While Dig A Pony has been (understandably, deservedly) getting some attention on this blog, it's not the only new bar in town. Last night I checked out Mike Shea's Rum Club, a spinoff partnered with Beaker and Flask's Kevin Ludwig. They've been open for about three weeks though there's still no sign—well, there is a paper sign taped to the door (Shea swore to me that the sign guy was supposed to come today or tomorrow). Like Beaker next door, Rum Club is a cocktail-centric bar. There are beers on the menu, but no wine, and all the cocktails are conveniently priced equally at $8—a bit more than I'm used to paying, but the drinks are, well... powerful. I mean look what Shea ran out and did the night before they opened after admittedly knocking a few back:
The name might conjure a tiki bar association, but Rum Club really isn't one. The decor is heavy on beautiful wood, from the bar to the tables, and even the ceiling, and the walls are covered with a hummingbird wallpaper print that gives the joint a slight grandfatherly quality that's further enhanced by the dim lighting. It would be a perfect hideout for daytime drinkage. (Sun worshippers: there is also a large front patio if you don't feel like hiding.)
Between everything everyone in my party ordered I was able to sample four out of the nine cocktails on the menu (plus a Mai Tai that isn't on the menu): the Rum Club Daiquiri (contains absinthe as well as rum), the Bloodless Coup (white rum, vermouth, pinot noir syrup, blue caracao, and bitters combined to create a murky hue with a somewhat unexpectedly crisp flavor), the Quarterdeck Cocktail (rum, sherry, scotch, orange bitters), and the SOSAP (stands for "son of Salt and Pepper" in reference to one of Ludwig's Beaker signatures). The SOSAP was my favorite (I'm generally on board with salt rims and good tequila) and the fresh grapefruit made for a pretty presentation:
I am pretty sure it was the Quarterdeck that did me in (and I didn't even drink the whole thing). Thick, almost syrupy, it did indeed "taste like breakfast" as Shea had prepped me. Still I had to taste the Mai Tai. How could you pass up something that looks like this?
Rum Club's not really the place to go for a meal; the kitchen is tiny, and the most filling things on the menu are sandwiches—egg salad and deviled ham salad—but the menu's full of snacky bites like a chicken liver mousse plate and a mussels and clams. We opted for the both kinds of pickled eggs (beet and turmeric) and the shrimp cocktail. The eggs made for a cheerful, festive snack—my only criticism is that the beet egg could have used a bigger vinegar kick. Look how cute:
I thought $8 was a bit much for a shrimp cocktail with only four shrimps, but they were huge, meaty, serious shrimp, almost steaky, and the spicy cocktail sauce was so tasty we polished it off on the lettuce garnish.
While probably a bit pricey to become a regular hang, Rum Club is certainly a good option for a splurge, a date, and to impress out of towners with the local cocktail scene. Even with Beaker there, that 720 SE Sandy building still feels like an offbeat destination, easy to miss from the other side of the street, but Rum Club has the advantage of facing the street and calling attention to itself with its outdoor seating. Still, calling the sign guy was probably a good move.