Bar Mars
The interior of soon-to-open Bar Mars. Photo by Andrew Huang

In the midst of a well-publicized, albeit fledgling, movement toward sobriety in the service industry and more nonalcoholic options at bars, Golden Brown & Delicious (GB&D) chef and co-owner Alex George is opening a bar with a focus on craft cocktails.

“I’m not opening a bar to just get people drunk,” he says.

George isn’t interested in being involved in the negative side of bar culture. Instead, he hopes to promote the positive side at Bar Mars when it opens Oct. 4 in the former Village Grind space attached to GB&D, 1269 Pendleton St.

Exile Bar will be hosting a pop-up in the bar on Sept. 25 to give guests a preview of what’s to come on that First Friday.

“Food and drink as community is important to me, and the focus is always on the food part, but drink can be healthy and create community,” George says. 

He plans to do that with the help of newly named bar manager Chris George (no relation), formerly of The Anchorage and most recently Vault & Vator. They are creating cocktails in smaller portions and at lower alcohol levels. This keeps costs down for guests and allows them to sample more than one responsibly, Alex George says.

The five signature cocktails will rotate seasonally. Since it’s still summerlike weather, the opening list will be more refreshing and include a mezcalada (pina colada with mezcal) along with a selection of vermouth to be served with soda and a lime twist. On draft, George plans to have house flavored soda, house kombucha to be used in cocktails, and cava.

The interior of the soon-to-open Bar Mars. Photo by Andrew Huang

The 20-seat Bar Mars, named after George’s pitbull rescue who died this summer, has its own spatial and menu identity distinct from the restaurant, though overlap is inevitable and eventually intended. Once GB&D moves later this fall into The Commons food hall project underway on Welborn Street, the bar will take over more of the restaurant space. 

The new yet-to-be-named concept George is planning to take over GB&D’s space will have a focus on gourmet breakfast and lunch sandwiches, including late-night breakfast, and he also plans to offer exclusive fine-dining dinner engagements on occasion. 

Meanwhile, Bar Mars will continue to offer its bar-only food menu, which will consist of a cheese selection by Blue Ridge Creamery, house Chex mix, vegan mushroom jerky, potato chips, and the GB&D burger and fries, and have planned nacho nights and wing nights. 

Designed as a low-pressure neighborhood bar, a mural by Christian McKinney sets the whimsical mood. Pink, yellow, and blue flora, fauna, and seemingly random iconography from both McKinney’s and George’s lives create a mosaic begging for a scavenger hunt bar game. George plans to create one on the back of the menu.  

Planned hours at opening are 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday and 5-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with brunch cocktails on Sunday. Eventually, hours will extend later as interest dictates.

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