Tuesday, June 8, 2010

i wish i could drink like a lady

I love bars. I'm not exactly a barfly, a la Charles Bukowski, but I do love a dirty old dive with Sinatra on the jukebox. Or a swank hotel bar with soft lighting and cushy seats. And now that I no longer live in New York, I'm a lot less choosy. If the bartender doesn't look confused when I order a Manhattan, I'm happy.

I have, however, now found my cocktail heaven on earth, in a new joint that has opened right here in Grand Rapids called the Viceroy. It's modeled on a 1930s speakeasy, and it opened two weeks ago. And I've already been there. Four times.

Andy and I made our fourth visit last Saturday. We had intended to get a snack at the Festival of the Arts first, but it was raining, so, boo hoo, we had to go straight to the Viceroy. Boo. Hoo.

Here's what I wore: my favorite skirt, a painted 1950s circle skirt that I've had for ages, a blouse from Target (I've had it at least 10 years), a 1950s shrug, and a pair of 1960s shoes from the Etsy shop.

Andy wore one of my favorite shirts--1950s cotton with the coolest Japanese lantern print.

In keeping with the speakeasy theme, the bar has a secret code you need to punch in to access the front door, and you can only know that code by being a fan of the Viceroy's Facebook page, or by knowing someone else who does. It's a cute gimmick--but I'm more interested in the cocktails! The drink menu is a mix of classic cocktails and some new creations. We always sit at the bar. Watching the drinks being mixed is a good part of the fun.

We have been lucky on three of our four visits to be served by bartender Tory. He knows his drinks, and is very inventive. If you sit at the bar when Tory is on duty, he will ask you what you like. (I like gin!) Do you like floral flavors? (maybe, sometimes) Do you like sweet or more dry? (dry!) And so on. Then he'll whip something up. It's like having a bespoke perfume made before your eyes--only it costs a fraction of that, and you get to drink it!

This is a Tory invention called the Cowgirl Lucy. (Sorry my cocktail photos are a bit blurry; I refuse to use my flash.) The Cowgirl Lucy is a bourbon drink with mezcal; it tastes a bit smoky and slightly sweet. Tory served it with sage flowers from his garden; I got a whiff of sage with each sip.

This is another Tory invention, called the Dynasty. I can no longer recall what the heck was in this (there's a chunk of cucumber there, and I know he said ginger syrup), but I remember the drink did have a slightly powdery vanilla scent to it, and yes, did make me think of Krystle Carrington!

This is an old cocktail called The Lady Macbeth. I'd never heard of it before, but they are generally made with champagne, port and lemon. It was fizzy yet a bit dark, and Tory made it for me after asking me to name a favorite actress (Elizabeth Taylor). Brilliant!

I'm so glad a bit of Cocktail Culture has made it to western Michigan. If you're in Grand Rapids, please visit the Viceroy. They have a nice range of local beer on tap for you non-cocktail drinkers (Andy).



  1. oh, that sounds like so much fun! I love the idea for a code on the door- too cute! That japanese print top is so adorable! xoxo

  2. laughing because the only way to have remembered all of those details was to have been drinking like a "lady", clearly! two of those in a row and all the finer points get blurry...(pssst, I have those shoes!)

  3. Love that there's a secret code to get in! How fun!I need to find a dive bar :)

  4. AWESOME post, Karen! I think we have the same taste in drinks and bars! :)

  5. Yummy! That'd be a regular haunt for me, too, if I lived there. Those drinks sound amazing!!

  6. Sounds like great fun Karen!

  7. Such a cool place to hang out Karen and I am so jealous of your new found friend in the barkeep.

  8. sounds divine. i miss sitting at a bar having cocktails....

  9. All of those sound tasty, especially the first (mmmmm...bourbon + sage).

  10. I am soo excited you posted this! Thank you, I can not wait to take my husband there this weekend!

  11. the 2 of you look cute ...again! Tacoma used to have The Monsoon Room...tiny and hot, and sophisticated...but it's gone now. Tacoma is a hard place for sophistication....

  12. There is nothing like a great swanky bar! There are some great ones here in Berlin, of course, but one of my favs is actually in Alameda, CA where my brother and mom live. It's called Forbidden Island and it's a Tiki bar where I discovered Mai Tais actually rock!


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