Holiday pop-up bar is here to stay as intimate cocktail lounge and restaurant in Market Square | Drink | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Holiday pop-up bar is here to stay as intimate cocktail lounge and restaurant in Market Square

click to enlarge Emerson's in Market Square - CP PHOTO: MEGAN GLOECKLER
CP photo: Megan Gloeckler
Emerson's in Market Square

Holiday pop-up bars generally follow the same pattern every season: open after Thanksgiving, close with the New Year. But The Holiday House pop-up in Market Square is breaking from tradition and setting up shop indefinitely as Emerson's, an intimate cocktail lounge and restaurant. 

Emerson’s is owned by the same team behind Market Street Grocery — Ralph and Mimi Falbo, David and Rachel Priselac, and Chad Rapp — and is located one floor above the popular Market Square store. The team succeeded in bringing the neighborly atmosphere of the market to their newest concept; if anything, Emerson’s is even cozier than the wine bar and market below it. 

It was designed around the idea of “found luxury,” which Rachel Priselac described as a blend of three things: their love for California, history, and Parisian cocktail bars, all tied together in a traditional restaurant setting.

California has inspired their newer lounge space, filled with cushy couches, chairs, and a roaring fireplace. The bar area maintains the “deteriorated” history of the building, a beautifully restored 19th-century commercial space. The decor matches the “chic but unrefined” look of Parisian bars. 

Cocktails and natural wines are the primary focus of the menu. Emerson’s operates under a different liquor license than the market’s bar, which allows them to carry a wider range of spirits. (The grocery can only carry liquor and beer made in Pennsylvania.) 

click to enlarge Emerson's in Market Square - CP PHOTO: MEGAN GLOECKLER
CP photo: Megan Gloeckler
Emerson's in Market Square

The cocktail list is built on standards such as the Moscow mule and the old fashioned, but not without a bit of personality. A sparkling Negroni — the gin swapped for sparkling wine – is bright and refreshing. Rosemary finishes off Emerson’s otherwise standard gin and tonic; the Manhattan, finished with a skewer of cherries, is reliable and tasty. 

The wine selection reflects the list downstairs, many from Collefrisio, a vineyard based in Abruzzo, Italy. Emerson’s current natural wine offerings are white, Syrah, and pinot noir. For beer drinkers, there’s a short draft list — featuring local selections from East End Brewing Co. and Arsenal Cider House — along with various bottles and cans. A small list of local charcuterie, personal-sized pizzas, and other bites round out the menu. 

Finding the bar is Emerson’s biggest complication. There are two entrances: one adjacent to the grocery, the other located off of Graeme Street behind the store. Both entrances are well-marked with signs, but for those still wary, Emerson’s has a map posted on its Instagram page.

Emerson’s. 435 Market St., Downtown. Instagram: @emersonmarket


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