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With L.A. roots, Space Banana bar to bring ‘crazy’ cocktails, outer

Jun 24, 2023

People who quiz Brandon Dismuke about his planned cocktail lounge, Space Banana, occasionally make a false assumption.

After all, the place will be in downtown Boise.

And it will have an alleyway entrance.

"Is it a speakeasy"? Dismuke says with a laugh. "No, it's a speak loudly! We want everyone to know where it is."

Word of mouth should take care of that.

Offering outer-space flair with a "higher-end vibe to it all," Space Banana's galaxy will be at 816 W. Bannock St. Shooting for a fall debut, the lounge will be unlike anything Boise has seen, Dismuke says. That goes from the moment you hit the entry room with mirrors making it seem like you’re "standing in infinity," he says, to when you sip "crazy" cocktails inspired by the three owners’ daytime gig: Los Angeles-based Happy Hour Agency.

"Happy Hour is an experiential cocktail creator that comes up with these really wild, off-the-wall concepts and craft cocktails that are very, very different from what you would normally think of," Dismuke explains.

Happy Hour's artsy drink creations have included a blue Old Fashioned served in what looks like a Windex bottle, booze in a toothpaste tube, even a can of caviar that's a cocktail.

Dismuke's partners, Eliana Dominguez and Irene Martinez — also co-owners of Space Banana — "are really who make all the magic. And I am more of the business guy." Dismuke and Dominguez also are the team behind Made By Us, a creative studio.

Dismuke is familiar with Idaho. He grew up in Boise, moved to Los Angeles for 10 years and "started all this with my partners" before returning in 2017. Dominguez plans to relocate to Boise, he says.

Space Banana will be Happy Hour Agency's first bar.

"Up until this point, we have done these on a temporary basis," Dismuke says. "As an example, we will do, like, longstanding pop-ups in Los Angeles, where we take down a space, come up with a concept and decorate ... create this experience, these little moments that people can interact with. And then we’ll create a set of cocktails that speak to that theme."

One of the drinks planned for Space Banana will be similar to The Source, a unique, mezcal-based concoction infused with shiso and tarragon syrup. It was made exclusively for Meow Wolf's Omega Mart in Las Vegas. Happy Hour Agency created the art experience's cocktail menu.

Served in a custom glass, it's a "smoke bubble cocktail" with "this kind of glass ball effect on top of it," Dismuke says. "And then you pop it, and it releases these aromatics. And then there's a drink inside of it."

Does your head feel ready to pop? Suck in some oxygen. As out-of-this-world as Space Banana sounds, the owners want it to be down-to-Earth, too. Specialty cocktails probably will cost around $17 to $20, Dismuke says, but plenty of vodka and sodas in the $8 range also will be served.

The bar will have a lounge area — with bottle service available — plus an "interactive" dance floor powered by EDM. "There will be DJs all the time," he says, "with the idea that this is a place to come and dance and just have fun."

The owners are targeting a Halloween opening, but plenty of work will need to be done. Including creating an exterior entrance. Previously, Space Banana's 1,600 square feet was office space. It's in the same building as Mad Swede Brew Hall, but bargoers won't see it from Bannock Street. They’ll navigate to Space Banana from the other side.

"The city has allowed us to punch a hole in the back alley to create a door," Dismuke says.

He thinks the City of Trees is primed for Space Banana. Downtown drink destinations such as Kin (and its tiny, high-rise Ampersand bar), Thick as Thieves and Water Bear Bar have elevated quality, he says. Space Banana will add its own intergalactic dimension: "We’re not stepping on anybody's toes. We’re creating our own space."

He compares Space Banana's aesthetic to one of Happy Hour Agency's favorite clients, the immersive Meow Wolf arts installation in New Mexico.

"Not only is there nothing like this here," he says, "you would have to go to Santa Fe to get the next closest experience to this."