Urban Wine Company still has plenty of wine, but it’s getting into creative cocktails in a big way. According to manager Angela Reding, changes have been happening at the Old Market wine bar for the last year, but have been accelerated by the arrival of new general manager Martin Janica (who is also well-known in Omaha for his abilities as a flair bartender). “We are forming a new identity,” Reding says. “In the past, we maybe did too many different things at once. Now we are focusing on offering a comfortable place to enjoy a small plate and a glass of wine, or a beer or cocktail if you’re not a wine drinker.” Janica previously worked at the Old Market Tavern and Embassy Suites, and he moved to Urban Wine Company early in 2011. He and new head bartender (and fellow Argentinean) Luciano Pontiroli have introduced a different approach to mixed drinks. “We’ve always had cocktails,” Reding says, “but now we’re playing with produce and looking to pre-Prohibition [style] drinks. We are using cilantro instead of mint in our mojitos, for example, and trying lots of new things.” Some trends in the world of cocktails are currently reflected at Urban Wine Company. “Right now, there is less interest in really sweet drinks, and a big rise is drinks with bourbon,” Reding said. “That’s why you’ll see several bourbon drinks.” Urban Wine is using the spring months as a try-out period for its new cocktail menu. Right now, 28 “Urban Cocktails” are being offered, with a plan to whittle those down to around 15 by the summer. Examples include the O! Manhattan, with bourbon, honey, sweet vermouth, orange peel and angostura bitters; the Chillantro, with vodka, cucumbers, lemons, cilantro, and ginger ale; and the Fresitas, made with Torrontes white wine, strawberry and peach puree, lemon, sugar, and topped with champagne. All cocktails currently sell for $7. The heart of Urban Wine Company is still its wine list. About 40 wines by the glass are being offered, with prices ranging from $6 to $18. Over 200 bottles are also available, with American, European, and South American labels equally represented. Repeat customers will find some old friends remaining on the list, but Reding said selections are always changing. “Most wine lists offer the most popular names, but we try to be a little more boutique and bring something new,” Reding said. “We want you to get a glass of wine you can’t get anywhere else.” The food menu remains largely unchanged for the moment, with a focus on small plates and sushi. Some of the most popular dishes include Lavosh with a choice of five toppings ($8.50), and several flavors of soup ($4). Hot and cold plates to share are all in the $10 range, and there is a wide selection of meats and cheeses. Reding said her restaurant and other Jones Street businesses are planning a wine festival for the early fall. “We want to make it a huge wine tasting,” Reding said. “We want to use a lot of our patio space, and the space in front along Jones Street, and bring in a bunch of winemakers.” This event would be part of an ongoing effort to bring more foot traffic to the Jones Street portion of the Old Market. “It’s a beautiful area, and just one or two streets down from the center of the Market,” Reding said. “We want more people to know what is down here.” The Urban Wine Company is located at 1037 Jones St. Hours are Mon.-Wed. 4-10 p.m., Thurs. 4 p.m. to midnight, Fri. 4 p.m.-1 a.m., Sat. noon to 1 a.m., and Sunday noon to 9 p.m. For more information, call 402.934.0005 or visit urbanwinecompany.com.

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