Best Of 2019

Best News for Fans of Eastern European Eats: Wodka Bar

Sarah Dworak never thought she would make her living from pierogies. But as the granddaughter of Ukrainian immigrants, she didn’t have a say in whether or not she inherited the gene for pierogi mastery: Her Baba (or grandmother) made sure she learned how to make the little half-moon shaped dumplings, stuffed with fillings like cabbage, potatoes and cheese and served with a generous dollop of sour cream. In 2012, Dworak began selling pierogies to the public and in 2014, her side hustle took over as a full-time gig when she launched Babushka Pierogies out of Findlay Market. The business recently expanded further into Over-the-Rhine, opening a weekend walk-up window at 1200 Main St. for conquering late night-cravings with kielbasa bowls and pierogies filled with everything from pizza toppings to Cincinnati-style lentil chili. The window has proven popular since opening in December, but its presence is only a sampling of what’s to come at the location. This spring will see the opening of Dworak’s Wodka Bar (the “w” is pronounced like an English “v”), which will be housed in the rest of the space attached to the pierogi window’s kitchen. For Dworak, it’s a passion project dedicated to the patron spirit of Eastern Europe. Wodka Bar will carry an ambitious selection of vodkas, stocking upward of 60 types including many Russian, Polish and Ukrainian brands that are lesser known in the United States, as well as several dozen house-infused vodkas. Bar snacks are mandatory of course, but forget about french fries and beer cheese. Instead, you can chase your shots with bites of caviar, pickled fish and vegetables, smoked meats, cheese and butter on dense, dark rye bread. “Traditionally when you drink vodka you always want to eat something with it. We’re going to have some traditional foods on the menu that hopefully people won’t be too scared to try,” Dworak says. She’s not pulling her recipes from any one country, instead focusing on common cuisines found across Slavic cultures. “It’s nice now to be able to pair the food and the drink of Eastern Europe together. It tells a more complete story.” Wodka Bar, 1200 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, wodkabarotr.com and searchable on Facebook.