Downtown Arts District, not far from Tony's Saloon and Church & State Bistro. The new bar from Dana Hollister has a bar inside with a giant gothic church window behind it reconfigured as a mirror (pictured above) and church pews outisde. The eye catching space also has an extensive patio with an additional bar serving beer and shots and more than 25 beers on tap.

The location is somewhat isolated but has the element of a hidden discovery about it. The steampunk decor is truly unique, unlike anywhere else in town. When you enter the doorway to the patio from the parking lot, you leave downtown behind and enter the world of Hollister's imagination.

Dave Whitton (pictured above), formerly of Seven Grand, created the cocktail list, which as of last week had ten beverages. Cocktails are named in accordance with the Villainous theme, with names such as the Belladonna, Fatal Hour and Poison Apple. I sampled the Fatal Hour, described as "A Rittenhouse Manhattan with an Evil Twist." The evil twist in this case was chocolate bitters, although one of the bartenders said she is continually asked whether absinthe is the secret ingredient.

Whitton said he looked to make his drinks both delicious and accessible, so that customers could enjoy them so much, they'd be happy to order drink after drink off of the list, rather than stick with their standard orders.

A signature element of the drinks menu is the Mix & Match, in which customers get a jar of beer with a shot of alcohol for only $8. There are 20 options each for the beer and booze, which is a great selection. The choices include such beers as Deschutes Porter, Lagunitas IPA, Stella and Racer 5 in addition to mass market beers such as Pabst and Bud Light. Shot selections include Rittenhouse 100 Rye, Elijah Craig Bourbon and Fernet Branca for the medicinal enthusiasts.

There is also a premium Mix and Match for $14 with Guinness, Old Rasputin, Maredsous 10, Chimay, Lucifer, Affligem, Spaten Optimator and Framboise as the premium options.

In addition to the extensive beverage menu, Villains also offers a pub food menu of burgers, hot dogs, grilled cheese sandwiches, french fries etc.

Villains tavern is open Wednesday - Saturday from 5:30 pm - 2 am, with live music nightly. The outdoor patio looks to be an excellent spot to chill, enjoy a nice beverage and listen to some tunes.

Villains Tavern: 1356 Palmetto @ Santa Fe, Downtown. Phone: (213) 613-0766. Website:

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