Last Updated on August 3, 2020 by Jeremy
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But rather than adding into their collection of bars at the corner of Forbes and Shady Avenue, this one is located in the heart of East Liberty– bringing a much welcomed addition to the neighborhood's drinking scene.
We were recently invited out by the team at Lorelei to check out the new space, and share our thoughts in this full review!
Lorelei Feels like a European Beer Hall
The moment you walk into Lorelei, you'll feel like you've been transported to a European bar- with half being a modern Pittsburgh cocktail bar and half being a Alpine beer hall. From the name (the siren who enchants sailors on the Rhine River), the decor, to the European inspired creations and dishes, everything about the bar screams Alps and for a while we had to remind ourselves we were still in Pittsburgh.
Well, except for the size perhaps- European beer halls have that one on us!
The bar offers an impressive spread of beer, wines, and cocktails and all have a German or Alpine twist.
Beer at Lorelei
The beer at Lorelei is a hyper-focused list of lagers with a number of selections from local, domestic, and European breweries (plus a few similar styles).
At first we weren't quite sure what to make of the beer list as we are not lager heads typically; however, when the team behind Independent Brewing Company puts together a beer list, we know that they're going to do things right and can order just about everything without regret.
The draft list at Lorelei is no different.
Our first beer was the Reissdorf Kolsch, a house favorite that comes in at an affordable $4. This is a light and refreshing Kolsch that is offered up on Lorelei's Kolsch Service, a feature that mimics the Cologne tradition of the bartender refilling your glass until you put your coaster on top to tell them to stop (be sure to ask about it!).
We had more drinks in mind so we had to pass on the Kolsch Service, but five for $20 did seem quite tempting. We moved on to the Schlenkerla Smoked Helles which picks up its smokey flavor not by the grains being smoked themselves, but by being brewed in a facility that makes other kinds of smoked beers.
Yes, this one picks up the smoke by proxy, and offers a wonderfully smoked flavor without being too overpowering- thus letting some of the subtle lager flavors shine through as well. A must try!
Cocktails at Lorelei
We can safely see returning to this to try all the beers alone, but during our first visit we also had to try some cocktails.
The cocktails at Lorelei follow four distinct styles- Apertif, Citrusy-y, Spirit-Forward, and After-Dinner. Many feature European spirits like Barenjager, Jagermeister, elderflower liquor, Genepy, and more as well (seriously, spend some time ogling the bar, it is beautiful).
During our first visit we were able to sample two, the Friesling (a frozen Riesling with elderflower liquor, apricot, agave, and lemon) as well as the Redhead Swizzle (strawberry-infused Jagermesiter with peach, lime, ginger, pineapple, and bitters).
The Friesling is the perfect cocktail for the summer months as it nice and cold, and the elderflower offers up a nice complement to the Riesling wine.
But it was the Redhead Swizzle that we left talking about, as it is the kind of cocktail that is easily recognizable by its Hidden Harbor-esque flair. This one is a complex and boozy drink that has so many fruit flavors going on that you almost forget for a moment that you're drinking Jager.
So even if you fall into the camp about having a bad experience with Jager in the past, this one will definitely win you back over. (Or if not, more for us!)
Wine at Lorelei
Finally, we come to the wine list at Lorelei. This one features an impressive spread of European wine clustered near the Alps. You'll likely find some from Alsace, France, a few from Italy, perhaps an Austrian or Hungarian, and the styles will run the gamut from styles you've heard of to more unusual ones you've never seen before.
We really love the flight options here as you can work your way around a Riesling, white, or red and taste your way through various grapes. Our Italian Dolcetto was a highlight and was a style we had only tried for the first time at this visit (but now we're hooked). Be sure to look up for wine specials in the cocktail bar side of the space to see if any options are available at a discount as well!
A Smaller Food Menu for Snacking and Light Dinners
Lorelei also offers a modest food menu for those who are visiting and looking for something to eat, with options ranging from breads (such as pretzels and breadsticks), to hand pies and tarts, and a small dessert menu as well.
The menu is crafted in such a way that you can visit for snacks and a pre-dinner drink, or make a meal out of the visit as well.
We started off with the soon-to-be-famous Lorelei pretzel- a monster creation that is made in house and is big enough for a group to share. The pretzel is perfectly cooked and its accompaniments of mustard and a sauerkraut and bacon cheese spread are divine- we really could eat the cheese spread on its own which is truly saying something for having sauerkraut as an ingredient!
Our taste buds took us on to a savory mushroom tart that is made with a corn crust and is packed full of mushrooms both in the tart filling and scattered about on top. This one is about as umami as they come but, as it is served cold, the flavor profile is a bit different than you would anticipate.
I finished the meal off with a Lavender Almond Tea Cake topped with clotted cream- one of the bar's more popular desserts that Angie sadly could not eat due to her allergy. This cake is a bit denser than it appears but is a refreshing dessert all the same.
One of the things we love about Lorelei's food menu is that most dishes are designed to be large enough to share and have a price point at around $12 or less. This is perfect for those who want an appetizer or two before going out for a meal, but also doesn't break the bank if you add on a lot to try to make it a meal in and of itself.
Overall, Lorelei is a wonderful bar that gets the rare distinction of doing all alcohol menus well. While we didn't get to try the wine during our first visit, we're going to fix that in our next as the wine list was just as impressive as the beer and cocktail spread discussed above.
When it comes to drinking in Pittsburgh, we need more places like this one. That is all there is left to say.
Lorelei is located at 124 S Highland Avenue in East Liberty. We were invited out by the team at Lorelei for this review, but as always all opinions are our own. We stayed for a while after our visit with the Lorelei team and purchased more food and drinks on our own.