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Cool Bars, Travel

1313 Main: A Lucky Wine Bar for Bubbly Lovers

January 13, 2012

The downtown Napa wine bar 1313 Main features adiverse selection of wines, servers that know Napa like insiders and a comfortable modern setting.

A couple weeks ago, a friend asked me the word for being afraid of the number 13. It’s triskaidecaphobia, though I admit I had to look up the exact spelling.

I didn’t think much of it until I realized that this month, which began with Sunday the 1st, would include a Friday the 13th.

But 13 isn’t always an unlucky number. A trip to Napa that started out poorly — when I discovered I’d left my wallet at home — ended with me feeling quite privileged to experience 1313 Main.

There’s a clever logo of mirrored 13s on the front, along with a window showcasing some of their favorite champagnes and sparkling wines. Inside, 1313 has a modern decor done in a range of neutral tones accented by warm red and carnelian touches.

Like most wine bars, 1313 Main offers a selection of flights. The Bubble Trouble features NV Mumm Napa Brut Prestige, NV Taittinger Cuvée Prestige and NV Lucien Albrecht Cremant d’Alsace Brut Rosé. Since I was still getting over a cold, I limited myself to a taste of the Lucien Albrecht, a pristine 100% pinot noir traditional method wine with subtle flavors of plum and berries. The two-ounce tastes range from $3.50 for the Mumm Napa to $5 for the one I chose to $10 for Champagne Collet.

Every Friday, 1313 features a Bubble Bar with a rotating list of 13 sparkling wines by the glass. The lineup usually includes wines like sparkling vouvray from Domain Vigneau-Chevreau, Gruet Brut Sauvage and Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé. The menu also includes something amazing, like Krug Grande Cuvée or Salon which are rarely seen in wine bars, let alone by the glass.

Can’t wait for my next visit to see what’s featured on the Bubble Bar.

The words “Champagne Taste” invite bubbly lovers into 1313 Main for a sip of something sparkling.

Cool Bars

Cocktails & Mystery: A Visit to Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency

April 1, 2011
The website for the new bar Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency draws visitors in with a mystery of Lorraine Adeline Wilson, a redhead who went missing back in 1932.

The website for the new bar Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency draws visitors in with a mystery of Lorraine Adeline Wilson, a redhead who went missing back in 1932.

Cocktails and mystery just seem to go together. Or at least they do in detective stories of the 1930s and 40s, my favorite era for mystery books and classic movies. Whether it’s the fabulous Nick & Nora Charles and their love of martinis, rye and champagne; a hard-boiled private dick out of Raymond Chandler; or a curious tale of a Notorious villain under Suspicion, spirits and suspense go together.

Last night I visited the new Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency, the bar-within-a-bar at San Francisco institution Bourbon & Branch in the Tenderloin. The new bar’s theme was inspired by a true mystery that can be summed up as The Lady Vanishes.

During renovations for the new space, owners discovered a handbag with a 1932 driver’s license, lipstick, a nail file, and a torn up pair of stockings hidden between two walls. The license belonged to Lorraine Adeline Wilson, a slender redhead with blue eyes who had lived in the Mission. She was 29 at the time.

With this curious set of facts in mind, I rang the buzzer near the slightly seedy corner of Jones and O’Farrell streets. It was just after 6 p.m. A brunette opened the door, filling the entrance with her body. I gave her the password and she moved aside, allowing me into the dark room. Waiting for my eyes to adjust, I carefully walked about 39 Steps. We paused as she stopped to unlatch another door.

I stepped into a small, dim room with a long bar full of bottles, flocked velvet wallpaper and a pressed tin ceiling. The room was back-lit by a frosted window at one end; a mirror image of the words Wilson and Wilson Detective Agency filled the center of the pane. It was quiet except for a grainy voice warbling a song from another era. A Platinum Blonde showed me to a metal tractor seat at the bar. Before she left, she handed me a small manila envelope.

I was just about to look inside, when I noticed the bartender peering at me expectantly. He was a Thin Man.

Tune in this weekend for the thrilling conclusion…