At 'Barter' in Miami, you can trade antique clocks for cocktails
by: Phillip Valys, SouthFlorida.com
Money is entirely optional at Barter, a new Wynwood cocktail lounge and kitchen where thrifty patrons can trade old keepsakes for anything on the menu.
The 9,200-square-foot space (255 NW 27th Terrace, Miami) from owners Richard Barrenechea and Matt Ohashi opened on Dec. 21, luring in some 1,000 drinkers and hagglers over the Christmas holiday weekend.
If the business model sounds utterly millennial, you’ll hear no argument from Barrenechea and Ohashi, two 30-somethings who say their concept seizes on current bartering trends, popular at hipster bohemias such as Burning Man.
“We’re a very millennial bar,” says Ohashi, who with Barrenechea programs the monthly pop-up nightclub called Secret Garden Experience in Miami. “It’s not a common idea yet, to bring something to trade in a bar in order to get drunk. But if you look to the frontiersman days of America, people used to trade with gold. Now people are trading with Bitcoin.”
Ready to negotiate at Barter? Here’s everything you should know about the process.
What can you trade, and which objects aren’t accepted?
Barrenechea says Barter will accept anything “that isn’t really used in modern society anymore, but still functions,” including vintage briefcases and lamps, typewriters, old cash registers and sports memorabilia, well-worn timepieces and mid-century modern furniture. Visitors can trade wares in exchange for store credit, bar tabs or cash at the owners’ discretion.
How’s it look inside?
Barter is an Instagram-friendly hipster bohemia, with 30 multicolored birdcages suspended from the ceiling that house not live birds but vintage wares, such as manual typewriters. Dozens of objects are stacked on tall metal shelving units around the warehouse. Barter is likewise a beer garden and music venue, with dim nightclub lighting inside and an Astroturf-covered lawn outside. Over the Christmas holiday, Barter brought live music from Miami electronica duo Afrobeta.
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, Barter is hardly the first hipster-friendly lounge with a retail twist in Wynwood. At Selima Brawlers, a Wynwood coffeehouse that opened in late October, java is on sale alongside $18,000 Andy Warhol artworks, motorcycles and vintage housewares.
What’s on the food and drink menu, anyway?
Barter’s menu is surprisingly diverse, with “South American street food” – inspired pub fare from chef David Gomez, a former sous chef at Michael Schwartz’s waterfront Miami restaurant Amara at Paraiso, Ohashi says. Dishes, served from a shipping container outside, include hamburger sliders and avocado bowls, Colombian empanadas and tostones, and vegetarian skewers. There also will be six cocktails from Brian Diaz (No. 3 Social in Wynwood), including Green Adventure (gin, green apple, pineapple, mint and cucumber) and Yellow Submarine (tequila, passion fruit, basil, agave and lime juice).
OK, but can you still pay in cold, hard cash?
Yes. Barrenechea and Ohashi expects the majority of visitors won’t come bartering for beer money with vintage telescopes and rotary telephones. “We’re just hoping for people to bring anything in, and not limit it,” says Ohashi, who recently gave a $200 bar tab to someone who traded in a 1980s-era Coca-Cola cooler with a built-in FM radio. “Just make it fun. Like if someone brought a banana peel, we might give them a cocktail just because it’s so ridiculous and we can post it on social media.”