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The Peninsula has a whimsical, new, tarot card-inspired speakeasy. Here are four drinks to try

The Peninsula is now residence to a moody new speakeasy bar serving artistic cocktails on a menu impressed by tarot playing cards.

Wunderbar is a reservations-only spot situated within the basement of downtown San Mateo restaurant Wursthall, at 310 Baldwin Ave. Prospects order from tarot playing cards; on one aspect is a traditional cocktail, like an quaint or martini, and on the again aspect are bar supervisor Kiernan Moran’s riffs. Take, for instance, his soiled martini, made with dashi.

Guests enter the underground bar by way of a separate entrance from Wursthall. The house has 40 seats, together with a semiprivate nook with purple velvet chairs, and is embellished like an “whimsical underground lair,” basic supervisor Xian Choy mentioned. Suppose backlit darkish wooden bookshelves, deep pink leather-based chairs and animal statues impressed by Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Framed tarot playing cards grasp on the partitions.

Moran, a San Mateo native, brings his bar expertise from San Francisco’s Gibson and San Mateo’s Sixtos Cantina to Wunderbar. He likes to play with savory elements, like guajillo chiles or sage, which might be extra more likely to present up in a restaurant dish than a cocktail. He and Choy spent as a lot time creating their superb model of the standard cocktails as their very own interpretations, together with blind-tasting whiskeys for the Manhattan for a whole week.

Bar supervisor Kiernan Moran mixes drinks in Wunderbar in downtown San Mateo.

Courtesy Stephanie Amberg

For wine, Wunderbar is targeted on bottles made with minimal intervention, from organically produced to the extra excessive zero zero, which means nothing is added. There are additionally native canned beers — plus Miller Excessive Life, “as a result of typically you simply want an obscenely carbonic palate refresher,” Choy mentioned. There’s no meals, however a customized machine will churn out buttered popcorn as a snack.

Wunderbar has been years within the making; the homeowners’ aim was to carry a considerate cocktail bar to the Peninsula. The deliberate 2020 opening was delayed by greater than a 12 months due to the pandemic. The bar is tender opening now and can totally open on Dec. 1.

Right here’s a deep dive into 4 cocktails served at Wunderbar.

Sidewinder’s Fang: This tiki drink was born on the long-closed San Mateo bar the Lanai, which was reportedly frequented by members of the Rat Pack and visiting soccer groups taking part in in opposition to the San Francisco 49ers. Moran makes a traditional model with two sorts of rum, passionfruit and recent lime and orange juice. His spin on it comes with nutty Amontillado sherry, umeboshi (Japanese pickled plum) and orgeat, a candy almond syrup.

Wunderbar’s Sidewinder’s Fang cocktail, a tropical drink originally created by a now-closed San Mateo bar.

Wunderbar’s Sidewinder’s Fang cocktail, a tropical drink initially created by a now-closed San Mateo bar.

Courtesy Stephanie Amberg/

Mirror Mirror: Moran’s rendition on the Previous Long-established will get extra complexity from two completely different sorts of amaro — one bitter and one candy, with notes of molasses — and cocoa bitters. He’s obsessive about amaro, and the Italian liqeuer exhibits up all through the menu.

Siren’s Track: For an up-leveled soiled martini, do this drink. As an alternative of olive brine, they’re utilizing dashi constituted of scratch utilizing cookbook creator and Wursthall opening associate Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe. The wealthy kombu broth will get combined with sake, gin and makrut lime. The fragrant citrus provides “lemony, Fruit Loop-y” notes, Moran mentioned.

Smart Lady: Together with his riff on a French 75, Moran wished to create a drink that challenges vodka’s fame as a flat, boring alcohol. He provides amaro from Lo-Fi Aperitifs, infused with ginger, anise and grapefruit, in addition to blackberry and sage.

The Wise Woman cocktail with vodka, amaro, blackberry and sage.

The Smart Lady cocktail with vodka, amaro, blackberry and sage.

Courtesy Stephanie Amberg

Wunderbar. Reservation solely. 4:30-11 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday. 4:30-11:30 pm. Friday-Saturday. 310 Baldwin Ave.

Elena Kadvany is a San Francisco Chronicle workers author. E mail: elena.kadvany@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ekadvany

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