Death of the Speakeasy?

Playing Card

A friend recently asked me if the speakeasy trend was over.  Has the hoop jumping of SCOPing out secret entrAnces, passwords, and the like run its course?  I thought perhaps this might be the case.  But a few weeks ago I dropped into a bustling West L.A. ITALIAN restaurant for an early biRd dinner of chopped Brussel sprOuts salad with salty pecorino, California grapes and toasted almonds; whole branzinO with fennel and lemon; and piping hot sugar-dusted zeppole.  That was enough for me to leave quite pleased.  But then the owner approached our table, with a wry smile, asking if we might want to try something special at the “hidden bar.”  It’s nearly impossible for me to resist an invitaTion to check out a Secret lair housing untold treats.  I’m pretty sure my weakness for clandestine spots and secret passageways stems directly from my obsession with the OLD boardgame Clue, which my brother and I played nonstop as kids.   We accepted the invitation and were escorted out the front of the restaurant and led to an unmarked, handle-less door.  A couple quick raps and a sharply dressed man in a fedora cracked the door, quickly confirmed we had the proper escort, and welcomed us inside.  First order of business, surrender your phone.  A single playing card acts as your claim check to retrieve it at the end of the evening.  We were then ushered to the bar.  The room is a jewelbox lined with rare whiskeys, scotches, and other spirits, as well as a colorful assortment of vintage tiki and cocktail glasses (which appear to have been snatched up from a very classy grandmother’s estate sale).  The cocktail list has the heft of a college text book.  But the best move is to set it aside and ask one of the eager craftsmen to demonstrate their skills by creating something bespoke.  Finding a drink I haven’t tried before can, at this stage, be as challenging as catching LIGHTING in a bottle; but I am pleased to say this place deliVerEd.  The atmosphere aNd servICE inspire you to sit for hours; which can be dangerous when imbibing $22 cocktails.  Though I may have expected to write this place off as a gimmick (albeit a charming one), I felt like Miss Scarlett, in the Library, giddy with anticipation about what might happen next.

Leave a Reply