Feizal Valli knows how to mix a mean drink. A former bartender at the Collins, he’s about to open up his own shop downtown. Expect lots of costumes and mid-century modern decor when you visit the Atomic Bar and Lounge.

Atomic Bar and Lounge interior.What gave you the idea to open up a new bar on First Avenue North?

I’ve been in the business for quite a while now and opening my own place is the logical next step to that. We (my wife and business partner, Rachael) looked extensively for a location (8 months!), but downtown is where we always wanted to be. It’s where we’ve both lived for the last 10 years. With Second Avenue getting a little crowded, we saw First as a great location with the Wine Loft, Tavern on First and Steel already there, and the Empire Hotel opening next year.

What type of place is the Atomic Bar and Lounge going to be?

We spent the last year traveling the country curating the look and furnishings of the bar to give a pretty authentic experience. It’s a mid-century modern home that happens to have a bar in it. It’s got the style of “Mad Men” with the quirkiness of “The Jetsons.” Wood panelling, shag carpet and local riffs on 60’s art. It’s definitely going to have cocktails but we want to offer something for everyone. It’s not going to take itself too seriously.

What inspires your signature drinks?

That’s easy, the people drinking them. I always say, “if you figure out the drinker, you can figure out the drink.” Too many bartenders these days approach a drink from their own perspective, and attach their own baggage to what they think a customer SHOULD be drinking. A drink should be approachable, not intimidating.

What do you love about Birmingham?

This could take awhile. Everything. The opportunities. The food. The dives. The people. The community of like-minded people all supporting each other’s bands and bars and pop-ups and art shows. Birmingham gave me a home when Katrina took mine away. Birmingham gave me my amazing wife (technically Trussville). And Birmingham gave me the chance to open my own place. So, everything.

What are you most excited about for the Atomic bar and lounge?

We’ve been working on this for a year in January, I’m ready to for it to finally be real. We’re ready to see our old regulars again. I’m excited to be a part of the leap forward downtown is going to make this winter.

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