Want to go to a wine rave? Wine cocktails. Glow sticks.

The progenitors of Wine Rave, Maxwell Leer (L) and Adam Vourvoulis (R), pouring a tower of cremant on New Year's Eve at Honeycut.
(David Fernie and Allison Weber)

Ever been to a wine rave? Probably not. But Maxwell Leer and Adam Vourvoulis are hoping you’ll want to come to the one they’re giving at the downtown bar Honeycut on Thursday night. It starts at 11 p.m. And goes until closing. Expect DJs, glow sticks and glowing cocktails made with wine.

Check out the mission statement on “Wine rave is a state of mind. Can you free yourself from color: its sensations as pleasure; as life. Stop swirling. Derobe. Become bioluminescent. Feel a stranger. Listen. Laugh and have fun. Wine rave.”

I don’t know about the “feel a stranger,” but the rest of it sounds fun. Especially when you think that two consummate wine professionals are behind the concept. Leer was until recently the wine director at downtown L.A.'s Bestia, and before that at the Bazaar by José Andrés and the Tasting Kitchen. Vourvoulis, who also recently left his position, was general manager and beverage director at Ludo Lefevre’s Trois Mec and Petit Trois.

On New Year’s Eve you would have found the two at Honeycut pouring a tower of crémant (a sparkling French wine). Come midnight, the place went black and guests were offered glow-in-the-dark cocktails to ring in the new year.


Leer is convinced there has to be a better way to get people interested in wine than talking points or brix or terroir. “It’s too abstract. It alienates people. We’re talking about wine too seriously,” he says. “We want to make people feel more comfortable with it.”

The event is very affordable. The $20 entrance fee buys you a wine cocktail — a rosé and tonic — on draft at the bar, plus wine-based glow drinks passed around by Leer and Vourvoulis. For big spenders, there’s also bottle service, but instead of $150 or $500 a bottle, it’s a mere $30 for a cocktail in a bottle.

At Honeycut, Leer explains, he and Vourvoulis are trying to create a space where they can serve low-alcohol, wine-based drinks that glow under black light. What’s with the glow? It’s about bringing wine into glow culture, creating a visual environment that’s enticing and at the same time getting participants conversant with wine.

Ten years working at restaurants around the country has Leer impatient with winespeak and wine geekery. “Wine can be a conversation or it can just be a drink. In which case, just drink it,” he says. He’d love to strip away the pretensions and get back to a place where we’re drinking wine as we do other drinks.

So leave your Parker vintage chart and list of cult Cabernets at home for this one.

To get a better sense of what a wine rave is, check out their Instagram feed @winerave and roam the website. For updates, follow @winerave on Twitter.

Wine Rave, Thursday, January 8, 11 p.m. to closing at Honeycut, 819 Flower Street, Los Angeles; Entrance and wine cocktails, $20; bottle service, $30.

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