If things go as planned, Vesper Lounge, the latest Frank Bonanno venture in Capitol Hill, will open quietly tonight. Vesper Lounge occupies the former Lancer Lounge space that sits between Mizuna and Bones , both restaurants that Bonanno owns. The Lancer Lounge closed its doors early October after over four decades of pouring drinks.
The space got a great makeover. Gutted and cleaned out, the former beer-stained dive was redesigned by Jacqueline Bonanno to fit the feel that Vesper Lounge hopes to have: friendly, casual, and comfortable. There are warm brown-accented walls and a painted black ceiling, a large bar that fits twelve, and booth seating for about 45 guests. The booths and the tables came from Ambria, a purchase Bonanno made when the restaurant closed and liquidated its inventory mid-October. The lounge part of the sign outside was kept, a nice throw-back to the iconic dive that used to occupy the space and some of the letters in the Lancer piece of the sign were rearranged inside to spell No Anger. There are three TVs, a jukebox, a PacMan game and a fully-operable garage door that was added, providing more natural light and the option on an indoor-outdoor feel when the Colorado weather permits.
Drinks at Vesper Lounge promise to be the focus. The bar program led by Adam Hodak, beverage director for Bonanno Concepts, will feature ten beers on tap, from the Upslope Craft Lager and Avery's White Rascal to Odell's IPA and Prost's Dunkel Weiss.
The tap program will also feature and seven cocktails. Why cocktails on tap? "Because it is a popular trend on both coasts right now," Frank Bonanno replied. It also provides an affordable way of enjoying crafted cocktails, an important element for the restaurateur. "We don't want Vesper to be fancy, just a nice neighborhood bar," Bonanno added. The predicted price range for cocktails on tap is $5 to 7 for Moscow Mules with homemade ginger beer, sparkling Mai Tais, Gin Fizzes, Boulevardiers, and more. In line with the Bonanno philosophy of high quality ingredients behind the bar, guests will find homemade bitters, fresh juices, and more at Vesper Lounge.
The house cocktail, the Vesper, will not live in the tap system, however. Adam Hodak confided that his heart could not bear the thought of putting a vodka cocktail into the tap system. The Vesper, a James Bond signature drink, is a mix of Tanqueray, Skyy Vodka, Lillet Blanc infused with lemon peel and grains of paradise.
Will there be food? Yes. Good and uncomplicated food- standard bar fare- will complement Vesper's beverage offerings without stealing the spotlight: traditional hamburgers and twists like the Colorado lamburger and vegetarian options like chickpea panisse, pesto, and baba ganoush, as well as falafel sandwiches and marinated fish sandwiches.
Vesper Lounge will be open 4 p.m. to close seven days a week. There will be happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. daily and all day on Mondays.