Entertainment & Events

Gaslamp Nightlife Hotspot – The Syrah Secret

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Just below the hustle of the gaslamp lies a surreal underground world that could have only been conjured up by the wildest of imaginations-or in this case, by the collaborative efforts of club owner Matt Spencer and maverick designer Michael Soriano- twin masterminds behind the unprecedented Vin De Syrah wine bar.

Both took it upon themselves to ensure that the trip into this rabbit hole begins right at street level.

I fell into this whimsical world entirely by accident one night: It all started when some girlfriends and I were walking down 5th Avenue when a gentleman standing at the top of an empty staircase coyly invited us to what he promised would be the ultimate wine bar experience.

Unable to resist the mystery, we took the bait.

However, something was off: From street level, the place seemed slightly unwelcoming if not all together forsaken– graffiti-laden walls and a rusty railing led the way down a dirty staircase to what appeared to be nothing more than a subterraneous dead end.

Then we spotted it: A door! Or was it? What appeared to perhaps be an entrance of some sort was completely covered in a bright green artificial foliage yet possessed no visible handle by which to enter. What? After a great deal of prolonged confusion, we finally figured out how to enter the bar, and upon doing so discovered the passageway into a spellbinding world of fictitious proportions…

Once inside, our bleary eyes beheld the beautiful sight of throngs of people grooving to acid jazz among the grass covered walls decorated with larger-than-life butterflies and flowers; the thick, sun-bleached wood vines, asymmetrical firefly lamps, and umbrellas that hung from the ceiling; the long wooden tables all set for the impromptu tea party; and even a corner that resembled a quirky professor’s study complete with a book-stacked fireplace, high-backed plush chairs, and a life-sized painting of a garden.

A DJ was spinning trance-inducing ambience tracks behind the bar where mixologists were whipping up every imaginable variety of concoction ranging from specialty drinks to infused vodkas to clearly, an abundance of wine. Also on the menu: a variety of cheese, meat, and dessert plates served on oblong wooden platters.

It was official: We had walked into a dream.

Syrah is a Tim Burton film set within an English garden. It is Alice in Wonderland meets the Blue Bayou. It pays respect to the vintage while boldly paving the way for the avant-garde. It is over-the-top eccentric yet does so with style and grace.

Bottom line, it has reformed the downtown urban lounge.

However, descriptions ultimately fall short of describing this clandestine bar that is as irresistibly unconventional as it is enchanting, and one must descend down the rabbit hole in order to truly experience this intriguing little world that is as guaranteed to stimulate the imagination as much as it does the senses.


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