(/ˈæstər/), noun: Ancient Greek, for “star.”
- A genus of hardy perennial flower, with diverse forms, hues, and habits. An important food source for bees and other pollinators, integrated into local ecosystems.
- An aster-ism is a pattern of stars in the night sky, including known constellations and others more mysterious, inspiring contemplation and reflection.
- A “social sippery” where old friends gather and new ones are made. Where locally-grown herbs elevate refreshing cocktails, alongside ambrosial wines and delicious beers. Where riveting stories and delectable snacks are shared. A warm, inspired atmosphere, inside and out; a place to gather and sip.
Aster, a “social sippery,” opened its doors on January 5, 2018. Located in the heart of the Central Business District, it aims to be a gathering place. Led by the team from Sleepy Bee Cafe, it will be similarly versatile and crowd-pleasing – with herb-infused cocktails (some that are non-alcoholic), a succinct menu of food offerings including snacks, tapas-style spreads and pressed sandwiches, and special offers and pairings for both happy hour and late-night crowds.
Frances Kroner, the executive chef of the Sleepy Bees and Aster, says the goal of Aster is to improve upon the cocktail lounge – to make it feel as beautiful as the space deserves and as comfortable and warm as a friends’ house party.
Aster inhabits the top floor of a newly renovated three-story building on Fourth St. near Vine. The building itself is over 100 years old and many of the design decisions were made to include and highlight the existing features, including the leaving the 30 foot ceilings, exposed wood-beam trusses and brick wall as well as re-purposing beams and wood from the demolition into light fixtures and the bar facade. Many of the new elements were created for the space by artists at the Brazee Street Studios, such as the glass tiles and dishes and the repurposed wood shelves for the back-bar. And the piece de resistance, created by artist and co-owner Sandra Gross collaborator Leah Busch, is an original sculpture in glass and wire that hangs in the center of the room, merging the images of flowers and the night sky.
While the space impresses with grandeur, the menus and service will bring the warmth. Chef Kroner created a menu outline of snacks, tapas, and pressed sandwiches that will allow for her and Sous Chef Emma Cotter to play with ingredients as inspiration strikes, but also give the guests a consistent set of options. The menu stays on the lighter side, with an emphasis on vegetable preparations and punchy spice blends, but the accompaniment of house flatbread – Carta da Musica – and the pressed sandwiches keep it hearty enough to enjoy as a meal and stand up to more robust cocktails and beers. Highlights of the opening tapas menu include a mushroom bacon dish – smokey, spicy and sweet shiitake “bacon” served with ricotta, chimichurri and almonds – and the portobello carpaccio – bright and flavorful marinated portobellos with shaved pecorino, arugula puree, and pine nuts.
To create the cocktail menu, Chef Kroner brought on Giacomo Ciminello as Beverage Director (previously of Sundry and Vice) to curate various herbal infusions and adaptogens into a unique cocktail list that reflects the color and power of nature and includes options for health as well as indulgence. The Kavacon, for example, is a refreshing, bright pink (hibiscus-imbued) take on a classic cosmo with a stress-reducing twist. And the house-brewed kombucha and other teas will be a base for cocktails both alcoholic and non. The wine list, constantly being perfected by General Manager, Zachary Shumate, will feature organic and natural wines from new and old world regions.
Aster will be open:
|Monday||4:00pm – 12:00am|
|Wednesday||4:00pm – 12:00am|
|Thursday||4:00pm – 12:00am|
|Friday||4:00pm – 1:00am|
|Saturday||brunch: 11:00am – 3:00pm|
open until 1:00am
|Sunday||brunch: 11:00am – 12:00pm|
Aster will be available for private parties, by arrangement.
Sleepy Bee Café will be opening its third location (others in Oakley and Blue Ash) on the first floor of the same 4th Street building in mid-February. In addition to it’s now classic fare, Sleepy Bee will also be expanding its catering offerings for clients downtown and beyond.
These projects involved:
Owners: Sandra Gross and Dr. John Hutton
Executive Chef, Partner: Frances Kroner
Executive Sous Chef, Regional Manager: Emma Cotter
General Manager (Aster): Zachary Shumate
Beverage Director (Aster): Giacomo Ciminello
Architect: Michael McInturf Architects (MMA)
Builder: HGC Construction
Special Guest (artistic collaborator with Sandra Gross): Leah Busch
Contact: Aster Social Sippery