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.”
Original article: Ben Crandell, SouthFlorida.com