There is the coolest new Prohibition Bar in Charlottesville, called 9 1/2 Lounge, but shh it’s a secret!
Located at the top of an unassuming staircase inside Fellinis you creep up until you find this sign:
Make sure you read all the rules before you knock.
I was so nervous because though the staff is very nice, if you do not say the password, or if the bar is too full…you will be turned away. They say that if they are too full they will take your cellphone number so they can text you when it thins out, but still for some reason it was such a silly feeling knocking on the door…especially when the slot abruptly opened, and this guy popped out:
Once inside this place is seriously the most amazing nook of a bar. You feel like you took a time machine back to the Roaring 20′s with the dim lighting, jazz music, heavy curtains, and seductive booths. I think it would be the perfect place for a birthday party, reception, or small rehearsal dinner. Infact they let you rent out the place for pretty cheap ,with food and alcohol included!
Now lets get down to the nitty gritty. The drinks. Oh.My.God. These were seriously the best drinks I have ever had in my life. I have been to Cure in New Orleans and Juleps in RVA, both bragging great mixologists, but I have to say this teensy bar in Cville owns hard. I love gin, I could eat it with my cereal in the morning. They made a drink called the Betty White with the oddest mix of gingerbeer, rose water, and cucumber. I cannot describe what it tastes like only to say that it would be like what I would imagine drinking Holy Water from the Fountain of Youth would taste like, it was peculiar, delicious, and refreshing.
It wasn’t just this one drink that made me feel like all the gin and tonics and shitty glasses of house wine I have had in my life were a waste of my time, money, and tastebuds, because we tried one drink from each liquor category and all were absolutley fantastic. I had a tequila drink with orange and hot peppers in it that tasted like the Bloody Mary’s bastard child, in a good way if that makes sense. Our friend Siler had something called “The Flapper” that was like a hazelnut orange cream sickle with a 80 proof kick, and there was another drink with vodka, cranberry, and rosemary that tasted like all the holidays rolled into one happy little liquid.
I will confess and say I did not try anything from the Bourbon/Scotch/Whiskey section, because I have had too many experiences with my old friend Evan Williams at HSC tailgates that led me to agree with Conan O’Brien, “it looks delicious, but then you take one sip and it tastes like a leather furniture store that’s on fire”. Too right you are Coco…too right you are. However, if you are a fan of those spirits I have no doubt that the bevos Lounge 9 1/2 mixes up will be to your liking.
Open for about 10 weeks now, the whole idea for this bar came about when owner Joan Dunkle was visiting Nashville, Tennessee with her boyfriend and was told to check out The Patterson House for a quiet drink after dinner. Joan had to get lost in the middle of Nashville till she found an unassuming house with only one light on and a small plaque that said “Patterson House”. Once she walked in she found a podium with instructions to say a password, then a hostess that appeared from behind a curtain to usher them to the bar. The whole experience led Joan to partner with her mother, owner of Fellinis, and open this cozy watering hole on the downtown mall. Check it out if you are in the area, just find Fellinis and find the staircase and you are golden, just don’t forget to read the sign for the password!