By Ryan Wynne
It’s not the wine bar-bookstore combo Laurie Bartlett envisioned two years ago, but with its extensive wine-by-the-glass list and strikingly innovative martini menu, The Fireside Martini & Wine Bar could be a dream come true for locals looking to shake things up.
The Fireside, which officially opened its doors May 1, is also a welcome newcomer for employees and residents in the Bakerview area who don’t like traveling far for after-work happy hours. It is located in the Bakerview Square Shopping Center at 416 W. Bakerview Road, and according to general manager James Burback, is the only one of its kind on the north side of town.
Bartlett, who co-owns The Fireside with her husband, said the bookstore idea gradually morphed with time and her husband’s influence. The two also own Bakerview Square and a local property management company. She said he is a martini person and wanted to have date nights at a location they would both enjoy, and this way, the location is their own.
“So, we lost the books and gained the martinis,” Bartlett said.
While Bartlett’s husband is a martini person, Burback is a mad martini scientist. Burback doesn’t just pour drinks. He is a mixologist, cooking up new drink recipes behind the bar. He has mixed in New York, Chicago, Seattle and most recently Portland, and he studied wine in France.
Burback created the drink menu, which includes a rotating list of infusions made in house. One of the latest, a fennel and cucumber infused gin, shows Burback is a man of his word. He said a cocktail shouldn’t just be a cocktail — it should be an experience, and that experience shouldn’t be too serious. The elegant and clean, yet cozy interior could be seen as formal, but the John Wayne coasters and boot-shaped shot glasses show a sense of humor.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously here,” Burback said.
The Fireside’s offerings don’t end with drinks, though. There are five entrees that rotate every night and hand fulls of appetizers too. Menu items include food sourced from local producers, such as products from Quel Fromage, Old World Deli, Avenue Bread and Chocolate Necessities.
The Fireside also offers locally made wines and invites the public to meet the maker at the end of every month. In June, the focus with be on rosés.
“In July, it’s all about sangria,” Burback said.
The Fireside Martini & Wine Bar is open 3 p.m. to midnight Tuesdays through Thursdays and 3 p.m. To 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, visit www.firesidemartini.com or call (360) 738-1000.