Booze Nooze

Things change often enough in the competitive booze scene in Columbus that, before you’ve set your drink down, something new is already in the works for your favorite bars and brands. This month is no different:

Poppin’ Bottles

Before every bar was slinging craft cocktails and fat-washing bourbon, Columbus was once a land of flavored vodkas and whatever-tinis.

The boys at Middle West Spirits had a vision to change all that back in 2009, launching a spirits company that set the tone for the booze and brand-conscious folk in this new era of our city.

So, for their 10th anniversary, they’re getting themselves something nice: new glassware. Bottles, to be exact. The old OYO bottles—standard, squat, wax-dipped—are out. A dynamic new lineup is in. The vodka bottles (standard, stone fruit, etc.) stand tall and thin, as vodka bottles should. The whiskey is more stout, but also more angular than its predecessor. More ornate. The new labels, due for a full launch in 2019, are brassy and clean, and the stoppers are smarter and more elegant.

Lined up at Service Bar, the new branding fits right in with the décor, proving once again that the Middle West team has an eye for style.

But it’s not just updated the window-dressing: they’re giving all their products their own branding and titles. The group will retain OYO as their vodka’s namesake branding, but will drop it from the whiskey in favor of it being a simple offering from MWS alone. Their popular gin line will keep the Vim & Petal moniker.

“A milestone like this is a natural place to reflect and renew—on our past work, lessons learned, and new paths to be forged,” said Brady Konya, co-owner and General Manager of Middle West. “We’ve grown a lot over the past 10 years and it felt like this was the perfect window to re-imagine our brand through fresh, forward-looking eyes.”

Again, Curio A-Go

Curio is dead. Long-live Curio? The city’s most widely heralded and publicized cocktail bar shut down this summer, in part, as a regroup for Grow Restaurant Group (Harvest, The Sycamore, Cosecha) after the exit of cocktail expert and part-owner Travis Owens. It was a difficult pill to swallow, as after six years, Curio had cemented itself as a mainstay, a critical part of German Village social life, a destination. Being at Curio was an occasion unto itself; seeing it die was like having a friend move away.

But, even without Owens and the former staff—many moving on to their own spots and projects, after becoming bars stars of their own—Grow CEO Chris Crader and Harvest German Village GM Monique Musarra will be reopening Curio under the same name in the middle of this month. Kyle Cownden (Buckeye Bourbon House, Palle, Mouton) will take over the spot’s cocktail program, pledging to uphold Owens’ commitment to sustainability and quality, but with an eye toward approachability.

No doubt Curio will feel like a different version of itself, but cheers to the doors re-opening on a spot that no doubt wants to regain its place as a training ground for top cocktail creators and customers alike. Curio at Harvest will re-open October 15.

House Renovation

House Beer popped up in 2012 in the heart of the Short North to the delight of those of us not looking for a photo booth or extreme fajitas to accompany our pints. Navigating the prices for take-home beers can be tricky for the under-educated, but the ambience is awfully cozy and provides a nice off-the-path alternative to catch a game or catch up with friends. While the space next door has gone from frozen custard to a deli to a boutique book store (coming soon), House Beer has held its ground, proving that a good spot for good beer is pretty much bulletproof.

Still, ownership has seen the opportunity to spruce the place up and rebrand, so goodbye House Beer, hello Bourbon and Barley Saloon.

Like many establishment runners in the ever-evolving district, a format change was dictated by the changing needs of customers in the Short North. The cozy confines House Beer regulars flocked to will mostly remain, along with the take-out coolers, but now will offer an elevated selection of cocktails and spirits—12 different cocktails including vintage favorites and contemporary craft beer concoctions, upwards of 80 different beers and 20 varieties of bourbon.

“We kept it for the time being because that’s how the neighborhood and the regulars knew us,” owner Tom Kincaid said. “As the neighborhood is changing and growing, it felt like the right time to make it our own and offer something new. Looking at trends in the beverage industry, more people are trending toward bourbon and liquor so we decided to add them to provide more creative options and enhance the beer selection we already had.”

The new Bourbon and Barley Saloon (843 N High St.) will have its grand opening October 6. Doors open at 2 p.m. with drink specials on deck for $2 off beer flights and Old Fashioneds and Manhattans for $8.

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Travis Hoewischer

I've been working in journalism in central Ohio for more than a decade, and have been lucky enough to be a part of (614) Magazine since the very first issue. Proud to live in a city that still cares – and still reads.

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