By Frank Sabatini Jr.
Photos by Brevin Blach
They're calling it "the smallest bar in San Diego," although with only four bar stools, a couple swivel chairs and a couch, the Mini Bar inside downtown's newly opened Bootlegger may well be the most diminutive watering hole in the nation.
"I've seen places advertised as 'small bars' in Mexico, Key West and New Orleans, but there's really nothing like this," says co-owner Barrett Rinzler.
Mini Bar is stocked with miniature, 50-milliliter bottles of liquor, giving customers a service experience akin to flying first class on a commercial airline.
The booze is presented on silver airline-style trays with mixers, ice and garnishments. And if you're as finicky about martinis as James Bond ("shaken, not stirred"), little tin shakers are provided.
Mini-bottle service costs less than what most airlines charge for checking a bag-$9 for basic mixed drinks and up to $15 for a singlemalt scotch.
Rinzler, who also co-owns P.B. Shore Club, says the idea for Mini Bar came to him when he and his business partners seized the circa-1911 building to create Bootlegger, an urban-style saloon serving standard-size drinks and hearty comfort fare such as lobster pot pies, pork belly steaks and smoky mac-n-cheese.
"A light went on when I saw what used to be an old back office, which is literally 15 by 15 feet," he says. "The awning above the tufted leather barn door we installed is the same size as the bar-about 45 inches long. We'll be keeping the capacity in there to about 12 people."
Mini Bar's entrance is separate from Bootlegger's and is accessible from Eighth Avenue. The bar is open Thursdays through Saturdays and available for private parties through the remainder of the week.
Bootlegger's rendition of The Lord's Prayer
Our lager, which art in barrels, hallowed be thy drink.
Thy will be drunk (I will be drunk), at home as it is in the pub.
Give us this day our foamy head, and forgive us our spillages,
As we forgive those who spill against us.
And lead us not to incarceration, but deliver us from hangovers.
Forever and ever, Barmen.
Mini Bar (inside Bootlegger)
804 Market Str., East Village
Flight of Hand
By Pat Sherman
Tired of overpriced airline cocktails served with a side of condescension by bow-tied flight attendants? Give the Bootlegger mini-bottle concealer a try. This stealth product (unaffiliated with Bootlegger in East Village) fits snuggly around the ankle, allowing passengers to smuggle six little bottles of booze onto their flight.
Just don't blame us if the caper goes awry, resulting in a full body cavity search by a hefty TSA agent named Brenda.