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Dakota Bar Offering Shot of Nostalgia to UWS Bar Scene

By Emily Frost | January 30, 2013 12:49pm

UPPER WEST SIDE — With a massive marble bar, swiveling chairs, chandeliers adorned with musical instruments and retro cocktails, the Dakota Bar is looking to help revive the bar scene on the Upper West Side

The bar — at 72nd Street and Columbus Avenue and owned by former model and Wine and Roses founder Jennifer Klein — will have its grand opening on Valentine's Day following a year of renovations.

"We felt this corner needed something — something whimsical," said Klein. "There are so few places to connect and smile and meet your neighbors."

The Dakota Bar — opening in place of Indian restaurant Earthen Oven — will be open from 3 p.m. until 1 or 2 a.m. daily with an extensive wine and beer list and a roster of signature cocktails.

The drinks will "have a nostalgic feeling, using gum drops, liqueurs, and sugar daddy cocktails and caramel liqueurs," said Klein. She drew inspiration from drinks she remembers her mother drinking, like the Pink Squirrel, typically made with creme de noyaux, white creme de cacao and light cream.

Klein will also serve a variety of wine-based cocktails: "You could start with Cabernet with fruits and simple sugar and pick any kind of liqueur."

Or she said she'd mix white wine with vodka and herbs. "We are here with [older] people who could relate to nostalgia...and a lot of younger people will [also] relate," she said.

In April, Klein will debut a "punch brunch" with several different punches alongside a full brunch menu.

Klein said she and her husband, Todd, who live a block away, have always had a fascination with the Dakota, and decided to name the bar after the legendary building.

The 1,200-square-foot restaurant fits 100 people and Klein said, "everywhere you sit, you can see out the windows." The bar has a wall of south and west facing windows that will showcase the sunset and can be opened in the summertime, she said.

A glamour shot of Klein from her modeling days and dark tables add to the bar's grown-up feel in the family-friendly neighborhood.

To add to the atmosphere, which features large green bar chairs and maroon swivel chairs, the bar will "play great funky music from every era," she said.

Though the Dakota Bar is surrounded by popular restaurants, Klein said the bar's emphasis is on the drinks menu. "We're not a restaurant," she said. "We're a bar first."

However, the food on offer will come in big portions.

The menu includes: 10 salads, 10 pastas, 10 "really big sandwiches," Charcuterie, pates, and cheese boards with three to 12 cheeses.

"We want to fill everybody up," she said.