Okay. It’s pretty much official. Bin702 is the cutest wine bar in town. Bar none.
Sorry. Pun intended.
When the Downtown Container Park opened in November of 2013, I initially took just a passing interest. I don’t hang out downtown; like many locals, I snootily eschew the tourist areas. While reading the local paper, however, something caught my eye. Bin702, said the article, has wines on tap.
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard about wines on tap, of course. In fact, any number of various wine industry journals has an ad or two of those who supply on-tap services to restaurants that serve wine. This was an opportunity, I said to myself, to learn about tapped wine first hand. I gotta go.
Unfortunately, between then and now, Real Life™ kept interfering, and I wasn’t able to get to Bin702. Or anywhere downtown for that matter. Let’s just ignore the fact that The Day Job™ is only about a mile and a half from Container Park. Navigating through hordes of tourists and finding (and scoring!) that elusive parking place can be stressful.
When I arrived at Container Park and having scored a parking spot, I was first greeted by a giganto Praying Mantis. Turns out that this massive 55-foot long insect sculpture was created for the Burning Man Festival, which is held annually in Nevada. “Container Park” is the perfect description for what amounts to a mall; if it ever folded – and we hope that it doesn’t – there wouldn’t be a spectacular Vegas-style implosion. The steel shipping containers would simply be taken apart and repurposed. What a great idea. As you can imagine, however, this puts space at the bottom of the priority list.
I was directed towards the back of the mall where I found Bin702. The first thing that struck me is that the place is tiny. There’s a walkup bar that reminded me of some of the businesses of my childhood when I spent summers in (the old, pre-casino) Atlantic City. In the small areas on either side of the bar there were tables and chairs, but only a few. It really is an itsy place. And, as no man said ever, it’s absolutely darling.
I bellied up to the bar but then decided that since I hadn’t had lunch, I’d sit at one of the long tables and enjoy a meal. On the wall next to the tables is a Prohibition-era mural. I was greeted by a cheerful young lady with vibrant pink hair and decided that I’d try some of the wine “on tap” of course! I ordered a Charcuterie platter and a glass of Edna Valley Grüner Veltliner. Yup. Edna Valley. Who knew! It was a 2012 Zocker Paragon Vineyard offering.
The Charcuterie platter arrived with cured meats, whole grain mustard, mixed olives, dried fruit, pickles, crostini, and spiced pecans. While I had planned to try several dishes, this was more than filling. As an aside, the seasoned meats brought out the savory character of the Grüner, unexpected for a California wine. By the way, the wine on tap is served in tumblers. Not unexpected!
In addition to the wines on tap, Bin702 has a very impressive wine list that includes such stars as Ridge Monte Bello, Caymus, Insignia, and Dutton Goldfield.
My second wine was a 2011 Copain Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. Yes, in a tumbler, and was pretty much what I expected from a glass of wine from a wine bar. Tasty, refreshing, and as the self-proclaimed “Pinot ‘Ho,” something that I would drink again. Frankly, I would not have been able to tell that it didn’t come from a bottle.
I had the opportunity to talk to Kathleen “Kat” Thomas, the Wine Goddess of Bin702. I was remiss in not asking if she was the owner; she just has the “owner” vibe while moving about the place. She’s petite, very fit, animated, friendly, and quite obviously loves what she does. A sommelier with some 17 years’ experience, she also knows what’s she’s doing as well.
I commented on the impressive depth of her wine list, which, while there is a markup, isn’t the extortion level gouging that you’ll see at most restaurants. Even with that, there’s half-off on bottles after 5:00 pm on Sundays, which makes the already reasonable-for-a restaurant prices even more attractive. Yes, I could see coming down here on a Sunday summer evening and meeting new friends for a glass or two of wine.
I had to ask about the wine on tap, of course, since that was my primary reason for visiting. Kat said that it took a lot of research and trial and error to get just the right mix of CO2 and Nitrogen to keep the wine in a stable and drinkable state. Many wineries were initially reluctant to let their wines be “kegged” because of some unfortunate results in the earlier experiments of putting wine on tap. They didn’t like the beer-like wine that resulted from an imbalance.
She has the right mix and as I noted earlier, I would not have been able to tell that the wines that I was drinking did not come out of a bottle. I’d say that indicates success.
I could hang out there with no problems. Container Park is appealing, and much appreciation goes to former Mayor Oscar Goodman for getting the downtown redevelopment ball rolling. Downtown Vegas will be a force and although it will probably forever be in the shadow of the far more glamorous Strip, will be a place where locals can come to get their Vegas on.
707 Fremont Street
Wine Down Happy Hour
Monday-Friday 2:47pm to 5:57pm
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