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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Speakeasy in Albany

It was raining. Long tan rain coats filled the streets. And of all the gin joints in all the world, I walked into this one: the new Speakeasy in Albany.

There was a man playing an old piano, and a few others on bass, guitar, and trombone. You could hear them outside the brick building, beckoning thirsty Thursday guys and dolls from the rain.

The front door of the Speakeasy, in the basement of the City Beer Hall, had boarded up windows and a doorbell. We rang and were greeted by a red light and a dame who showed us inside to the hostess - she took down my boyfriend's information since he had been given one of the "keys" to the newest and swankiest bar in town.

Everyone inside was dressed to the nines - long pearls, short dresses, suits and ties. As their drink menu says: "Please dress sharply, and speak easy." The band played on, some danced, but most drank.

There are about 30 items on their drink menu with a section for Prohibition Era cocktails and New World Concoctions. There's also high-end beer and wine on draught.

The ambiance really is something from the 20s or 30s. There's no phones (not allowed, according to the rules below). Black and white photos line the brick walls of the dimly-lit bar with upolstered couches in one corner and a staircase leading into the City Beer Hall in another. (though the stairway is used as an exit only and you cannot re-enter the Speakeasy from those stairs)

There's friendly and polite bartenders, who truly believe in serving ladies first as a true gentleman should, and small booths lit mainly by candles. Even the bathrooms were classy and well-decorated.

The music was perky, entertaining and not too loud.

The one thing lacking was cigarette smoke and yet the bar still has a smoky atmosphere - possibly due to one of the drinks requiring lemongrass smoke.

Drinking selections include: the Moscow Mule - Boyd & Blair Vodka, Fresh Lime Juice, and Fentiman's Ginger Beer; Jack Rose - Germain Robin Apple Brandy, Cornelius Applejack, Fresh Lemon Juice, and House-made Grenadine; and Corpse Reviver #2 ($12)- NYDC Dorothy Parker Gin, Lillet, Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao, Fresh Lemon Juice, which is what my fella ordered and said was pretty tasty.

The New World items included a Ramp Up, Reve de Aubrey, Curtain Call, Papa Doble, Triple Threat, Smoking Bluegrass, Damn the Torpedoes, Midnight in the Italian Alps, and Malice in Wonderland. There's also six-ounce pours of Red Tail Ridge Riesling ($9), Saintsbury Pinot Noir, Evil Twin Pilsner ($7), Unibroue Blanche de Chambly ($7), and Goose Island Bourbon County Imperial Stout ($14). Wines by the glass: Bocelli Prosecco ($11), Grifoni Offinda Pecorino ($10), Rueda Basa Verdejo ($11), Epilogue Chardonnay ($12), Dom. de Pellehaut Cote de Gascogne ($9), Vina Bujanda Resv. Rioja ($13), and Desert Wind Rhua Red ($15).

Now for the "rules" depicted on their drink menu:
"This bar is open to anyone, but not for everyone. In order to maintain our peaceful, secretive existence beneath the city, we require the respect of these following house rules: Tables are reservation only. Bar seats are first come, first served. Priority is reserved for members. Please dress sharply, and speak easy. Mind your manners. No phone use or photography. Please be patient. Quality cocktails take time. And Love. Do not bring anyone here unless you would leave that person alone in your home. You are responsible for the behavior of your guests. Cash payment due upon receipt of services rendered."

So, to clarify for the above rules, *anyone* is allowed to go here. But, being a smaller bar, there is likely a capacity limit that could be reached. The exact hours of the Speakeasy are Tues-Fri: 5pm-Close and Sat 8pm-Close. You can make a reservation by calling 449-2332.

Well, folks, as they used to say: "Now you're on the trolley!" But, remember, loose lips sink ships.


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