If I could travel through time, you’d find me sipping a French 75 in a 1920s’ speakeasy.
Without access to a time machine or a DeLorean, I rely on the modern-day speakeasies that are becoming more and more popular throughout the United States to feel like I’ve stepped back into the Gatsby era of jazz, flappers, grand parties, secret bars, and rum running.
Here in Grand Rapids, Mich., my favorite bar — for its fantastic whiskey list, variety of vegetarian and vegan menu options, commitment to sharing local Michigan beers on tap, commendable recycling and composting practices, and stumble-home proximity to my downtown apartment — hosts a monthly speakeasy-inspired event in its own secret room.
The Sovereign Cocktail Club at Stella’s Lounge showcases creative mixology. Hosted once per month — usually from 7 p.m. to midnight on the third Wednesday of the month — bartenders mix a half dozen specially-created craft cocktails.
When I went to the Sovereign Cocktail Club in April, the six cocktails shared an apple theme to coincide with Grand Rapids Cider Week.
The first cocktail I drank was the Vandermiller-Lite. The refreshingly light and sweet cocktail was made with Grey Goose vodka, Coppercraft Applejack, and Vander Mill cider.
I loved that this cocktail featured two local West Michigan ingredients — Holland-based Coppercraft Distillery’s Applejack and Vander Mill cider from Spring Lake. This was my first time drinking Applejack, an aged spirit that tastes like tart Michigan apples, vanilla, butterscotch, and spice.
My second cocktail was the Paladin made with Akvavit, Lillet Blanc, grapefruit bitters, citrus peels, and tonic water. Described as a “bright, herbal, airy and light” cocktail, it was the kind of drink you’d imagine sipping on a warm summer night.
Before You Go To The Sovereign Cocktail Club
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- Directions to Stella’s Lounge’s secret room: If you enter from Commerce, turn right before you reach the bar. If you enter from the alley off of Ionia, go up the stairs, walk past the pinball machines and bar, then turn left. The door will be on your left.
- Stella’s Lounge is located at 53 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.
- Cocktails run about $9-11.
- A limited menu is available, but if you ask nicely, they might let you order from the full Stella’s Lounge menu.
- Though the Sovereign Cocktail Club isn’t advertised on the bar’s website, you can find the event information on Facebook. Become a fan of the Stella’s Lounge Facebook page for reminders or search “Sovereign Cocktail Club” to find the upcoming month’s event page.
If you could time travel, would you want to go to a 1920s speakeasy?