There is a certain amount of whimsy attached to Stache, the speakeasy-style nightspot having its grand opening Saturday night in downtown Fort Lauderdale’s Himmarshee District, but its intentions are quite serious.
Befitting the secretiveness of the Prohibition-era theme, the entrance to Stache is hidden behind a little trickeration: The door is under an awning (new) marked “Himmie Health Club” (109 SW Second Ave.). But once inside — the old Green Room space transformed into a 1920s-style drinking den — it will be quickly apparent how straightforward Stache is about its booze.
“We are very serious about this,” says owner Jeff John, CEO of 3-J Hospitality, which also runs next-door hotspots Revolution Live and America’s Backyard. “There will be bottles here that you can’t get anywhere else.”
John has done his homework on the twin trends of speakeasies and craft cocktails, in his hometown of Chicago (favorites are Untitled, Gilt Bar and Bavette’s Bar & Boeuf) and in South Florida, citing the “very successful” craft cocktail vibe found at Broken Shaker and Blackbird Ordinary in Miami and Sweetwater Bar and Grill in Boynton Beach.
And if John was going to jump onto the trend, he was going to go big. And that meant John Lermayer.
Something of a bartending deity since his days at Skybar at the Shore Club and at the Florida Room at the Delano, Lermayer is in charge of the drinks at Stache, from curating the liquor to the training of the all-new staff. John says the bartenders have been in “school” for a month, with Lermayer bringing in national and international experts in rum, tequila and whiskey to lead training sessions.
“We just had a top-of-the-line guy in the world of vermouth and … he did a six-hour class on botanicals and the history of vermouth,” John says. “But we need them to understand what the customer’s needs are, what their tastes are.”
Lermayer had needs, too. John says that along with buying special glasses, ice machines and juicers, he has stocked the bar with unusual, high-end bottles (among them Krug Champagnes, Ford’s gin, Don Julio 1942 tequila and Spring44 Straight Bourbon Whiskey from Colorado). He laughs when asked about his liquor bill, which he estimated could push $50,000.
Along with the drinks, Stache will have a house band, called the Bourbon Band (Green Room favorite Bobby Lee Rodgers on guitar, backed by horns and a standup bass), and local burlesque performers will be frequent guests. Executive chef Shashank Agtey also has created a fresh menu of tapas and desserts.
Like restaurateur Mark Falsetto, who just opened Himmarshee Public House around the corner, John sounds confident he’ll make his bar tab back and then some.
“This is the perfect time to launch. You look at what is going on with all the development … Fort Lauderdale is on its way back. In the next couple of years, there will be more educated, professional people coming back to downtown and to Himmarshee,” he says. “We’ll be ready to go after them.”
Info: 954-449-1044, BarStache.com.
YOUR WEEKEND PLAYLIST
West Palm Beach’s The Band in Heaven this week debuted a video for “Music Television,” from their latest collection of pop confections, “Caught in a Summer Swell.” The trippy animation, directed by singer-artist Alice Cohen, is a perfect marriage with the fuzzy retro jangle of TBIH’s “tribute to the old bad days of MTV, the liquid television days.” Even MTV Hive took appreciative notice and shared the video. The Band in Heaven will play Respectable Street in West Palm Beach on Dec. 12 on a bill with Beach Day and the Thermals. In the mean time, find “Caught in a Summer Swell” here.
AGAIN WITH THE WORDS?
It’s hard enough to live down all the timeworn South Florida cliches — we’re too bookish, too cultural — without help from the Betsy Hotel. But here they go again, hosting a mob of word people (poets, no less!) in the B Bar at 7:30 p.m. Friday to celebrate the release of the 2013 Best American Poetry anthology, edited by Denise Duhamel of Florida International University. Others involved in the evening, hosted by the Writer’s Room at the Betsy and the nonprofit University of Wynwood, include series editor David Lehman, Campbell McGrath, Maureen Seaton, Emma Trelles and Jesse Millner. The Betsy is at 1440 Ocean Drive. Info: BetsyWritersRoom.com.
POETRY WITH KICK
Lest we forget, Matt Kramer, who came to prominence in the early ’90s as lead singer with the power-rock band Saigon Kick, has also produced two books of poetry, the most recent 2012’s “A Book of Poems From the Smallest of Towns.” Kramer and the reconstituted Saigon Kick will perform a homecoming concert on Saturday at Revolution Live (100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Admission to the all-ages show is $20. Wyldfly and Urban Rebel open, with Saigon Kick on at 9 p.m. Info: 954-449-1025, JoinTheRevolution.net, SaigonKick.com.
When you throw a hoedown on the lush grounds of the Sonoma House (220 NE 11th St., Boca Raton), the barnyard games, authentic country attire (note: there is a contest) and dancing to the twangy goodness of Uproot Hootenanny must be joined with curated whiskey cocktails, craft beers and the culinary creations of Dennis Max (for example, one of the five food stations will offer a cocktail made with 357 Maple Rye Whiskey alongside pumpkin-and-white-chocolate bread pudding, with a maple-whiskey Anglaise). The event, called the Whiskey Bent Hootenanny, is from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and benefits the Tri-County Humane Society. Tickets: $65, $55 per couple, $45 each for six at TheSonomaHouse.com or $75 each at the door.
DRINK WITH YOUR DOG
Or you could support your pet by having a drink with your pet at the eighth annual Mutts and Martinis happy hour, a four-legged-friendly Friday event with music, drinks, food and a silent auction from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Downtowner Saloon (10 S. New River Drive, Fort Lauderdale). A fundraiser for the Humane Society of Broward County and Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale, admission to Mutts and Martinis is $20 advance, $25 at the door. Info: GoRiverwalk.com.
MARCH AGAINST CRUELTY
Or you can go really simple, and just march. Beginning at noon Saturday, Huizenga Plaza in Fort Lauderdale (Andrews and Las Olas) will be the staging area for the Florida March Against Cruelty to Animals. The 1.7-mile, 30-minute march along Riverwalk to the Broward Center and back hopes to urge locals “to learn about, think about, and stop supporting cruelty to animals in all forms.” The post-walk gathering includes vendors and food trucks selling “100-percent plant-based food.” The march is free to take part. Go to MarchAgainstCrueltyToAnimals.org.
The soul sound of Lee Fields — pure, insistent and vitally authentic after aging like fine whiskey for more than four decades — is an elixir, a healing balm for the wounded heart. Lee Fields & the Expressions perform a free show on Saturday in the nostalgia-stirring Blackbird Ordinary (729 SW First Ave., Miami). Info: 305-671-3307, BlackbirdOrdinary.com.
The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium (4801 Dreher Trail N., West Palm Beach) will show off its new $5 million renovation and expansion with something old, the blockbuster “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition,” opening Saturday. Along with the haunting connection of seeing objects rescued from the ocean floor, there is theater: On entry you will be handed a replica boarding pass of an actual “Titanic” passenger and, after touring a wide variety of mulitmedia educational and historical displays, including re-creations of some of the cabins, you reach a memorial wall where you find out whether you survived the sinking. Tickets: $15, $13.50 ages 62 and older, $11.50 ages 3-12. Info: 561-832-1988, SFScienceCenter.org.
The Gold Coast Derby Grrls take their final hometown spin of the season 6 p.m. Saturday against the Fort Myers Derby Girls at War Memorial Auditorium (800 NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale). The Grrls irreverence in in mid-season form, however, with Saturday’s theme “Revenge of the Derbs,” in which they’re asking fans to dress as their favorite character from “Revenge of the Nerds,” including “jocks, cheerleaders, plastics, nerds, dweebs and geeks!” Tickets start at $10. The after-party is at the 4:30 Boardroom Bar (A1A and Oakland Park Boulavard). Info: Facebook.com/GoldCoastDerbyGrrls.
Bandleader Sergio Dias’ new trajectory for Os Mutantes declares itself immediately on the band’s latest album, “Fool Metal Jack.” Sung in English by Dias, who has moved to the United States (Las Vegas, of all places), the opening track, “The Dream Is Gone,” is a politically charged lament over a country gripped by class warfare that would sound just right on an album by Bruce Springsteen or Alejandro Escovedo. Hear more on Sunday when the trippy Brazilian rock legends perform at 8 p.m. at Grand Central (697 N. Miami Ave, Miami). $20. 305-377-2277 or GrandCentralMiami.com.