I’m going to miss the large grand opening occasion at Fork and Barrel tonight — I am headed to Boston for folks’ Weekend — but it brings to thoughts the house owners’ other place, The Bookstore speakeasy in Bethlehem, which I visited back in August. I’ve been eager to inform you about it — I have been telling everybody else about it in individual, I imply…I can not shut up concerning the place. Here is why.
I was leaving the (I gotta say it) Bourbon, Beer and Bryson Festival at Allentown Brew Works, and I’d been too busy to get a drink — it’s a troublesome life — so I thought, hey, I’ve been that means to check out that Bookstore speakeasy place; why not stop in? I tooled on over to Bethlehem, and dropped down onto 3rd Street, parked on 4th and lower back to Adams on foot. It is, to say the least, unpromising, a totally clean streetblock, except for a hand-accomplished sandwich sign on the sidewalk with the Bookstore’s specials. Sandwich sign? For a speakeasy?
Yeah, that was one of many issues I preferred concerning the Bookstore. They do the speakeasy factor, environment, cocktails, menu, interval costume, and — wait, I am going to get to the opposite factor, which is superior — however they don’t seem to be stupidly precious about it, no “you need to know someone to get in” and “we’re probably not right here” crap like you will see in the big city. It’s more about the expertise as soon as you are inside, not the view (or lack thereof) from outside.
The doorway was a couple of steps down, just a blank door with “The Bookstore” on the lintel. Go in, and there are a couple of show counters with books, a podium, and black curtains. And a horny young lady in 1920s dress at the podium, who will both allow you to in or not, relying on whether or not there may be house. It was just me, and there have been seats on the bar, so she took me proper in. And that’s when The Bookstore dropped my jaw.
First, before she even opened the curtain, the music was superb. Drew Nugent and The Midnight Society have been taking part in their scorching 20s jazz: piano, sax, trumpet, tuba, banjo, and Drew singing — no mike, a megaphone — and it made it so damned real right from the start. They’re not there each week, but when they are… wow.
Then she opened the curtain, and that other factor I discussed hit me: fireplace. There are maybe 4 electric lights in the whole place, and they’re all for the bartenders and musicians. The rest of the sunshine in the place comes from candles and oil lamps, which was magical. And a bit scary at first — I am considering, booze and oil lamps? We’re all gonna die! — until I noticed that the oil lamps have been new, and had thick plastic oil reservoirs. Nevertheless it was so exciting, and gorgeous, and atmospheric. The band was hot, the ceiling was low, and the vibe was electric.
I sat on the bar. There’s an amazing beer selection — a bit of a surprise, I figured it was all-cocktail — however I determined to get a cocktail, as a result of the liquor selection was glorious, the bartenders had been intense, and the ice was incredible. Lengthy drinks — collinses and such — bought long cylinders of ice, cocktails being shaken received hand-cracked ice, so chilly that a recent block that got here out frosted over immediately once they unwrapped it. I ordered a Sazerac, and it was lovely.
Time to take pleasure in. Great drink. Hot jazz; which is really the primary time I understood that term. This was scorching jazz, musicians pushing it, pounding it, transported by the joy of their music. The people in the bar have been all enjoying themselves: foodies, cocktail junkies, jazz lovers.
I assumed I might push it a bit. I looked up a cocktail recipe on my iPhone, and requested the bartender if he might make me one. He looked, smiled, and began mixing. Okay, it’s an easy one: the Frisco, bourbon and Benedictine, but he took it in stride and made it happen. Beautifully stirred, which is an underrated cocktail ability, IMO.
I did not eat — already ate at the Brew Works — so I can’t speak to that. However this was the very best bar experience I’ve had in months, and that i can not wait to go back. The Bookstore is one cool place; get to Bethlehem and check it out.