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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Future Bars' East Bay Outpost Tupper and Reed Provides a Symphony of Cocktails

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 5:00 PM

COURTESY OF FUTUREBARS
  • Courtesy of FutureBars

Eight months after opening in a gothic storybook-style building on Shattuck Avenue (between Kittredge and Bancroft), Tupper and Reed is a new local favorite and a welcomed neighbor in Berkeley. The first East Bay venture from Future Bars (the team that brought you Bourbon & Branch, Rickhouse, et al.), this music-shop-turned-bar-turned-speakeasy is also their most recent (though rumor has it, that won't be true for long).

click to enlarge T&R's Crescendo - COURTESY OF SEVAN ARANEDA
  • Courtesy of Sevan Araneda
  • T&R's Crescendo
In keeping with Future's propensity for thematic venues and transformed historic spaces, they went back to basics to get their inspiration. The quirky, two-story brick building with its central fireplace and exposed wood-beam ceilings was created by Berkeley architect William Yelland for the John C. Tupper and Lawrence Reed Music Store in 1925. It has seen many uses in the 90 years since, most recently as the home of Beckett's Irish Pub. When searching for a theme, the team at FutureBars sought to revive the heydays of the old music store and has done due diligence in restoring many of the building's original features. Even the new items (like the hanging lanterns and antique light fixtures) have a feel of a bygone era to them.

Though T&R is primarily a cocktail bar (which seemed an obvious choice for a former Roaring '20s establishment), the building has also been purposed as a performance space. Every Wednesday and Thursday from 8-11 p.m., you're invited to "shake your tail feathers" with Americana ensemble Jitterbug Riot or chill out to the jazz tunes of Rob Figliuzzi and the Right on Times (other ensembles have also been featured).

The rest of the music is found on the menu, which is divided into five "acts" and boasts a "symphony" of some 60-plus cocktails and over 300 spirits (recent editions include several limited release whiskeys that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere). The full drinks list comes in a snazzy clipped binder that is exclusive to the upstairs bar — a reservations only area where you'll receive table-side service and special access by way of a beautiful wood staircase. Call or make a reservation online. T&R also takes walk-ins, so don't be shy to make an inquiry on the spot.

On the lower level, you'll still find plenty to choose from, with a more approachable menu that promises something for everyone, from the Fernet and Punt e Mes-based Crescendo (which is balanced with lemon juice, raspberry syrup, Old Fashioned bitters and grapefruit soda) to the bourbon-based Sound Machine, made with port, agave, and fire-seared lemon rind lit right before your eyes. The bar also offers a modest selection of beer and wine, as well as three punches on tap (a single bowl serves three to four people).

It's a step back in time that's worth the trip out. People and books are welcome, but iPhones are not, so check them at the door or silence them for the show.

Tupper and Reed:  2271 Shattuck, Berkeley, 510-859-4472


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A. K. Carroll

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