The “Prohibition Bar” is the newly renovated hotel bar at Rosewood Hotel Georgia. Its name and themed garnered from a time where drinking meant more than just a wild night out. The prohibition era had diverse peoples coming together in celebration of the drink. And here they invited you to do just that. Take a trip back to this time, the 20’s, to the age of speakeasies. To a place where there were no barriers, just decadence and glamour for all. They immolated the Roaring Twenties with live musical entertainment, sleek interiors, and a sophisticated ambiance. Though unfortunately we would not get to see any of it. Seated close to the entrance, behind a pillar, squinting into a darken room our view was limited.
I was surprised that there was a line at the door, though without one I don’t think I would have known where to go. My instinct was to enter through the lobby via the hotel. Though the stanchioned line, after an unmarked double door, guarded by a larger gentleman was a good indication of the bar just behind. A line and a wait at 7:30pm on a Friday night had me preparing myself for a club vibe. Loud and rowdy instead of the mellow lounge feel I had hoped for, and was lead to believe, having reading their online description. My guest had attempted a visit on a previous night, however her companion came dressed in jeans and as a result both were turned away for not adhering to dress code. Odd as I spotted several men in denim and printed tees tonight. None-the-less she made sure I was dressed to impress and that we would not be turned away again.
After an ID check, without the need to inspect our bags, pay for cover or check our coats in, we were directed to the hostess booth. We opted for whatever was open in order to grab a seat and avoid waiting any further. This gave us our first seats: high top stools by a counter, adjacent to the stage and hidden behind a column. From where we sat we could see large sectionals for group seating, high tops lining the bar that stretched well into the dark of the room, and bodies gathering in a common space. By the looks of things, we were one of the only individuals in for food along with our drinks tonight, so didn’t mind hiding ourselves away as we ate. But as soon as the seats next to us opened up, we decided to upgrade and move down. However our waitress was unable to confirm if this was something we would be able to do, so differed it to the hostess to handle. After catching her attention, not only did she give us the green light, but she thanked us for asking before actioning. In hind sight I was surprised by their ability to accommodate our request on a peak night, and their willingness to let us move knowing that it would throw their seating arrangement off. We were just happy to be able to move two chairs to the right. Our new position not only gave us front row seats to the live band, but allowed us a better view, to take in the expanse of the bar. Oddly situated here, we felt more connected to room; being able to see everything and having everyone be able to see us. Not that we mingled or were seeking any additional attention. But when you go to places like this: where the music is blaring, and you communicate through two word shouts, you can’t help but expect a certain vibe. This need to want to be seen. I felt it here.
As I mentioned, there was a live band playing and we where within spitting distance of then. Normally I do not enjoy dining close to live performers, as I feel the need to constantly acknowledge them, as they become part of my dining space. However these performers, on this slightly elevated stage, facing one another allowed me the freedom to enjoy their talents my way. They played sets of upbeat jazz taking breaks in between. Their breaks were our moments to converse. The music added to the sounds of a good night: continuous chatter, high pitched laugher, and the ping-ing of glass on glass in celebratory cheers.
Before our drinks came we were served a candy of hand held snacks. Savory salted pretzel sticks and mixed nuts. Ideal for taking in one at a time as you sipped your beverage.
They specialize in artisan cocktails and I was going to make sure I tried a few of the more interesting ones.
The “Morning Glory Fizz” was a light cocktail. A good start and build up to some of our heavier spirits to come. Made with scotch, fresh lemon juice, egg white, La Fee absinthe, and charged water. The menu also listed that this cocktail originated circa 1882.
The “Flapper Flip” was also light, it was creamy and went down smooth. It had a feel and taste similar to a watered down chai tea, without all the spices. Made with gin, tawny port, pimento dram, whole egg, bitters, and absinthe.
I have actually had the Hotel Georgia’s signature cocktail with the same name, previously. It is also available at their roof top restaurant. Another cocktail with egg white foam made just as smooth and just as easy to drink. This was a mix of beefeater gin, fresh lemon, orgeat, orange blossom water, egg white, and nutmeg.
The “Port Authority” by comparison had a strong punch to it. Made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, tawny port, house made chocolate liquor, and maraschino.
My guest loves her “Old Fashion”, so could not miss trying their take on it here. I matched her and got one of my favourite classics, a “Bourbon Sour”. My choice continued to keep on with my theme, and to keep up with my preference for cocktails prepared with egg whites.
When in doubt go for the poutine. “Smoked duck poutine” made with fingerling potatoes and duck confit. No where near your typical poutine, let alone your typical bar fare. Tender potatoes thoroughly coated in a light yet luscious gravy with fresh herbs. The duck was plentiful and each piece tender, together they made for a satisfying twist on a Canadian classic.
We figured the “Pickled albacore tuna” with sweet pickles and chips, in its airiness would pair well with our sweeter cocktails. The tuna was hard, I wished it came more raw like how I imagined it would be. More ahi tuna and less flaked tuna. The pickles added a nice sour tang to the naturally seasoned fish. And both would have faired better partnered with a harder and crunchier chip. It would at least have made a better literal platform to carry the dense fish on.
The “Black truffled pate” isn’t something I’d expect to order at a bar, nor did I expect it to be something I’d enjoy this much. Served with sauterene gelée, corichons, and baguette slices this was my favourite dish of the night. The pate was rich and creamy, and full of flavour. I never knew a meat paste could taste this good. The pickles and gel were a nice break in taste and texture. It all together made for an interesting top on chewy bread. I would come back just for this.
Even the washrooms were deserving of the Hotel Georgia name. A row of individual stalls, a room all their own. Furnished with faux marble counters, heavy rich doors, and patterned paper towels. The lighting allowed me to enjoy the elegance, that I imagined the rest of the bar to be.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I line up for it? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
I appreciated the work they put into creating this setting. From the refinement in the drinks and food to the mature crowd that filled the room. A level of casual sophistication that you don’t find at other bars playing top 40. If you are going do this, you do it right. Leave the car at home and be prepared to drink to your heart’s content. Don’t deny your cravings.