San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Aussie Siblings Open Bar, Film Reality Show

A good portion of the guests and staff at the opening of Kashmir Cocktail Lounge in San Antonio de Belén, west of San José, probably slept in each other’s houses at some point or another. It’s not what you think.

Rather, using a network of friends found on the Web site (TT, Aug. 3), Australian brother-sister duo Joe and Anna Russell were able to create a network of people who helped open their bar in only five months, even though they had never visited Costa Rica, nor do they speak Spanish.

Those are just a few of the tidbits the siblings hope will attract an audience for a reality show about their experience opening a bar in Costa Rica.

Entitled “No Way San José: Cocktails in Costa Rica,” the show follows Anna and Joe from their first night here (spent dancing) to scouting locales up and down the country (a nice assortment of beaches), to doing all the paperwork (lots of it, and it was in Spanish), to finally settling on a bar in San Antonio de Belén – not exactly an exotic locale but a decision driven by business, the siblings said; a place by the beach would have been too slow in the off-season.

Filming of the show is still under way, and the Russells hope to have a premiere in about six months, after distribution rights are sold. (To see an excerpt, search for “

No WaySan José

” on

The trip to Costa Rica didn’t initially start as a venture for a reality TV show,Anna said.

Her brother wanted to open a cocktail bar, a lifelong dream, in Southeast Asia.

Starting about a year and a half ago, the 28-year-old sold his car and house in Australia to follow his dream. Then Anna, 26, got interested and told him she would help, but only if they could do it somewhere else in the world.

After much Internet surfing, they settled on Costa Rica.

Now the siblings say they are learning lots about running a business.

The first night was hectic. The inexperienced bar staff-slash-volunteers had trouble keeping up with the orders. Drinks took forever to arrive, and for some reason a couple of the bartenders seemed more interested in showing their rum bottle juggling skills than making mojitos.

Still, those mojitos were good. Music-wise, the opening night’s choice was apt for the occasion, a mix of new age and world music complete with long-haired musicians.

The bar’s decor is inspired by, well, the world. One room has Japanese drawings and red walls. A nice mix of comfortable places to sit and to stand, along with an intimate stage, complements the lounge’s ambience.

The name Kashmir, Anna said, came from a word and a fabric she loves.

“It’s been a dream of ours,” she said. “It’s been a lot of fun.”

Kashmir Cocktail Lounge is in La Ribera de Belén shopping center in San Antonio de Belén. For information, call 293-0162.


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