If you don’t pay attention, the Vista can be a tricky place to navigate. What used to be here is now there and what used to be there isn’t there at all.
Take, for example, the Arnold properties that occupy the 700 and 800 blocks of Gervais Street. The complex has seen a string of nightclubs and businesses come and go, but when City Bar and Fondue opened roughly two months ago, they aimed to offer a Parisian-style menu with staying power.
According to Tyler Hucks, a bartender who’s been there since the opening, the drink menu is in a constant state of flux, keeping the staff on their toes and making for a great variety for guests. Broken down into categories of cocktails, mules, beer, dessert drinks and wine, Hucks said the martinis and mules are the biggest sellers.
“We have a $5 menu of martinis that people like to work their way through,” he said. “The Aviation is very popular with anybody who likes gin. The Absolut flirtini and the paradise martini we fly through, as well as the pineapple express. We go through pineapple juice faster than anything. And we juice all these things by hand.”
As for the mules, Hucks said the Mandarin and Jamaican mules are the most popular so far.
“The Jamaican mule is a standard take on a Moscow mule but instead of vodka you use a Jamaican rum,” he said. “The Mandarin is basically a Moscow mule but with a Mandarin vodka. Gives it a little orange to go with all the lime and ginger.”
Other popular cocktails include the basil smash, made with Basil Hayden’s Bourbon, simple syrup and fresh mint; the ginger mojito that combines Cruzan aged light rum, ginger simple syrup, muddled lime and mint, and topped off with ginger beer; and the peach raz margarita, a blend of Grand Marnier raspberry peach, Espolon Blanco tequila, and sour and lime.
“They’re all very different,” Hucks said. “We can do all of your standard cocktails, and then we’ve got a lot of things that we’ve taken a classic cocktail and either added something or taken something away or switched it to make it a little different. It keeps us challenged, having to learn new drinks every couple of weeks.”
General manager Mike Grieshammer, who works closely with the owner and bartenders to keep the cocktail menu fresh, added that bargoers are drawn to well-known drinks with updated twists.
“Drinks that were popular a hundred years ago may have been popular for a reason, and that doesn’t mean we can’t put a creative and innovative spin on them,” he said. “We’re making them more accessible to today’s drinkers and diners.”
The drink menu has changed three times since opening, with a fourth variation on the way. “We’re still bouncing around ideas for drinks that make the public happy,” Grieshammer said.
“Every time we get a new menu there’s always a few cocktails that make it over from the last,” Hucks added. “We listen to customer input and tweak the drink depending on what needs to be done to make it a better. Our goal is to get you to come back.”
This place is not only a fondue, it’s a must do.
If you go
City Bar and Fondue
Where: 700 Gervais St. in the Vista
When: 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Thursday, 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday