Kendra Anderson dedicated more than five years to her vision for Bar Helix, opening Tuesday, Oct. 3, calculating every corner, flavor, the temperature and tunes inside her playful location at 3440 Larimer St.
What she’s concocted blends high and low, naughty and nice, seeking to shed the image of run-of-the-mill wine bar — she puts equal emphasis on food and beverage, edgy grit and opulence, masculine and feminine, caviar and Pringles.
Before branching out and pursuing the role of bricks-and-mortar owner-operator, Anderson worked for 12 years in catering, events and wine after culinary school. She took her background as an advanced sommelier to Westword as a wine columnist, calling herself “Swirl Girl.”
Walk into the 62-seat Bar Helix — named for the shape of a corkscrew — to find high-top tables with built-in ice chests to keep bottles cool and accessible. Unfinished cement floors and visible concrete beams are drenched in baby pink graffiti. Deep red walls are accented by a bubbly, glowing bar and circular chandeliers. An accordion of windows opens up, like a horizontal garage door, connecting the patio with the interior for Colorado’s signature sunny days.
The temperature-controlled wine cellar holds 475 bottles, adjacent to both the bar and open kitchen, where chef John Hadala, most recently of Il Posto, will man the kitchen, churning out no entrees, no predictable charcuterie boards, but instead indulgent, “sexy, trashy bar food.” A chef’s counter and metal bar allow for hopeful intimate collisions. Just a few short steps further, and diners will discover a photo wall of Negronis, Anderson’s drink of choice. The best seats in the house may be the private lounge seating for 12, with “Playboy club” metal screens and plush sofas.
Back at the bar, Anderson wanted cocktails that took minimal prep time, building a menu that incorporates three to four ingredients and speaks to masculine and feminine energies. This includes the signature Negroni, made with gin, 6 pm apertivo and vermouth, as well as three other variations. The Come and Get It is made with vodka, St. Germaine, basil and simple syrup. A host of bubbles and affordable wines by-the-glass and bottle — priced by $55, $75 and $100-plus tiers — are offered as well as an entirely non-local beer list.
The food, by no means an afterthought, includes 12 savory items and three happy endings, each with a cheeky name attached. The Trailer Taters use fingerling potatoes made sous vide with truffle salts and “Champagne of Beers” cheddar fondue. The Devilish Eggs are brined in full-bodied Malbec wine, filled with sirloin tartar and egg Hollandaise, and mini rangoons come stuffed with jumbo lump crab, savory cream cheese and a Sriracha kick.
On the coming months, Bar Helix will offer a continental-style brunch on weekends, partnering with Babette’s Artisan Breads and Rosenberg’s Kosher. A small staff of eight will run the show at the new bar-lounge, operating five days a week, from 4 p.m. to midnight; closed Sundays and Mondays.
• All Coverage of Bar Helix [EDEN]