Article by Abby Parks
There’s a buzz happening in Anniston, Alabama.
And that term “buzz” can have several meanings. First, imagine bees happily buzzing as they hover above colorful, luscious flowers in a cozy garden. Next, think of how you feel after finishing a glass or two of classic cabernet sauvignon. And lastly, envision the excitement generated in a community by a chic new place where people can gather together for a classy evening of socializing, entertainment, and spirits.
Guess what? That buzz that’s got people talking, bees humming, and spirits rising is coming from The Lush Garden, the newest (and coolest) wine bar you’ll find in Anniston. Owners Courtney and Cotina Stroud opened their wine bar and lounge, located in a quaint Victorian-style building tucked just around the corner from Quintard on 7th street, in late April. Ever since then they’ve been the talk of the town!
The Theme and Atmosphere
When you walk through its doors, you’ll immediately find yourself in the cozy Magnolia Room, where comfortable lounge chairs surrounding low tables sit facing the picture window, where live music is performed Thursdays thru Saturdays. You may hear the melodies of popular tunes of the 70’s, 80’s, & 90’s played by the soulful saxophonist Robert Grind if you come on a Friday or the occasional Saturday. But other performers, including Vocal Point, Jazz by Two, and Calhoun County favorite Jon Player, have entertained patrons with their unique sounds.
Other rooms, the Hibiscus and Sunflower Rooms, are open so that the music can easily drift through to the ears of customers seated at quaint pub tables. Much of the decor echoes the garden theme with bursts of greenery, rustic containers, stringed lights, and some interesting art pieces. Or you can take a seat at the inviting classic bar and chat with friends or the friendly staff. In the outside garden, there’s adirondack chairs circling a fire pit, garden tables, and the beginnings of the “lush garden” the Strouds are creating.
Cotina explained how the theme for her wine bar and lounge was born out of cultivating her own garden at home during the pandemic, which became their family sanctuary. She wants the same atmosphere at The Lush Garden, but growing a garden from scratch takes time. “It’s not yet what I envision in the garden. I want more flowers and to enclose the space maybe with a privacy fence so it’s a lot more cozy. Maybe add a water feature…I would love for it to be a true oasis like my garden at home.”
The Wine, Other Spirits, and Food
The key element to this evolving haunt, of course, is the wine. From their list, you’ll find a stellar selection of reds, whites, sparkling, rose, and sweet wines, both foreign and domestic. The foreign wines cover exports from Italy, Spain, France, and even New Zealand, while American wines hail from Oregon and the Napa Valley in California. And from sangrias to martinis to margaritas, you can also find the perfectly blended specialty drink at The Lush Garden. They’ve also got a menu of light food items which thoroughly compliment the beverages such as an elegant charcuterie board, Mediterranean flatbread, sliders, fresh garden salads, and other appetizers.
While not yet certified, Cotina is currently studying to earn her CSW (Certified Specialist in Wine). For her and her husband, their inspiration to open a wine bar grew from their passion for good wine, coupled with their visits to wine and cheese bars while on their foreign travels. While vacationing in Belize, Central America for her birthday, Cotina had a pivotal revelation. “We went to a perfect wine & cheese bar, a local place run by retirees. It was cozy, a “Cheers”-type place. I then knew that I wanted something like that in Anniston.”
Upcoming Events and Future Plans
You’ll see Cotina making rounds to greet the guests and make sure everyone is well taken care of. When we chatted once things had slowed down a bit, she shared that she wants the bar to have a welcoming vibe, not snobbish. “I want customers to experience laughter and feel good. We see a lot of new faces each week since we’ve opened. But we’re also seeing a lot of regulars. We really want this to be a home for our local people who just want somewhere nice to go and have a glass of wine. ”
Her future plans for The Lush Garden include wine tastings, a “Friday Night Flights” series where patrons can sample a variety of wines to find their favorites, and other special events. For example, on June 26 they’ll host a “Meditation and Merlot” event where ticket holders will receive a glass of wine and meditation class from local yoga instructor Alex Paige. The Lush Garden is available for private events, and the Strouds also hope to open a retail portion at some point in the future.
For now, if you’re looking for an elegant evening out at a welcoming place that not only offers top of the line food and wine, but also fosters community, visit The Lush Garden at 209 E. 7th Street in Anniston, Alabama. It’s recommended that you make a reservation to ensure you receive a table in your room of choice during peak hours.