Blueberry pop tarts smothered in a foie-gras-enriched sauce; popcorn served with jet-black huitlacoche-and-squid-ink butter; deviled eggs stuffed with steak tartare: Does this sound like just another RiNo bar? Kendra Anderson's Bar Helix opens tonight at 3440 Larimer Street with all this and more.
Anderson, a sommelier and former caterer better known to many as Swirl Girl Denver, had a cocktail-and-wine bar in mind when she began planning three years ago, but she also wanted a sexy place with a sense of fun and a little naughtiness, where guests could enjoy food as enticing as the drinks. "I just love to celebrate — to celebrate life," she says. And so Bar Helix is built with celebration in mind.
Mirrored surfaces, loungy seating and rich textures give a swanky ’70s vibe to the place, but with modern touches like concrete floors, graffitied columns and a bar aglow with champagne bubbles. The menu, too, straddles eras, with tater-tot waffles, an upgraded version of Chex mix, crab rangoon, and caviar served with Pringles. "It's trashy food, elevated," Anderson explains.
All this comes from a tiny kitchen helmed by chef John Hadala, who has been working with the owner to help bring her culinary vision to life.
But this is a bar, so drinks are the main thing. Wines, Anderson explains, are priced "democratically," with specific ranges that encourage guests to choose what they want rather than what's expected. Wines by the glass will all come in at $12, so you won't need to quibble over a buck or two one way or the other — allowing the varietal and region to guide your choice. And bottles will be grouped at $55, $75 and $95 rather than being scattered across that range at random intervals. "My whole goal is to make it approachable, fun and interactive," Anderson says of the roster.
Wines and cocktails alike will have "masculine" and "feminine" designations, giving drinkers an extra description beyond just the ingredients. "But we're having fun with that, because the idea of gender is so personal and flexible," she adds.
On the cocktail side of the roster, the Negroni — Anderson's favorite cocktail — will come in several variations, including the house blend served in an etched glass. There's even a Negroni doughnut hole on the dessert menu. Other food and drink will come with "soulmate" pairing suggestions.
Bar Helix will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight Tuesday through Saturday with room for 75 guests inside at the bar, community tables and a more private back room with cushy booths. For more photos, see our complete Bar Helix slideshow.
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