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Clo Wine Bar

Posted Nov 09 2008 10:11pm

There are a few things in this world that can get me uptown:

1. the Cloisters
2. my dentist
3. the meat department at Fairway
4. Clo wine bar

The Cloisters are an obvious choice (two words: unicorn tapestries). My dentist? An accident of insurance. And the meat department at Fairway simply needs to be seen to be believed… But Clo? Why would a downtown die-hard ever venture above 14th street when the need to get her drink on strikes? Put simply, at Clo I can sample some of the worlds greatest wines at a fraction of the cost.

Clo wine bar is not a new concept, but it elevates the idea to a novel and elegant height. It’s founded on Enomatic technology– the darling new plaything of wine bars and stores worldwide. Enomatics are Italian machines that allow a wine to remain open for up to 3 weeks by maintaining a layer of inert gas (in this case, Argon) over the wine’s surface within an opened bottle.

Allow me to elaborate: oxygen is the enemy of wine. When you open a bottle and do not finish it, it is contact with the air that spoils your remains. Argon is heavier than oxygen and when injected into a bottle forms a protective layer over the exposed wine, preventing spoilage. The Enomatics take this one step further by siphoning said wine out from beneath the layer of gas, never disturbing the surface, and dispensing it into your waiting glass.

This allows Clo to offer extremely rare and expensive wines by the glass, sparing nerds like me hundreds of dollars on what would otherwise be a total bottle commitment. But instead of just having one of these machines, Clo (a play on ‘clos’), is walled in by them. With by-the-glass selections numbering over 100 and a state-of-the-art light-projection interactive system to shepherd you through them, Clo is not only one of the most unique settings in which to enjoy a glass of wine, it is also an invaluable tool for industry professional and burgeoning collector alike.

Described aloud, Clo could easily sound unapproachably modern but in reality is actually quite cozy and friendly inside. Hours pass as folks from all walks of life glide around enjoying anything from Portuguese table wine to ancient Madeira. Sexy and mod enough to seem an ideal romantic destination, the family-style seating quickly (and hilariously) turns your date into a public affair. I have interacted with more people in an hour at Clo than I am generally comfortable with. Pile on the inevitable members of the New York wine intelligentsia, running back and forth pressing pour buttons like mice on crack levers, and it’s a full night indeed. Ever a fan of efficiency, I just hope those guys check the suggestion box and install a syringe extension to the argon tubing for those of us Clo-junkies…

So. Self-service enomatic machines… interactive educational light display… for a bar whose aim seems to be the annihilation of the sommelier, they sure do have a lot of them kickin’ around. And this is where Clo gets ridiculous. Beyond the meticulous selection, beyond, even, the high-tech interface, lies a collective of some of the nation’s top sommeliers. A veritable boy band of professional winos—Scott Brenner, Andrew Bradbury, Keith Goldston MS, Brian Smith, and Darius Allyn MS form a kind of hunky brain trust that together helped guide this stark Kubrickian kiosk to its landing pad in the 4th floor of the Time Warner Center. A handy staff indeed especially if, say, Fairway closes early that day and one still requires an eyeful of beef. Now if they could only throw in a couple of horned horsies and some local anesthesia, my New York like could officially cap at 59th st!

(For those inquiring… Yes, the Time Warner Center is a mall so, by extension, Clo is in a mall. Don’t hold it against them. I find that it helps if one thinks of it as a kind of adults-only Orange Julius stand.)

Oh, and one last thing. In your rush to the wine counter, do not forget to pause and peruse the peripheral wall. Here you will find a daring and stylish selection of high-end wine accessories that range from the sublime to the bizarre, carefully curated by super-wife Brooke Bradbury. All I know is that whomever I con/bribe/blackmail into marrying me better be pouring my wedding-day wine out of an orange skull decanter ($1000, Esque Studio in Portland). This twisted little heart wouldn’t have it any other way.

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