Vodka’s out. Wine is in! Oh sure, you can still get Goose’d at Lavo on Thursdays, but beginning March 26, bottle service will never be the same.
For years, Rock ‘n Roll Wine founders Chris Hammond and Sonny Barton have been making wine tasting approachable for the masses, hosting events everywhere from Hammond’s living room to the Arts Factory downtown to top nightclubs and restaurants all over the Valley. Finally coming one step closer to their ultimate goal of creating a bricks and mortar Rock ‘n Roll Wine bar, the duo is setting down roots on the Strip with a permanent prime time weekly affair.
Every Rock ‘n Roll Wine Lounge Thursday night at Lavo Nightclub, guests will be able to experience five featured wines including RNRW’s own labels, The Grotto and Reggae Rhapsody, plus three ever-changing world wines paired—according to RnRW’s foremost tenet—with an eclectic mix of musical genres such as indie, alternative rock, hip-hop and reggae and, of course, a food station with cheese, hummus, pita, etc. “That formula has proven itself,” says Hammond, who spoke exclusively to the Weekly from Napa. While there he will be tasting the newest vintages of The Grotto and Reggae Rhapsody with the owner of the Fantesca Winery in St. Helena where they lease—almost like a time-share—the right to the machinery to make their wine along with a few other forward-thinking winemakers.
VIP tables at Lavo will be available for a wallet-friendly $100 minimum, with wines being available by the glass or as part of the $100 Rock ‘n Roll Wine flight, which serves up a half-bottle (375ml carafe) of each of the wines. One or two wines will be served as the opening act via an open bar from 9-10 p.m. as the DJ starts in goes until the wee hours. A live acoustic show will be scheduled for every three to four weeks.
Not to be confused with RnRW’s big monthly live music events, which change venue each time (the next one will be April 3 at Body English), Thursdays at Lavo are aimed at introducing a whole new clientele of wine-lovers and soon-to-be wine-lovers to wine by way of a supportive, low-pressure environment. Choosing Lavo for its unique characteristic of being a club with a laid-back feel, Hammond says operating partner “Jason [Strauss] saw that we have a unique concept. He gets it.”
But don’t expect any cheesy club gimmick’s, stresses Hammond—no Playmate hosts, no reality TV starlets—just good wine, good music and good friends. “If we can get people sampling these wines by the way we present it … people start playing around with wine, discovering their palate. Sonny and I have prided ourselves on changing the paradigm of how people experience wine and that is the main thing we are trying to accomplish through this event.”
Still, they have not given up on the plans for a permanent home. “I would give it 18 months,” says Hammond. “The concept is there. We just need the right deal. We also need the economy to turn around a little.”