1249 Wine Bar

1249 Wine Bar

(Surprise!  It’s a Martini Bar, too!)

Update! 4-6-12

I couldn’t wait to get back to 1249 again; we just had to find a couple hours of down time to allow us a visit.   

1249 Wine Bar

Rob Martini & Tammy @ 1249 Wine Bar


Arriving at 5pm last Friday, just as the Sky Bar opened I found Mr. Martini himself, behind the bar.  After the niceties of catching up since the last visit, we chat about the art of creating really good martinis.  Along the way I decided to have a Muddled Raspberry Cosmopolitan made with fresh raspberries.  A spectacular bright red and beautifully presented it looked almost too good to sip.  (Yeah, right… like I’m not gonna drink it?  Who are we kidding?)  Raising the glass, I sipped…  A contrast of tart and sweet tickled my tongue, it was delicious.  Another successful hunt!

As our discussion took us through the merits of various vodkas, I noticed that the HVAC issue had been addressed since my last visit (that was quick!)  Relaxing at the bar, Nelson Viega, the illustrious owner of 1249 Wine Bar and its sister store, The Good Life Wine & Spirits, joined us for a chat and a cocktail.  Nelson, a Master Sommelier,  mentioned that the wobbly table had been fixed the day after our visit.  Hey, things happen, I said but Nelson did not accept the “out” I offered.  “Good enough” is not in his vocabulary.  He takes great pride in his businesses and it shows; from the custom painted ceiling in the Sky Bar to the upholstered sofas and wine classes offered at The Good Life, next door.  Nelson is a class act.

This time around we enjoyed several beautiful and delicious items off Chef Alex’s new menu:  a seafood raw bar sampler and french onion soup for starters then on to Yellow Fin Tuna on a bed on field greens and dressed with the chef’s own teriyaki sauce and Divers Scallops with a sautee of parsnips and truffles in a sherry cream sauce.  We barely had a chance to snap a few pics before we attacked our plates.  Now, I’m pretty certain that my description of these dishes is not 100% accurate to the menu but trust me when I say that yours won’t be on your  plate long either.  They were delicious!

When next you stop into 1249, head to the Sky Bar where you’ll likely find Rob behind the bar.  You may even find us there enjoying a cocktail and discussing the next great martini.  Cheers!

3/25/12   We wandered out to 1249 Wine Bar last Friday night with our good friends, Don & Beth.  Now although this place is really new (only been open since January) owner Nelson Viega has owned several great bars in South Florida and brings loads of experience and good taste to 1249.

We noticed a couple things upon entering: dining room ahead, bar to the right and stairs up the middle.  The bar was packed!  Nice lighting, lots of clean lines and warm wood but nowhere for us to sit.  Don disappeared only to return a minute later to send us up the stairs to the “other” bar.  Ok, now we’re talking!  The “other” bar is actually the “Sky Bar” where we find Rob Martini (yup that’s his real name) the master mixologist ready to welcome us.  After a little snafu with a really wobbly table (gotta fix that quick, can’t take a chance on spilling a great cocktail!)so with our drink menu in hand we decide to sit at the bar and I’m so glad we did! 


Rob's Martini at 1249 Wine Bar

Rob's Martini at 1249 Wine Bar

Handing Beth and Don a couple beers, it’s my turn.  “What’s your favorite martini” I ask.  Without missing a beat, Rob replies “my Tiramisu Martini.”  Ok, with that much confidence on display, I pause and look him in the eye… “Really? You said “my” it’s that good?”  “Yes, it is”, came the reply.  Ok then, who am I to argue?  As Rob starts mixing and I’m not having much luck determining the ingredients being crafted into my martini because Rob is being very secretive and won’t let me I look around instead.  The Sky Bar is minimalistic and effective in its furnishings.  Wood and windows are the prominent features against a gorgeous, painted ceiling.  Yes, I did say ceiling.  You really need to see it to appreciate it and it complements the upscale atmosphere perfectly, especially as the sky darkens outside.

My martini was presented with pride and rightfully so.  Beautiful to the eye, with a lady finger garnish and dusted with chocolate powder, Rob placed my martini before me.  I take a tentative sip….. OMG, this is heaven in a martini glass!  Smooth and supple on the tongue, no one thing stood out above the others but instead created a rich and delicious party in my mouth.  I can be very selfish with a really good martini and won’t share, but this was so good that I couldn’t deprive Dave and my friends from enjoying the tiniest sip.  (I know it was tiny, because I watched them like a hawk!)  Now this group are hardcore beer connoisseurs but as I watch the looks of appreciation come over their faces, I knew it was the right thing to do.  Dave had spotted a favorite but rarely seen cocktail on the menu and ordered one up. The “Caipirinha” is the national drink of Brazil, where it originated and is made with cachaça, a really sweet Brazillian rum made from sugarcane juice.  Now how many times have you seen one on a local drink menu?  Right…rarely, if ever.  Dave’s Caipirinha was presented on the rocks with several lime wedges fighting for elbow room with the ice cubes.  As we all waited expectantly, Dave took that first sip and as the liquid caressed his taste buds, it was declared perfect!  Not only do they have the correct ingredients on hand, but Rob knows how to make it, too!  Nice!

The Sky Bar continued to pick up pace and was soon quite busy.  As more voices filled the space it became very

1249 Wine Bar
Sky Bar @ 1249 Wine Bar

apparent that as beautiful as it is and unlike downstairs, the lack of any soft furnishings creates a cacophony of noise because there is nothing to absorb the sound.  Being on the upper level, there are several very effective, high output air ducts in the ceiling so there was also a little difficulty getting the HVAC to behave.  Lots of cool air blew directly on our backs but when it was turned off, it got stuffy quickly.  Now a few bumps are to be expected with a newly constructed space and nothing that can’t easily be fixed as both of these are minor inconveniences when weighed against the excellent bar menu, a master bartender and excellent value.  When was the last time you had a top-shelf, specialty martini for under $10?  I never mentioned that Nelson is a Master Sommelier as well as the owner!  In chatting with Nelson, I found out that this group won 4th place at a state-wide Martini competition last year and Nelson himself also appreciates a great martini and the finesse involved in its creation.  He’s planning a vodka tasting event, as well as various wine tastings, wine education nights and wine flight samplers.  Did I mention that Nelson brought 1249’s resident Chef from London?  Visit their website and sign-up for Nelson’s newsletter so you don’t miss a thing.

Having a fabulous martini and wine bar so close promises many return visits.  I’m so excited about 1249 Wine Bar that I can’t wait for my next specialty martini fix!  Loads of experience and bang for your buck here, that’s for sure!

If you’ve been to 1249 Wine Bar, tell us about it.  If not, we highly recommend giving them a try and be sure to tell them the Martini Hunters sent ya!


1249 West Main Street, Waterbury, CT

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