Thursday, June 03, 2010

Are We Ready for a Fern Bar Revival?

This morning on Facebook, I spied a Shoes & Cocktails link to a WaPo article about the possible resurgence of "fern bars" and the uber-70s bars' connection to uber-90s establishments like TGIFridays.

The FB link promised a story about bars, history, and formerly trendy cocktails - how could I resist clicking through?

I wasn't disappointed, either. The article, by Jason Wilson, asks if it's time for a revival of the "fern bar," those brightly lit, greenery-bedecked lounges so popular during the heady days of the sexual revolution. The article posits that the fern bar might be next in line, following the successful revivals of speakeasies and tiki bars. But the verdict? Well, according to Martin Cate, owner of a San Francisco tiki bar and moderator of a talk on fern bars at the Tales of the Cocktail spirit industry conference, the answer is "no." Nobody's ready for fern bars (yet, at least).

The article also touches on the cocktails imbibed by fern bar regulars. Through the lens of a few decades, both the patrons and the drinks look like punch lines - all Jack Tripper and mudslides. But at the time, they were sophisticated all around. The article doesn't mention it, but at least one of the era's signature drinks - the comically-monikered Harvey Wallbanger - enjoyed a mini-resurgence a couple of years ago. Enough of a resurgence that the drink got some play in Food & Wine (and right on this here blog).

It's an interesting article and worth a read, especially for anyone who's spent time peering over the sneezeguard at the Ruby Tuesday salad bar, or scanning the TGIF margarita menu in search of that "perfect" accompaniment for spin dip and jalapeno poppers.

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