This weekend held a fabulous surprise. It took a guide, a password, two secret doors, and two flights of stairs to discover it, but the result was complete transportation from convention.
Perhaps, I should pause to comment on how much I enjoy occasionally abandoning convention. You see, for the most part, I am incredibly conservative. I don’t like to gamble or take risks. I don’t make rash decisions. I’m one of those people who does fairly well with the day-to-day routines. I cook. I clean. I go to the grocery store. A lot. Yet, occasionally, these routines start to suffocate me, and I crave a bit of adventure. So that might explain my complete delight with finding myself in a speakeasy, more specifically a Prohibition Era-themed speakeasy in the middle of downtown Orlando.
Yes…a speakeasy…as in a hidden, password-protected bar offering sumptuous cocktails and a touch of rebellious transgression.
This form of transgression was right up my alley, for there were no DJs mixing electronica or sweaty masses of people grinding under neon lights. Instead, the glow of ornate chandeliers was just enough for me to make out the writing on the cocktail list. Everything sounded exotic and delicious, but not in a Caribbean island sort of way. No, these were historically-inspired libations that clearly required more than a shot of Jager and a mixer to bring them into existence.
Although I technically ordered off the menu, the bartender revealed his aptitude for mixology as he proceeded to ask me a series of questions in order to customize my cocktail to my personal inclinations—so he said. The experience definitely threw me off initially because I’ve never had a bartender ask me for much more than my order. This one wanted to make sure he had the correct balance between citrus and bourbon and effervescence. Despite being slightly disconcerting at first, I found myself enamored with his attention to detail and ended up giving him complete creative control over my beverage. He paid the same level of attention to my companions’ preferences, which gave me the opportunity to drink in the details of my surroundings.
We stood in a very small room with brick walls and dark wooden floors and accents. All of the frames for the artwork were elaborate, and the overall effect was intoxicating—sorry the pun wasn’t initially intended, but then I kind of liked it. In any case, it was like being in the middle of a secret or a dream. Part of my brain knew that I was only several walls away from seedy Orlando night clubs, but my eyes were convinced that somehow I had stepped back into 1922.
This feeling followed me out to the patio, where a wall of ornate mirrors reflected clouds and strings of lights. From my perspective, I could see an inky night sky, framed with the brick of surrounding buildings. Again, the effect was truly surreal.
After some time and a good deal of pleasant conversation, our drinks arrived. Clearly, this was not the type of place to grab a quick drink. No, this was about the experience, which to my pleasant surprise did include a delicious cocktail. Yes, his citrus-bourbon concoction left nothing to be desired. He had nailed it.
Between sips of my new favorite libation, I found myself considering what I can only describe as the oddities of such a business model.
The bar was designed as a speakeasy, so there’s very little advertising.
The password required effort from the patron.
The location was tiny.
There were only a handful of people there besides us.
And the drinks took a good deal of time to mix and serve.
Yet, all of these elements made the experience so much grander. It was as though the entrepreneurial vision included and cherished an attention to detail above all else.
It was this attention to detail that captivated me and drew me in. For the first time in weeks, I didn’t care how late it was, or that we had a long drive ahead of us, or that I had to get up early the next morning. All that mattered was being under a dreamy night sky with my husband and our good friends, the ebb and flow of our laughter, and the soft glow of incandescent bulbs on weathered brick.
Seemingly insignificant details.
And yet, these are the details that really do matter.
So thank you, speakeasy, for giving me so much more than a tasty beverage.