An all-star team has teamed up to open Viridian, a new craft cocktail bar in Uptown Oakland that opened last Tuesday. In the space that formerly housed Plum Bar (2216 Broadway), the drink menu features cocktails made with seasonal California produce and wines from seven different countries, while the food menu, inspired by the Asian-American experience, offers several dim sum-inspired snacks and plenty of desserts.
At Viridian, guests can enjoy unusual cocktails like the Tomato Beef, a savory drink made with Don Julio Blanco tequila, basil eau de vie, tomato water, and "not lime" (a lime juice substitute), garnished with a wild foraged pink peppercorn leaf. Or guests can sip on The Golden Triangle, made with gin, golden beets, Meyer lemon, quinquina (an aromatized wine), California poppy, and Suze, a French brand of bitters.
The drinks are designed to pair with the dessert-heavy menu. One of the star desserts is the Thai tea tiramisu, made with Thai tea flavored mascarpone, topped with a layer of crispy caramelized condensed milk, and served with roasted peanuts. There's also a blood orange semifreddo with pistachio crumb and cardamom, loosely inspired by the now-discontinued orange sherbet Flintstones Push-Up Pops that were so beloved in the '90s. Some desserts are inspired by dim sum treats, like the rum po tat (Portuguese egg tart) made with spiced rum, cinnamon, and lemon zest. Meanwhile, the savory menu includes snacks like cha siu bao, salt and pepper chicken nuggets, and chili garlic milk bread served with a dark green butter flavored with charred scallions and ginger butter.
Each member of the team behind Viridian boasts an impressive résumé. The roster includes co-owner and bar manager William Tsui (formerly of Lazy Bear and Rich Table), co-owner Raymond Gee (formerly of Noodle Theory Provisions and Hakkasan) and Jeremy Chiu (formerly of Shinmai and International Smoke). All three co-owners were born and raised in Oakland. The team also includes general manager Alison Kwan, who teamed up with Tsui to create the cocktail menu; Master Sommelier Andrey Ivanov, who created the eclectic wine list; and executive chef Amanda Hoang (Bird Dog) and consulting chef Alice Kim (Lazy Bear, Coi).
Beyond food and drink, Viridian is just a beautiful space to be in. The space was designed by Soon and Soon Studio, which includes Anna Lee and Brandon Jew of Mister Jiu's and Moongate Lounge in San Francisco. The design was inspired by the 1994 Wong Kar-wai film Chungking Express, which depicts a bygone era in Hong Kong. An abstract neon sculpture behind the bar is the centerpiece of the restaurant, while sculptures from Tsui's parents' home sit on the countertops, and portraits of dogs from local illustrator Cheeky Chong decorate the walls.
Plus, Viridian is hosting a special Lunar New Year celebration this Sunday, Feb. 16, from 4 p.m. until midnight. There'll be red envelopes, nostalgic childhood snacks, a photobooth at 7 p.m., and the chance to win commemorative bottles and specialty pins.
For more info, check out ViridianBar.com.