5 Best Outdoor Wine Bars in the US
What goes best with a glass of crisp Torrontés or sultry Syrah? A postcard-worthy view, of course, whether it is a sleek bridge, downtown skyline, waterfront, or the Rocky Mountains. From Brooklyn to San Francisco—including the Heartland and Mountain West—there are a handful of wine bars where the wine list is just as impressive as the view.
The Yard at the Iron Horse Hotel
Details: Underneath bright-orange sailcloths, sink into mod sectionals at The Yard (inside a four-year-old industrial-chic hotel) and soak up the view of downtown Milwaukee's skyline (with a bridge in the foreground). A vertical garden is also in the 4,000-square-foot space. New Chef Grant Slaughterbeck rolled out a new food menu in spring. From lobster deviled eggs to foie-gras popcorn balls hereâ€™s an edible to match every wine on the 100-bottle-strong list. Sixteen wines are available by the glass, including 2008 Three Saints Cabernet Sauvignon, which hails from a new Central Coast AVA called Happy Canyon.
Insider Tip: A Sunday-afternoon music series—Sunday Sounds—starts at 2 pm and wraps around 5 pm, bringing a mix of local musicians (from honky-tonk to reggae) into the outdoor space.
Brooklyn Bridge Wine Bar
Brooklyn, New York
Details: Brooklyn proves it is ever hip with this waterfront wine bar—Brooklyn Bridge Wine Bar—that opened three years ago. Look for it on Pier 1 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The best part is the view of lower Manhattan, but from a quieter, more relaxed setting than on the bridge itself. A handful of wines are available by the glass, including a Riesling hailing from Finger Lakes, NY. Looking beyond the States the refreshing-wine selections also include sparkling Rose from France, Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and an Italian Pinot Grigio. Don't think you're just getting a glass of wine here: the food menu includes indulgent options like fried oysters and an ice-cream sundae.
Insider Tip: On weekends, sip wine with pastries from Dough in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
Chambers eat + drink
San Francisco, California
Details: Boasting the only poolside patio in San Fran—complete with cabanas, bright-orange chairs, and a fire pit to ward of chilly nights—Chambers eat + drink is within the Phoenix, a rock-n-roll-themed hotel in the edgy Tenderloin district. Open since the spring of 2011, chef Trevor Ogden's small-bites dinner and weekend brunch menu is practically made for wine. Seventeen wines are poured by the glass, from a Santa Cruz Mountains Petite Sirah to a Loire Valley Chenin Blanc, many from lesser-known producers. Just less than 40 by-the-bottle options span California and the Old World (particularly Italy, France, and Spain). From tater-tots dusted with bacon and dabbed with pork remoulade to a coffee-cake bite (lavender meringue, crème-fraiche frosting, pecans, and aged balsamic ice-cream), there are also "big bites" that include duck breast with pastrami spices.
Insider Tip: Sundays mean more than just brunch: take in the Summer Sunday Series, which features live music from 1 pm to 6 pm, and a BBQ that begins at 2 pm.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Details: At Wine Bacchanal, in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, every glass of wine comes with nightly live jazz in their huge, heavily landscaped courtyard. A hefty cheese selection makes it easy to design a plate to enjoy with your wine. Or, go large with dishes cooked by chef Joaquin Rodas, such as drum-fish ceviche or zucchini bread as a side to crab meat. The owners dub the place, open since 1998 in a 200-year-old building, "a wine laboratory" and no wonder: from 11 am to midnight the wine flows and patrons are encouraged to play around with pairings. Much of what gets sold here are Old World wines from small producers, with budget-friendly prices.
Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar
Highlands Ranch, Colorado
Details: Deep into this Denver suburb, 30 wines by the glass, fire pits, and mountain views are at Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar. Wines are stored inside floor-to-ceiling glass temperature-controlled cases. An impressive line-up of nine flights carries names like Sugar Rush and Aromatherapy, plus 43 wines are poured by the glass in either 6- or 9-ounce pours. To pair with wines are tapas that include charcuterie platters, cured olives, dessert samplers, and flatbread pizzas with quirky names like Tony Soprano or John Wayne. The best seat in the house is on the outdoor patio but even in inclement weather the view is stunning thanks to tall windows.
Insider Tip: Indulge Wine School is an offshoot of the bistro and wine bar. Pick up an e-book all about wine for $9.99 here.
Kristine Hansen is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee where she reports on food, wine, and travel topics around the globe for Fodors.com, along with new-hotel openings. She also writes for Wine Enthusiast, TIME, Whole Living and American Way. In 2006 she co-authored The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coffee and Tea (Alpha Books/Penguin). You can follow her on Twitter @kristineahansen or through her web site.
Photo Credits: The Yard at the Iron Horse Hotel: Courtesy of The Iron Horse Hotel; Brooklyn Bridge Wine Bar: Sam Horine; Chambers eat + drink: Courtesy of Chambers; Bacchanal Wine: Courtesy of Bacchanal Wine; Indulge Bistro & Wine Bar: Courtesy of Indulge Wine Bar
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