Bethany Clough

No $14 cocktails here. A new Tower District bar is trying something different with prices

Ever taken a selfie with President Lincoln?

You can now, at a new bar that officially opens at 5 p.m. Thursday, April 18 in the Tower District. It’s got a painting of Lincoln on the wall that you can take a photo with, all 6 feet, 4 inches of him – plus his top hat. The words “Drinkin’ with Lincoln” are stenciled above his image.

The business is called The Lincoln Pub & Grub. It’s at 609 E. Olive. Ave, in the former Zen Wok Fusion restaurant space.

They chose Lincoln because he’s on the $5 bill – and that price is what the business is all about.

Most of the cocktails, drinks and food here will cost $5. The hope is that the low prices will bring in lots of people, allowing them to sell more than they would with higher prices.

The partners wanted to make it an affordable place to eat and drink that locals could come to more than once a week.

“We want this to become the neighborhood place where people come in and this is their neighborhood bar,” said Aaron Gossett, who is a partner in the business along with Andy Karsh and David Rasavong.

The drinks

But it’s still a craft cocktail bar. That means its serves cocktails that are part of the growing trend of drinks made with fresh fruit and herbs. You see them at other restaurants and bars, often priced at $12 and up.

Craft cocktails here cost $5. Classic cocktails – like an old fashioned or Sazerac – will cost $7 and use higher quality spirits.

The craft cocktails will be twists on the classics. So the bar will sell a Moscow mule, for example, the drink made with ginger beer, vodka and mint and served in a copper cup. The craft cocktail version of the drink will be Bangkok mule, made with fresh lemongrass and Thai basil instead of mint.

“I think we can do it at an affordable cost,” Gossett said. “You don’t have to charge $14 a drink.”

The bar will also have beer and wine.

The interior of the business (which still has a Karsh’s Catering sign atop it) got a makeover with new lighting, floors and paint. They also expanded the bar itself, which now sits double the number of customers.

And the bar top itself? It’s covered with pennies, tens of thousands of them all lined up neatly and coated in epoxy so the bar is smooth. (Lincoln is on the penny.)

“We literally laid down every single penny,” Rasavong said. “It took us four days.”

It’s why you’ll see them use #pennybar on social media.

The food

The $5 price applies to the food too. The rotating menu will have about eight options of small, shareable plates.

Expect appetizers like Buffalo chicken fries, various types of bruschetta and tempura green beans (that last one is a throwback to a popular appetizer at Zen Wok).

Using many of the same ingredients in the drinks as the food will allow them to keep costs down, noted Rasavong.

The three partners who own the bar have decades of food and drink experience under their belts.

Karsh is the owner of Zen Wok and Karsh’s Catering. Gossett has worked as a general manager at Fresno-area restaurants for 18 years, including some time working at Eureka! and Thai Fusion.

Rasavong was a partner in the former Ivy Room in the Tower District. He grew up in his family’s restaurant business, which used to own Thai Palms and his mother still runs Mama’s Asian Noodle House.

The Lincoln will be open from 4 p.m. to midnight Wednesdays through Fridays, from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays.