Viridian is Oakland’s first Asian-American cocktail bar and brought to you by an all Asian ownership team. Jeremy Chiu is one of them. He is also a Piedmont High School graduate, class of 2010.
How was Viridian created?
We all worked in restaurants throughout San Francisco and Oakland. We wanted to create a place that we could finally call our own and is representative of our experience as Asian-Americans growing up in the East Bay.
Tell me about some of the unique cocktails and food that you have on the menu.
Everything draws from nostalgia. One of my favorite cocktails is the White Rabbit, which we make with oolong tea and condensed milk. Another one which is honestly our most famous cocktail is called the Tomato Beef. It’s named after a very classic Cantonese dish that you can find literally anywhere in Chinatown. It is made with basil eau de vie, which is a basil spirit, tequila and then clarified tomato water. I have to talk about the food as well. My favorite is the Bo Kho Clay Pot Pie which is a riff on Marie Calendar’s frozen chicken pot pie. So we make that with a Vietnamese beef stew.
Viridian’s bar is neon pink. What is the vibe you wanted to create here?
Someone from the SF Chronicle recently said walking into Viridian is like walking into Blade Runner. I think that is kind of right. Our design philosophy is maximalism, and we got a lot of inspiration from our partners Soon and Soon studios, and they really helped us create an environment that promotes creativity and thought. The lighting is actually inspired by driving through an Asian city and the kind of crazy neon that you see that’s blurred in the windows in that taxi ride.
It seems like all of the local partners you used from the designer you used to the art that you display, everyone is Asian?
For the most part. We obviously love our Asian American artists, but part of owning a space is you’re able to support people that you really care about and love. So while most of the things that we do love are Asian American, we have artists from all different types.
How has the community reacted to Viridian?
Well, we opened in February 2020 and it was incredibly difficult. But we had so much support from not only our loyal customers who supported us throughout the time but the media gave us essentially a second life with all this coverage and we could not have done it without our team.
Viridian was named one of the top 25 restaurants in Oakland by the SF Chronicle, it was also on Esquire magazine’s list of the 27 best cocktail bars in America in 2021 and is on the list of the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2022 sponsored by S. Pellegrino & Acqua Panna.
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