A New Approach to Wine & Snacks
Blend Wine Bar opens in downtown Baton Rouge
By Noel MarcantelPosted Jun 13, 2012
Downtown Baton Rouge has a brand new bag, and it’s called Blend. Forget everything you thought you knew about wine bars. You might as well even forget about all the wine bars you thought you knew. With its warm, friendly atmosphere and mission to provide a full-taste experience to patrons, Blend is a one-of-a-kind concept in a downtown city saturated with bustling noisy bars.
Co-Owner Mike Labat was happy to elaborate.
“We do have a strong emphasis on wine; we have over 120 labels,” explained Labat. “The wine aspect of our program is going to be sort of a rotating, evolving wine list so we have 21 wines by the glass that are changed bi-weekly.”
More central to the Blend concept than the mere availability of such an array is the discovery of its secrets and application of those discoveries onto one’s own palate.
“If you like alcohol, there is a wine you like,” said Labat. “If you come to Blend, we’re going to find that wine. We’re making that our priority.”
Blend is not the first wine bar to open in Baton Rouge. Residents here have visited or at least heard of others around town. At first glance, it would seem that Blend is trying to cash in on a trend. Nothing could be further from the truth, though, as just about everything Blend offers sets it apart in every way.
From the familiar atmosphere to the level of knowledge the staff prides itself on, Blend separates itself entirely from all other establishments in its category.
Labat believes that the other wine bars in Baton Rouge have lost their purpose and their focus toward their own concepts in favor of just getting people into the door and making the safe sales of mixed drinks and beer that the patrons have grown accustomed to at more common establishments.
“They got away from wine and wanted to produce revenue, so the easy solution was ‘Here’s a Bud Lite, here’s a Crown and Coke,’” he explained. “They only wanted to fit as many people as possible in there.”
Blend is in the same location as a previous wine bar, the atmosphere of which was intimidating and even scary, according to Blend server Victoria Doskey.
“There’s so much more light than there was before,” Doskey said. “Now when people come in, it’s a range of music that all people like; it’s not just pounding [of the bass]. You don’t have to head straight for the bar and then sit in some dark corner, which wasn’t inviting at all.”
The atmosphere is a unique fusion between the modern, the rustic, and the industrial. It’s the kind of place where you can either get dressed up and imagine yourself as James Bond, or let loose and be comfortable in your own skin. Either way, the more-than-friendly staff will cater to you. One of the best features of Blend is that you can hear yourself think.
“We don’t want to have music blasting,” said Labat. “It’s just going to be background music, something subtle. Something where you can be comfortable and say, ‘We’re going to have a good glass of wine and some good conversation.’”
The atmosphere is undeniably enjoyable and the staff is friendly beyond expectations.
“We want you to feel like you’re coming into our living room where you can feel comfortable and enjoy yourself,” said Doskey. “While everything’s nice, you don’t feel out of place here.”
For those who might feel intimidated by the idea of going to a wine bar or feel that a wine bar is somehow out of their comfort zone, fear not.
“I have the most Cajun accent in the world, nobody can be intimidated by that,” joked Labat. “We’re not a snobby bar, put your nose in the glass and smell it. You’re not a snob if you take it and swirl it; it’s just going to help you taste it.”
If you’re a cocktail enthusiast, Blend outdoes the competition in that arena as well. With certified mixologists and highly trained bartenders using fresh fruit and homemade ingredients, you won’t feel like just another tab open or just another pair of elbows fighting for position at the bar.
“It’s not like some chain restaurant where the bartender is shaking something up because that’s what he saw in the video they showed him in the back room,” explained Labat. “We want you to see what we’re doing, we want you to be proud of what you’re getting, and get that showmanship.”
The originality of Blend spans all disciplines from alcohol to gourmet food dreamed up by their genius chef. They offer a full spectrum of delectibles from rare meats to Cajun comfort food.
One fun angle is their approach to bar snacks like you’ve never seen them before.
“Our chef has taken popcorn and added caramel powder, cayenne pepper, and rosemary,” Labat excitedly said. “You have sweet, salty, and peppery. It’s a classic bar snack that we can take and enhance with the taste of wine.”
The owners and staff of Blend hope to not only satisfy seasoned wine experts, but also introduce wine as an enjoyable social drink and gateway to flavor experiences to a whole new audience. If you’re tired of the same thing over and over again, Blend is the place to go. Blend offers the best experience to enjoy the drink of the world right here at home.
Blend is located downtown at 304 Laurel Street, at the corner of 3rd and Laurel. Hours are tentative but they are open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. until. Visit their website for more information: www.BlendBR.com