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A First Look At Our Special Artwork by Artist Carmela Caldart

A few months ago, some artwork that accompanied a series of great features in Punch magazine about natural wine and changing attitudes towards certain types of wine in the US caught Katie’s eye. They were bright and full of life, colourful, engaging and had women at the front and centre. Women eating tapas. Women pouring bottles. Women drinking wine without a forced grin or a knowing smirk: women comfortably enjoying the things they loved.

And then there were the bottles and snacks themselves. Vaguely cartoonish in their deliciousness, they begged to be tasted. They showed the excitement and joy of food and drink, of eating and drinking. Underneath the leading image, these digital paintings were created by Barcelona-based artist Carmela Caldart.

We contacted Carmela to ask, first of all, if she was selling prints of the Punch paintings, so we could frame them and hang them in Corto. Of course, these were commissioned by the magazine, and so couldn’t be reproduced for anyone without the magazine’s permission — which we saw as being a long and ultimately costly and probably unsuccessful venture.

“I could paint something for you instead though?” she offered. “Why don’t you commission something of your own?”

Putting grandiose ideas of Napoleon-esque portraits aside, this was an offer too tempting to refuse. But being in the early stages of opening a bar during a pandemic, we didn’t have the readies to pay Carmela what she deserved for the commission.

This is when something amazing happened. On the back of what Katie felt was an extremely cheeky request for donations towards the artwork, it turned out that Corto has some very cool supporters who stepped up and chipped in and made it happen. We were chuffed to bits that within a couple of weeks we could go back to Carmela and say, yes! Do it! Please paint us a beautiful picture!

And she did. And here it is. (Please forgive the watermark which we’re using for now until the big version is printed, framed and hung.)

The Contributors

Here is where we say a huge and heartfelt thanks to the people who donated their hard-earned cash to help us pay for a piece of art that we think helps represent what Corto is and will be — a place very rooted in our hometown of Clitheroe, where everyone can gather and enjoy delicious drinks. So thank you, thank you, thank you to:

Joel Crookes

Cath Potter

Dick Withecombe

Maryanne O’Connor

Chris Norman

Emily Oram

Michael Yates

The Big Unveiling

We’re going to be printing and framing Carmela’s digital painting “Corto” and will hang it with pride on the best wall in Corto (whichever one that ends up being). We’ll have an unveiling, hopefully, on our opening day. More details to follow when we figure out when that will be!!

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A New Website! A Bit Of News! And Some FAQs!

We woke up this morning to a rainbow avalanche of sparkling positivity! Lancs Live wrote a story about Corto and what we’re hoping it can be once we EVENTUALLY manage to get in and start work on it. 

It’s super positive and happy, give it a read

Corto bar in Clitheroe - See you soon!

What we didn’t expect is for loads of people to jump right on board straight away. The positivity and good vibes we’ve received make it a lot easier to carry on working when so much uncertainty is everywhere. Knowing that people are excited for us, and that they want us to do well and succeed… it’s meant a lot. So thank you, you’ve really topped up our positivity tanks!

Not much has changed on the outside but we’ve been doing a lot of admin work in the background, so if it looks like we’re behind schedule… well, we are kinda, but also don’t worry. We’re on top of it. We’ve got this. We’re busy prepping! It’s all good! 

One bit of essential maintenance and prep has been to overhaul the website we made. Turns out we made it bad. But it’s alright because we fixed it, and now we’ve got the functionality to maybe, perhaps, possibly sell merch. Merch! We weren’t planning to, but you’ve asked for it, so we’re looking into what we could sell. If you’ve got any preferences, please shout us on Twitter or Instagram.

Quick FAQ

We get quite a few questions through on social media every day, which is ace. We love your enthusiasm. To help answer some of the most common questions, here’s a bit of an FAQ.

When Is Corto Opening?

Our opening date is still a non-specific date in November. We are working really hard to try and get everything ordered and sorted for November because we want to get a jump on Christmas, but also, we just want to be open asap!

Will Corto Do Food?

First and foremost, Corto is a beer, wine and cider bar. However, we are working with some amazing local producers so we can serve tasty snacks too. Things like artisanal breads, cheeses, dips, pickles, the odd pastry or cake… Little bits to keep you going.

Are Corto Hiring?

OMG we would absolutely LOVE to hire people this early on in the game, and eventually we will be hiring team members. Getting applications already has been super flattering. Unfortunately, at the moment we’re not able to take staff on ethically or financially — we need to learn how the bar itself will work and train how to be managers ourselves (and plus, we need to make some money!) before we feel we can bring anyone into the team.

Where Is Corto?

Corto is at 36 King Street, Clitheroe, BB7 2EU. You’ll find it opposite Orchid Bridal and between Raffia and the Peter Buckley Pharmacy — or, if you’re not familiar with Clitheroe, it’s a very short walk from the train station just past Maxwells and The Old Post House on the left. At the moment the premises is empty after recently hosting Raffia’s print gallery pop-up.

Will Corto Be Serving Gin?

Of course we will have a couple of gins on offer, but we will not be a “gin bar” — there are other bars in Clitheroe that simply do it better! We’re going to focus on having a few great choices of gins, rums and whiskies, alongside excellent vermouth, sherry and port bottles.

Do You Make Your Own Beer? Is Corto A Microbrewery?

No, we will not be making beer on-site. The space is just too tiny! However, we will be collaborating with a local brewery to brew a beer to celebrate our opening, so who knows what the future has in store?

Are You From Clitheroe?

We have lived in Clitheroe for about 7 years, but we aren’t OG locals. Tom is from Great Harwood and originally Rishton, and Katie has lived all over the bloody shop but was born in Lancaster and moved to Clitheroe from Stockport via London, Leeds, Hull, Scarborough and Aberdeenshire. This is why you’ll never guess where her accent is from.

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Joining A Community

We’re super excited to be opening our bar in Clitheroe. It’s our chosen hometown of 7 years (he’s originally from Great Harwood, I’m originally  from… that’d take ages, let’s just say “Lancaster”) and we love it here. We’ve made friends here. We’ve joined the library. We shop at the market. It’s ace.

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Wine List Tasting with Tom and Matt at Whalley Wine Shop

Two wine bottles, a Provence rose and an orange Albarino. A wine glass is filled with rose wine.

On Wednesday 2nd September (oh my god how is it already SEPTEMBER) we spent an awesome evening in the socially-distanced company of Tom and Matt, part of the Whalley Wine Shop dream team, tasting wines from an importer of cool, groovy, unusual wines.

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What does Corto mean?

Four small measures of beer called "cortos"

When Tom and I travelled to Spain to visit The Spanish Yard hop farming cooperative in Castille y León a couple of years ago, the beauty of the place really floored us. Lush green fields of hop bines reaching up to the hot summer sky, blue-hazed mountains in the distance — it was not a Spain we’d ever experienced before.

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