After moving to Columbus from Miami, Reynolds and Vasquez took a chance on the old Viking carryout in Victorian Village and transformed it into one of the city's most interesting cocktail bars.
Why They're Tastemakers
A couple years ago, Barbara Reynolds and German Vasquez were living in Miami and searching for the right place to open a comfortable cocktail bar and market with a patio. Family connections drew them to Central Ohio, and when the old Viking carryout in Victorian Village came up for sale, they took the chance to transform it into one of the city's most interesting cocktail bars. The Bottle Shop is a fascinating hybrid: One side still functions as a fluorescent-lit carryout with shaving cream and boxed dinners, while the other side is an eclectic hangout featuring cozy chairs, red picnic tables and a bar inlaid with pennies. Old movies show on the wall while the faint aroma of incense wafts through the air. “We want people to feel like they're in someone's living room,” Reynolds says, “so when I hear people making connections to places around the world that feel like home to them, I feel that we succeeded.”
With the city's cocktail scene expanding, imbibers of every ilk seek to revisit old favorites or discover new concoctions. Reynolds and Vasquez have created a cocktail haven (with an impressive 20 beers on tap) that's open to all. “We have always tried to distinguish The Bottle Shop by making each guest feel comfortable regardless of their spirits knowledge, what they look like or how much we guess they might want to spend,” Reynolds says. “You can come in and drink a $5 Fernet and High Life in a tuxedo or drink the most sophisticated cocktail on the menu in your pajama pants. You'll get treated the same either way, because that's what a good bar is really about.”
A Collaborative Spirit
Their dynamic cocktail menu is the result of a group effort. “The menus are always collaborative,” says Reynolds. “If any of my bartenders wants to come up with a cocktail, and it passes muster with all of us, it goes on the menu.” They also strive to introduce cocktail aficionados to a variety of spirits, so while Reynolds will gladly make you gin and tonics, she'll also push you to discover something new. “I try to represent the spirits I love, like pisco and rhum agricole, which you don't see on everyone's menus yet,” she says.
The Bottle Shop's bartenders' excitement to share new creations with guests is palpable. The menu changes with the seasons as they experiment with new tastes and spirits. Reynolds is most proud of their spring 2017 menu. “I'm really excited about Mr. Green Jeans, which is one of our spring cocktails,” Reynolds says. “It has Rhum JM Blanc, Green Chartreuse and a house-made matcha coconut syrup. The Green Chartreuse really sets off the flavor of the matcha, and the grassiness of the rhum agricole keeps it from going too sweet. Matcha powder was one of the more challenging ingredients to work with in terms of texture and flavor, so getting it right was especially satisfying.” Her excitement to create something that is both new and technically proficient is what makes The Bottle Shop worth repeat visits.