Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on November 20, 2023.
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Pittsburgh really is becoming a space city, and the molecular mixology cocktail bar, Space Bar, will help everyone explore the universe- with tasty libation in hand.
Located right in the heart of Market Square (aptly referred to as the holodeck when onboard), the cocktail lounge is the resident bar of the SS Oasis ship which travels distant worlds and services locals of the various systems visited with tasty cocktails- some familiar, some simply other-worldly.
We were fortunate enough to visit this one during its soft open in fall 2023, and share some early thoughts of what you can expect in this one!
Disclaimer: We are friends with the owners of Space Bar, provided consulting during start-up, and attended a preview event at opening. We have also purchased the cocktails discussed below outside of these instances. As always, all opinions are our own.
Space Bar is a Cocktail Lounge in the Cosmos
If you've watched a lot of sci-fi movies or television, odds are good you've seen a number of cocktail lounges aboard a ship. In many cases, there is one overarching theme- beautiful views over whatever world the ship is orbiting, and of course, unreal beverages.
You get just that at Space Bar.
The ambiance at Space Bar itself feels familiar, with plays off sci-fi designs abound but not tied to any universe specifically. Is it Star Trek? Star Wars? Guardians of the Galaxy? The answer is yes, and no. It is its own thing, but also feels a bit like everything in its own weird way.
Although the vibe is sleek and cozy, the star of the lounge is the ship's windows- a roughly 20-foot wide viewing screen opposite the bar looking out into the cosmos, custom-designed for the bar itself.
One scene you may be orbiting a black hole, another close to a yellow supergiant star, or in another scene above a distant world with starship and space station traffic visible in the foreground. Each scene cycles about 10-15 minutes before taking a leap through hyperspace to the next world (they have to drop off all the passengers they picked up for a round, after all), and you'll be finding yourself swiveling in your chair to catch the next scene again and again in between sips
Although we personally have seen most of the worlds that Space Bar visits (perks of seeing the space before opening), we have to admit that our jaws still drop every time we see them- they're simply that good, and we can't wait to hear what systems they will be adding to their rotation in the future.
While there are many more sci-fi nods for you to discover at Space Bar, we don't want to give away anymore here. Instead, let's talk about the drinks!
A Taste of the Universe and of Home
As of opening, Space Bar launched with a limited cocktail menu that is set to grow over time. The menu consists of two broad themes “Space Craft Cocktails” and “Universal Cocktails”.
Universal Cocktails are the bar's takes on classics, designed to give space travelers a sense of home. Think of drinks like the Manhattan Project, Old Earth Fashioned, and the Negroni Evolution but with a modern twist- the Manhattan features a vermouth sphere that we popped into our drink when ready for it, the Old Fashioned is made with a miso-washed bourbon, and the Negroni has hojicha-infused Campari and Persimmon liqueur for good measure.
For those who like the classics, each of these has the flavors you come to expect from the respective drink but with new takes you may not have ever seen before.
The Space Craft Cocktails side of the menu is where things get weird and, in our opinion, quite fun in a hurry. If you're on a starship orbiting distant galaxies, odds are good you're picking up some of the local flavors on the way, and these drinks are going to involve flavor combinations you have likely never seen before- and if we're also honest, at a bit of a higher price-point, too.
Solar Storm, for example, features rum, apricot liqueur, passionfruit, roasted butternut squash, lime, black cardamom honey, and a coconut curry foam that is savory, complex, and one of those drinks we want to have another one of because every sip brought something new.
Rocket Fuel is another one made with mezcal and tequila but with red bell pepper, acid-adjusted orange, ginger shrub, aquafaba, chipotle, and paprika. Is it spicy? A little. Is it vegetal? Yes. Is it savory? Also that. It will keep you thinking as you drink, that is for sure.
Ultimately, Space Bar has bigger plans than just these drinks, with many more cocktails, and molecular elements, poised to hit the menu soon (the soft launch when we visited is, of course, just a teaser of the grand plans to come).
According to the website, up next is a drink called Neptune's Lagoon that will feature goat cheese-washed tequila, a port reduction, lime, and a sage cloud made with helium that will rain back into your drink over time. Others on the radar sound equally inventive for those willing to put themselves out there for something new and never seen before.
Going beyond drinks, Space Bar also has a modest food menu of vegetarian fare for those looking for a quick bite. Aptly named dishes like Soba Fett (soba noodles with honey ginger dressing, cucumber, pickled vegetables, feta, and sesame cakes) can be found along side a Binary Hummus Platter, Terraform Tacos, and more. We always could use more vegetarian dining in Pittsburgh, and, while not a terribly large menu, fits in with the theming overall- having meat in space is a challenge!
So although the menu at Space Bar was limited for its launch as discussed in this review, we look forward to seeing what fun creations the team brings out in the coming weeks and months.
Ultimately, while we could see how some may find the cocktails at Space Bar a little too out-there, we are excited to see a new bar approach drinks in a way that is, quite honestly, just a bit different from anything we've seen to date. But even if you are more reserved in your drinking choice, the tastes of home will still provide the familiar you seek.
For us, however, we love seeing Pittsburgh grow into a space city, and Space Bar just adds a bit more into the fun!
Space Bar is located at 22 Market Square in downtown Pittsburgh. While we did consult during the start-up of the bar, we were not requested nor paid for this review in any capacity. As always, all opinions are our own.
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