Friday, April 15, 2011

Kir Royale With Cheese

I am not too fond of mixed drinks. Back in my teens and twenties, when I was naive and far from a purist, I didn't have a problem walking up to a bar and ordering a Mojito, Margarita, vanilla Stolichnaya and Coke, Cuba Libre or Tom Collins with a splash of Cointreau. Now, however, I cringe at the thought of alcohol sharing a tumbler with juice or soft drinks or other less palatable liqueurs. I actually find it insulting since alcohol--be it whiskey, rum, tequila or vodka--should be served neat or (worst-case scenario) on the rocks. Hence, I prefer to stick to beer and wine (and whiskey on ice at weddings since its powers gets me moonwalking, spinning, flailing my arms and grabbing my crotch on the dance floor in no time.)

So you can only imagine my dismay when several weeks ago I walked into Silver Star to find My Zolpidem Supplier and her cousin each merrily sipping on a Kir Royale, a champagne and creme de cassis concoction. It's a wine bar, for God's sake! I whined. Then I foolishly realized they were waiting for The Wife, Ph.D., and me to select a bottle considering my faux expertise, which at the end of the night proved to be just that: a fraud. But, in my defense, the establishment did not help my case as purported wine authority among my fancy friends.

Silver Star Wine Bar is owned by Cava Nostra and is located in downtown Nicosia right across the street from the wine retail shop. According to the Brother-in-Law, the bar is housed in a former watering hole for call girls, horny patrons and other seedy characters. The pleasant outside smoking area consists of a few old oak barrels set on their sides to serve as tables, some stools and heat lamps. The inside, however, seems to have only been cosmetically retouched and remains a melange of Asian-inspired, Art Deco, Southwestern (Cowboy) and minimalist styles. I surmise that little thought went into decorating (God forbid renovating) and transforming the space into a thematically-consistent one. One room has a tall long table with a few stools and three lower tables in the back corner where a bright-lit silver-ish star hangs on the wall. The other room is dominated by a bar with a blue backdrop and mirrors, some scattered plants and what I think is a traditional Japanese umbrella hanging from the ceiling. Worst of all, the floors of the place, old fashioned spotted tiles vaguely reminiscent of hospital floors, add to the helter skelter.

Now to the crux of the matter: the wine list. Very underwhelming for a bar that is owned by a wine shop located just a short hop, skip and jump away. One would think that with access to an entire cellar one would have a lot more than roughly 25 bottles to pick from. The wine shop was open when we visited Silver Star so maybe we could have stumbled in, chosen a bottle not listed in the bar's menu and uncorked it across the street without the usual price markup. If this is the case, then it should be advertised somewhere since such an option would be awfully attractive to a broad spectrum of wine lovers.

We started off with either the 2006 or 2007 (The Wife, Ph.D., was note-taking and in her drunken stupor she mistakenly jotted down 2010, an impossibility unless we have access to a pimped-out Delorean DMC-12) Gran Sangre de Toro Reserva, a Garnacha Tinta, Mazuelo or Carignan, and Shiraz blend from Spain. Nose-wise, the wine was all over the place: charcoal, leather, guava, barnyard, herds of sheep under a light drizzle, pepper and burnt popcorn. In what will go down as one of the best vinous descriptors in the short history of this blog, My Zolpidem Supplier's cousin described the wine as smelling "like a dirty moist mop head and a brand new car." Taste-wise, it was dominated by red fruit and earth and really failed to tickle our palates.

The girls were so disappointed that I was rushed into picking a second bottle just to tone down their tongue-lashing. Continuing with the evening's Spanish theme, I selected the 2006 Marques de Riscal Reserva, a Tempranillo, Graciano and Mazuelo or Carignan blend, and again I let them down. I felt like the dorky bespectacled college freshman who gets a second chance in the backseat of a Honda CRV with the college's hot svelte head cheerleader and repeatedly stalls when transitioning from first to second gear and putters to a stop due to a massive oil leak. The wine had touches of red fruit, wet earth, dust, vanilla, cinnamon and dark chocolate, as well as green components including green peppers and spinach according to one of my female companions. So memorable that The Wife, Ph.D., and I enjoyably doused ourselves in the bull's blood.

By the end of the night, I slouched in that back room with my head down contemplating my demise. I had disappointed my wife and her friends. Perhaps it was time for me to abandon wine and focus instead on my forehand, serve and volleys, or develop a potent left-footed shot a la Roberto Carlos. Or possibly I am meant to escape to Madrid to live among my kind and study the role of religion in the lives of bereft Ecuadorian immigrants. Then again, maybe all life was trying to tell me that gloomy night was that sometimes a mixed drink doesn't sound so bad after all.

Whine On The Rocks Rating: 3 (On Potential Alone) Out Of 5 Sparkling Spatulas

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