A sprawling new cocktail bar, restaurant and event venue is now open in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District.
Urban Stillhouse, from the team behind Horse Soldier bourbon and the American Freedom Distillery, is now open for a curbed, reservation-only soft opening period, owner Meredith Koko said.
Plans for the building at 2232 Fifth Ave. S have been in the works for several years. Koko, whose family owns American Freedom Distillery, said the spot was originally slated to open this spring, but the opening was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The yawning 16,000-square-foot, bilevel building functions as both a bar, lounge, event space and tasting room. The sleek modern decor and aesthetic, which features handsome industrial touches, heavy metal and copper accents, was designed with distilleries in Scotland and Kentucky in mind.
Downstairs, the bar and dining area seats up to 150 people. The room is anchored by a large fireplace and outfitted with plush leather armchairs, rows of standing high-top tables and a long bar that faces windows looking into a tasting room where educational seminars, distilling workshops and tastings will be held. Upstairs, a brown spirits bar will feature a separate spirits menu with more than 200 specialty brown liquors from around the world.
Kenny Tufo, the former executive chef of Sea Salt St. Pete, is running the restaurant portion of the business, and the new American menu features a slight Southern twist with a nod to local ingredients, including a Brick Street Farms salad with beets, chickpeas and sheep’s milk feta ($11) and broiled gulf oysters topped with spinach Parmesan cream and squid ink bread crumbs ($13).
Starters and shareable snacks include a pimento cheese spread with sourdough toast and crudites ($10); crispy artichoke hearts with mint, Parmesan and aioli ($8); and a Key West pink shrimp ceviche with avocado, Peruvian peppers, cherry tomatoes and mint ($15). Larger plates and entrees include a ricotta gnocchi with wild mushrooms, arugula and a Tallegio sauce ($25); a cauliflower steak with a sweet vadouvan curry, chickpeas and a basil emulsion ($22); a Wagyu tri tip steak with fried rosemary potatoes and a Cabernet demi-glace ($29); and a Joyce Farms chicken served with turmeric braised leeks, herbed bread pudding and a bourbon shallot sauce ($28).
To curate the ambitious spirits-forward beverage program, Koko tapped veteran cocktail pro Dean Hurst, the former director of spirits for Bern’s Steakhouse. Horse Soldier bourbon, named for the legendary Green Berets who rode horses in Afghanistan after the attacks of 9/11, will be featured prominently on the menu.
The inaugural cocktail list, which Koko said will change seasonally, includes both classics and original creations, all of which are priced around $12, while flights of Horse Soldier bourbon will run $20.
Though the company’s signature bourbon will still be made off-site at the company’s Ohio-based distillery (soon to move to a $50 million expansion in Somerset, Ky.), the St. Pete location will operate a small distilling operation for limited runs of gin, vodka and rum to be used in Urban Stillhouse cocktails as well as educational seminars. Everything distilled at the St. Pete location will be for on-premise consumption or purchase, not distribution, Koko said.
For now, Urban Stillhouse will be open from 5 to 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays for brunch.
2232 Fifth Ave. S, St Petersburg. (727) 440-8040. theurbanstillhouse.com.