The Wynwood Yard, which opened its free-spirited gates this past November, has been nothing short of exciting. From hosting live music, themed parties, and athletic events to a bevy of new-wave pop-up culinary concepts, the outdoor space on NW 29th Street between NW First and North Miami avenues has garnered a large following.
Now, four months in and many initial kinks worked out such as weather and structural issues, founder and CEO Della Heiman wants to spice things up, which means Yard enthusiasts are in for several changes, including a new bar, a new drink program, and a new food concept.
Heiman partnered with Tactivate to create Mortar & Pistil, the Yard's new bar, which will feature an innovative cocktail and coffee program that fuses drinks with mental and physical games. Tactivate, a Miami-based group, blends special-ops veterans and practices into entrepreneurial projects to create a mind-and-body experience.
If you're wondering what exactly you're getting yourself into when you order a drink at Mortar & Pistil, imagine this: Learn how to tie a special knot while a bartender prepares your cocktail. Bizarre, but stimulating.
"We want Mortar & Pistil to be a place where people come to learn new skills and meet new people, while enjoying cocktails," says Jesse Levin, co-founder of Mortar & Pistil and Tactivate. "We’re going to have special-operations veterans helping behind the bar and learning the ropes of entrepreneurship. They might ask you to do a pullup before you take a shot, or they might teach you to tie a knot. So there’s going to be a playful, active element to it too."
Levin says the bar's name stems from "mortar and pestle," an age-old tool used to prepare ingredients by crushing and grinding them into a fine powder.
"We want people to "detox while they intox," says Sefra Levin, co-founder of both Mortar & Pistil and Tactivate, and Jesse's twin sister. "We want to emphasize the healthy things that are going into people’s cocktails, apothecary-style. We’re taking what’s growing at the Wynwood Yard, foraging it, and using it in our drinks by making different tinctures, bitters, and simple syrups that have beneficial qualities."
Among Mortar & Pistil's new cocktails are the Shit I’m Balding, made with tequila reposado, jalapeño, agave, lime juice, and pineapple juice, and the Sophisticated Savage, using gin, citrus juice, star anise, and simple syrup. There's also a Choose Your Own Adventure cocktail for which drinkers tell a bartender what spirit, flavor, herbs, and simple syrups to use. They’ll pick the plants from the garden and create a fresh-foraged drink.
"We are approaching all of our work at the Yard — from the new edible and medicinal plants to the repurposed furniture to the bar program— through a permaculture design lens," Sefra says. "A central principle of the permaculture philosophy is that everything should serve at least three functions. The cocktail trees we planted provide citrus for our bar as well as shade and beauty."
Per’La Roasters, which sources beans globally and roasts locally in Miami, will be used for Mortar & Pistil's coffee program. Expect traditional coffee drinks such as lattes, cold brews, and cappuccinos, enhanced with mushroom tinctures that add tasty health benefits. (Think chaga mushroom-cashew milk latte.) A special Yard blend is in the works too.
"They are an aggressive young startup," Jesse says. "The Yard is all about fostering food entrepreneurship in Miami, and we like that they source globally and roast locally."
Ash by Stanzione 87, a new food truck concept, will join the Yard too. Founders Franco and Ashley Stanzione, who are behind Brickell's Stanzione 87, will cook wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas using a mobile oven. A customized Airstream trailer is planned for the future.
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Expect traditional pizzas such as a margherita, along with more playful options featuring local and seasonal produce, like butternut squash and speck, or Brussels sprouts and pancetta.
"I’ve been so excited about Franco and Ashley’s energy and passion as entrepreneurs even beyond the outstanding menu," Heiman says. "So I’m most excited about working with them as fellow entrepreneurs."
The Yard will officially launch its changes Saturday, March 26, at the SaturDaze Drinking event in collaboration with Prism Music Group. For more information and to RSVP, visit eventbrite.com.
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