Get first look and taste at new Soviet-themed vodka bar downtown

On Nov. 25, 2019, Proto BuildBar announced that their final day of operation would be Dec. 21.

It was a bittersweet message for a bar that had innovated and changed the nightlife of downtown Dayton opening their doors to makers and inventors.

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In the announcement, Proto alluded to things to come: "In the spirit of the many great innovators that adorn our walls, we too are ready to reinvent ourselves. Stay tuned because we have something all new and amazing brewing."


That new and amazing reinvention will open to the public this Friday, Feb. 28, when the Red Star Vodka Bar and Cocktail Lounge debuts.

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"After five years, we felt Proto was fun but had run its course. Alex Todd (Proto’s Manager) and I were kicking around some ideas about what to do next. We were looking to create something to fill a void in the Dayton landscape and that would also make us smile — it needed to be a little different. Alex is a big history buff and I have a soft spot for kitsch. We had just both watched Chernobyl... There were already a number of bars in the area doing a great job with Bourbon ... so we said what about vodka. Then Russian vodka. Then what about Soviet-era Russian vodka — and the concept was born. As with many things we touch at Real Art, it kind of spiraled out of control from there," said Chris Wire, president of Real Art and founder of Proto BuildBar and now Red Star.

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The space is bathed in red velvet and the light is moody but designed and deliberate.

The 3,000-square-foot facility has plenty of soft comfortable furniture as well as booths and bar seating.

"I think I’ve said it’s cross between the opulence of Soviet-era Kremlin and a punk rock dive bar... a space that only your Ukrainian grandmother could fully appreciate and love," said Wire. "There’s not much around here like it. It will be a place to come and have a great time with friends. There’s a great sound system and a turntable (and) vinyl that guests can select themselves. We have four legit real dart boards ... they didn’t have fancy electric dart machines in Russia in the '70s and neither do we."

The bar will feature house-infused vodkas served either by the shot, in flights, or included in traditional cocktails transforming them into truly unique creations. Additionally, they will have a fully stocked bar and rotating selection of eight craft focused beers on tap. Wire's current favorites include a pickle vodka bloody marry, and a vanilla vodka and coke.

The bar will also go by “Red Star a Proletarian Pub” or simply “Red Star.”

"We are trying to keep pricing very reasonable — remember it’s a working man’s proletarian pub," Wire said. "Single shots of house-infused vodka are $5, cocktails range from $6-$9, beer $4-$6 and draft Pabst is always $2.50."

He says that Red Star infusions will be constantly evolving and they are aiming to have 10-15 on hand at any time.

The current list Red Star will be featuring when it opens will include mixed berry, strawberry mint, blueberry, tomato basil jalapeño, cilantro jalapeño lime, espresso, vanilla, horseradish, cinnamon, apple cinnamon, and Wire's favorite — pickle. Flavors will be based on what is in season and Alex’s mood.

Alex Todd, co-creator and bar manager, personally develops the recipes and does the infusions. He regularly selects the fresh produce, botanicals and spices.

Wire hopes guests "laugh, have fun, be comfortable, leave pretentions at the door, create new experiences that encourage conversations and wonder."

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What: Red Star Vodka Bar and Cocktail Lounge

Where: 534 E. First St., Dayton

Hours: Open beginning Friday, Feb. 28. Hours are 4 p.m.-midnight Tuesday though Thursday; 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 p.m.-midnight Sundays; closed Mondays.

Specials: Infusions will be $4 from 4-7 p.m. on weekdays

More information: 937-474-9418 | Facebook

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