New Sherman Oaks Cocktail Bar Tunnel Bar Opens Tonight!

During last week’s heat wave, I got a sneak preview of Sherman Oaks‘ newest cocktail bar, Tunnel Bar. Set to open tonight, my comments to friends after testing and trying almost every cocktail in sultry space was, “it was a 105-degree day, but the Valley just got cooler.”

The entrance is in the alley behind Tipple & Brine. There are no signs and no foot traffic to rely on. A risky plan, but the fun of looking for the “blue light” to find the entrance makes it feel sneaky and exclusive. Like many new cocktail bars, the concept is adjacent to the speakeasy craze, but instead a throwback to the 1970s music eras in New York and LA, with an elevated style that you feel from the moment you enter. At various times during the evening, my friends and I forgot where we were, and it wasn’t just from the cocktails.

The “Tunnel” is a tribute to New York City’s Battery Tunnel and perfectly frames the bar, a small and intimate space with dim lighting, a handful of high cocktail tables, and comfy red leather lounge seating in the rest of the space.

Check out some of the decor and photos on the walls too, where you’ll find a nod to some of music’s greatest rock stars. The idea behind the cocktail menu was to recreate many “forgotten” cocktail recipes and add some originals too.

It’s a perfect addition to the Valley’s growing number of craft cocktail bars that are giving some of the westsiders a reason to come over the hill. It’s cocktails only — “we wanted this to feel and smell like a bar, not a restaurant,” said Adam Weisblatt, director of operations and one of the cocktail menu’s creators. Those wishing to dine before imbibe can do so at Tipple & Brine, downstairs. Behind both new hot spots is Richard DiSisto, Principal of Vantage Restaurant Group.

“I always knew I was going to build out a brick tunnel, much like the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel I grew up with. I wanted to mesh the look of a tunnel with the glam rock vibe I once felt at Max’s Kansas City in New York. It was there that you would walk in and see the legends of the early 70’s like Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Lou Reed and the New York Dolls. This legendary hangout helped launch the careers of Bruce Springsteen, Aerosmith and Bob Marley. I wanted to bring back that raw energy and grittiness that was iconic to New York City during that time period.  There was a certain attitude I wanted to convey when I was designing Tunnel Bar, and I wanted to recreate the emotion from that time period, by piecing together all of the design elements.”

“Tunnel Bar’s cocktail program is devised to showcase how quality ingredients, fresh juices and established technique can change one’s preconceived notion of some of America’s forgotten cocktail recipes,” Weisblatt said. “We wanted to cast the spotlight on some of the more beloved, yet unusual cocktails that symbolize fun and revelry, rather than what symbolizes traditional cocktail culture currently.”

Translation: Think Alabama Slammers and Hurricanes, over Martinis and Manhattans.

Weisblatt assembled an all-star band of professionals to perform live each night behind the stick at Tunnel Bar. Daniel Zacharczuk (Tipple & Brine, Varnish and Honeycut) will be spearheading the cocktail program, while working alongside some of L.A.’s top barmen including Christopher Day (Tipple & Brine and Honeycut), and Edwin Osegueda (Caña Rum Bar) just to name a few.

Together, they’ve established a hot list of cocktails, including some Reimagined Classics, Celebratory Beverages, Tunnel Bar Originals, and a selection of Punches. Much like you would likely find in your parent’s old record collection, this selection of cocktails showcases a range from classic to rock.  You discover those immortal elixirs we all know and love, beverages of bygone eras, and celebratory favorites guaranteed to pack a little extra “punch.”

Kicking off the list of Reimagined Classics spanning the late 1800s to the early 1900s is the Elder Fashioned; a take on the Old Fashioned, with Plymouth gin, St. Germain, orange bitters and a grapefruit twist. Then, there is the Cuba Reformé, a spin on the classic Cuba Libre that pairs Plymouth Sloe Gin, coke, lime and Angostura bitters. Next up is a modern take on the French 75, which is a classic named after the World War II field gun, made with Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, Beefeater Gin, lemon and bubbles. The Stinger, created in 1917 and once considered an ideal nightcap in New York City, is comprised of Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, Tempus Fugit Crème de Menthe, Dolin Dry Vermouth and mint. Of course, this time period wouldn’t be complete without the Gimlet with Perry’s Tot Gin and lime.

To turn up the volume on some of last century’s Celebratory Beverages, Tunnel Bar will feature cocktails like the Hurricane, a refreshing blend of El Dorado 5 year rum, Appleton Estate V/X Rum, Plantation 3 Stars Silver Rum, passion fruit, orange, lime and grenadine. Also, amping up the original, the Alabama Slammer is comprised of Lazzaroni Amaretto, Plymouth Sloe Gin, Plantation 3 Stars Silver Rum, fresh orange and lime juice.

Sure to climb the charts are Weisblatt’s and Zacharczuk’s Tunnel Bar Originals, introducing new cocktails such as the Sister Ray with Rittenhouse Rye, Appleton Estate V/X Rum, Lustau Sherry Dry Amontillado, Velvet Falernum and Angostura bitters. The Vasco Rickey, which is a blend of Olmeca Altos blanco tequila, Amaro Montenegro, Licor 43, lime and seltzer, and the producer favorite off the list is the Pacific Profiteer with Encanto Pisco, lemon, nutmeg and Kübler Absinthe.

A combination of classic and original Punches that really rev up the crowd!  Served over a giant block of ice, these Punches are perfect for groups of two to six to share. For starters, there is the Zeine Punch that combines Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, Maraschino, pineapple and lime, followed by the Red Lemon Branch Punch with Bulleit Bourbon, Campari, lemon, grapefruit and champagne. Lastly, the Fish House Punch will feature Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac, El Dorado 5-year rum, Smith & Cross Rum, Giffard Crème Pêche de Vigne, lemon and seltzer. “The Fish House Punch is the rock legend amongst all of the punches,” says Weisblatt. “We wanted to serve the most iconic and classic Americana punch we could think of. This particular punch dates back to 1732, and was originally concocted at a Philadelphia fishing club.

Tunnel Bar will be open every Thursday through Saturday from 8:00 pm to 2:00 am. For more information or reservations, call 828.528.3434.

(Secret Entrance behind Tipple & Brine. Look for the Blue Light.)

14633 Venture Boulevard, Sherman Oaks

www.TunnelBarLA.com

Photo Credit:  acuna-hansen

About Lindsay Taub:
Lindsay Taub is an LA-based writer/editor who covers travel, lifestyle, culture, music/arts, food, wellness, and more. She calls Los Angeles home when she's there, but prefers to leave the city for the mountains and open spaces as often as possible. She loves cooking, gardening, live music, hiking with her three rescue dogs, and rustic luxury. Follow her on instagram/twitter @lindsaytaub and follow the Pacific Punch @ThePacificPunch or email lindsaytaub58@gmail.com. Learn more at www.lindsaytaub.com and www.voyagevixens.com .***

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