V-vin bar: They Have Cocktails? Who Knew?

— by Caroline on Crack


After being turned away from Hidden — apparently they were having a private grand opening…after being open for nearly two months now, go figure — Nancy and I decided to fall back on Plan B: check out Valentino‘s newish wine bar, V-vin bar.

Flickr Shot by Tiny NancerTouted as the casual, more affordable section of the very formal and expensivo Valentino Italian Restaurant, the wine bar offers discounts on wine, a bar menu ranging in price from the $5 parmesan chips to the $25 salumi and antipasti platter, and, to my surprise, a specialty cocktail list.

I had originally come in to try a glass of wine but when I opened the menu to find the cocktails, all bets were off. (I couldn’t find a glass of red for under $10 anyway. Yes, I’ll spend $10+ on cocktails but not on a glass of wine.)

Here are just a few of the cocktails available:

  • Limoncello Drop ($12): Ketel One Citroen, Limoncello, lemon and prosecco
  • The Saint Germain ($12): Tanqueray Ten with Saint Germain elderflower liqueur and Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chocolate @ 3115 ($11): Espresso, Frangelico, Godiva chocolate liqueur and cream, rimmed with chocolate cake (?!)
  • Tequilissimo ($12): Porfidio Tequila, Kahlua, cream and a Valentino chocolate hazelnut truffle

There were a total of seven concoctions listed but James, the actor/bartender, said that they were actually in the Flickr Shot by Tiny Nancerprocess of updating the menu so would add more drinks in the future. He wouldn’t say when, though.

In any case, the drink I ordered was good enough for me. At $16 the Bourbon 1972 cocktail was a bit more than I’d usually like to spend on a drink but after reading that it contained Blantons single barrel bourbon and homemade vanilla fig puree, I couldn’t resist.

This thing was yum! And a bit sweeter than I had expected as James had initially sold it to me as a “Manhattan with vanilla.” (Apparently they don’t use the vanilla fig puree anymore, just vanilla.)

It didn’t have the potent bite of a Manhattan as the sweetness of the vanilla syrup or whatever it was had softened that edge. I could have easily knocked that baby back but restrained myself to savor its honeyed goodness.

Nancy had ordered a variation of the Frizzantino, which, according to the menu, is usually made up of strawberries muddled with balsamic and mixed with lemonade and prosecco. But James made it his own by keeping only the strawberries and prosecco and adding rum and Vermouth as well in order to make it sweeter. However it also made it stronger than Nancy had anticipated and so she could only finish a quarter of it. He tried to 1898458835_b46ab992c3_m.jpgadd grenadine afterward but that just made it even sweeter.

For the record, I had tasted it pre-grenadine and found it too tart for my liking even with the sweeter ingredients, but that could have just been due to my having such a sweet cocktail of my own beforehand.

On this Tuesday night, the bar was mellow. We were able to enjoy our gnocchi entree (which we ordered off the restaurant menu) while chatting with James and some of the other wait staff and keeping an eye on the Lakers game on the TV hanging in the corner.

There were about seven tables in V-vin and six barstools at the bar, but only about four other patrons in the joint. It made for a nice relaxing vibe.

I could see coming here for cocktails on a date if you want to escape the loud situations of the other bars down the street (i.e. Arsenal, Santa Monica Bar & Grill and Air Conditioned). It may be pricier than its neighbors but it’s intimate, the lighting is flattering AND you can feed each other some first-class nibbles if you’re so inclined.

PS: I broke my camera so had to borrow Nancy’s again. Click here for more pics of V-vin bar.

Valentino Italian Restaurant
3115 Pico Boulevard
Santa Monica, California 90405 (map)
(310) 829-4313