Double Your Helix, Double Your Fun

Ray Nisi expands his wine empire, adds whiskey

Town Square has a new lease on one lively crossroads now that Ray Nisi and partners have signed on to open a second Double Helix wine bar—both featuring whiskey—in the former Grape space at the busy intersection shared by Blue Martini, Yard House, Cadillac Ranch and Lolita’s. Double Helix Wine & Whiskey Lounge is slated for a mid-May soft opening with a Memorial Day weekend grand opening.

“We feel this is a perfect way to expand our brand,” says Nisi, who opened the original Double Helix wine bar in the Shoppes at the Palazzo in 2008. Construction is under way in the new 2,800-square-foot space. Outside, the patio will be extended to accommodate a fire pit. In the kitchen, there will finally be a gas line for cooking, and that’s where chef Doug Vega (formerly of Daniel Boulud’s DB Brasserie) will turn out wine- and spirit-friendly small-plates menu that includes cheeseboards, salumi and other lounge-y, sharing fare for $15 or less.

From the full bar, Nisi plans for 25-30 unique by-the-glass wines from his Enomatic wine preservation system, full bottles, flights and his signature “winetails” as well as up to 50 whiskies. Both wine and whiskey enthusiasts can look forward to barrel tastings, visiting producers, tastings and pairing dinners.

“I was the wine guy amongst my friends,” Nisi says. Forced to settle for poor wine at most bars, this new lounge was created with that in mind. “I don’t want anyone to feel left out.” Where the Grape was austere, Double Helix intends to add warmth. “We want an atmosphere kind of like going to someone’s home,” Nisi says. Couches, careful lighting, coffee tables and highboys will join the traditional dining-height tables and booths. The front door, too, has relocated, allowing the large center glass windows to retract completely, opening the entire venue up to the heated/cooled/misted patio.

The lounge will open at 5 nightly, plus lunch Thursday-Sunday and brunch on Sundays.

Things won’t slow down for Nisi with that opening. In early September, the partners will debut Bottles & Burgers by Double Helix, a 5,000-square-foot, double-terraced addition to Summerlin’s mounting Tivoli Village lineup. “It’s our biggest project to date,” Nisi says. As its name implies, the casual concept will feature inspired burger creations with half-bottles of wine.

Nisi is a self-proclaimed fanatic for great service. At both locations, he will train a knowledgeable staff to sell wine without being snooty or pushy to a crowd that may include as many walk-ins as it does aficionados. “I like that we can capture new people who may not know us,” he says, “that we can bring them in and make them fans.”