Bayou Bodega, a natural wine bar being launched by husband & wife team Robert Sickler & Yari Ramos, will open its doors on April 20th. Publications such as Zagat and Conde Nast Traveler have featured Robert and his Colorado-based team’s Denver bar Finn’s Manor, as one of the best cocktail bars in the city and Sickler’s curated whisk(e)y list has received local and national accolades. Now they bring their passion for quality wine & spirits back home to Tampa Bay.
Sickler is eager to plunge headfirst into the natural wine world, an enticing realm with commonalities with artisinal distillates. A diehard devotee of ancestral mezcal, he observes multiple parallels between natural wine and this distinctive distillate from Mexico, “Both ancestral mezcal producers and natural wine makers possess a genuine reverence for the land, formulating compelling products from natural fermentation that lack chemicals and large scale mechanical intervention, as their ancestors did for multiple generations. Every bottle and each sip offers a mini adventure for the palate and shares a story of the people who ferment or distill the liquid.”
His wife Yari adds, “I love that when I drink natural wine I am consuming a living product that has no pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, synthetic fertilisers and excessive sulfites. I had abandoned wine consumption for many years as I often had adverse reactions to it, but I’ve had zero negative experiences in the natural wine category. I am excited to share some of these beautiful wines with our friends, family and future guests.”
Their natural wine offerings will feature producers from the US, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Austria, Georgia and Chile. In addition to natural wine they will feature wine and vermouth-based cocktails utilizing tea syrups, fresh fruits and aromatic bitters. Visitors will also encounter a limited assortment of stellar beers, meads and ciders from throughout the world, with an emphasis on the venerable Green Bench Brewing Company next door in downtown St. Pete. Alcohol-free options include spiced hibiscus tea, passionfruit juice, housemade cold brew and traditional Oaxacan chocolate, enjoyed hot or cold.
Exuberant flavors expressed in the wine are elevated by a marriage of Latin-Caribbean and Creole-Cajun flavors from the kitchen. Tapas include olives, Marcona almonds, garlic shrimp with Manzanilla, crawfish mac & cheese (gluten-free), jambalaya, red beans & rice, roasted sirloin with housemade chimichurri and more. Save room for the bread pudding with Caribbean fruit, tropical rum sauce and Spanish saffron ice cream with rose water & cardamom. Bayou Bodega’s eponymous po-boy is destined to become a local favorite: Serrano ham, garlic shrimp, Manchego cheese and roasted piquillo peppers layered on crusty La Segunda bread with organic mayonnaise, lettuce, tomato and pickles.
In addition to wine, Bayou Bodega offers exquisite small-scale foods for retail purchase such as private bottlings of Spanish olive oil and Oaxacan chocolate, mole negro, raw honey and single estate coffee from close friends in Oaxaca, Mexico. Local vendor partners include La Segunda Bakery, The Revolution Ice Cream Co., Melina International, Prime Line Distributors, Halperns’ Steak and Seafood, XXI Wine & Spirits, Arash Selects, Progress Wine Group and Cerda Llanos y Cia.
The venue offers a warm island vibe with Caribbean blue walls, colourful Venetian chandeliers, German lanterns, hanging plants and a vast assortment of art from New Orleans, Puerto Rico, Haiti, Mexico, Florida etc. Several vibrant photos of New Orleans Mardi Gras Indians adorn the walls, captured by artist Alexei Kazantsev. Warm, soulful music from Latin America & the Caribbean, South America, Mexico, Africa, Spain, France, New Orleans and the Celtic lands will add to the tapestry and ambience of the space.
Bayou Bodega will officially open April 20th and will begin operating Wednesday through Friday from 5:00 pm to midnight, Saturdays from 2:00 pm to midnight and Sundays from 2:00 pm to 9:00 pm.