As the former home of the Lusty Lady strip club is transformed into a boutique hotel, its basement will morph into one of the most promising new cocktail bars I’ve heard of in quite a while.
Erik Hakkinen will turn this hidden-away space into the Pink Lady, a haven of “lighter, more ephemeral spirits” like eau de vie, pisco, gin, tequila, and even mescal—lots of grape- and agave-based bottles. “It will have the vibe of a special occasion place,” says Hakkinen. Though I’d argue any time you sit down in front of the former Zig Zag barman, it feels like a special occasion.
Hakkinen spent a decade at one of the town’s most storied cocktail bars. He’s too understated to be a Big Name in Bartending, but anyone’s who’s ordered a drink from him can attest that Hakkinen’s ferociously good at what he does—both the drink-making and the hospitality aspects. So it’s kind of fitting that his bar will have an out-of-the-way feel (just please, oh please don't use the word "speakeasy"); there will be an entrance in Post Alley, and access from the hotel above.
The Pink Lady’s proprietor describes the room’s shape as “like a Tetris L,” with maybe 60 seats, including 16 at the bar. A “very, very selectively cured spirits list” will drive some nuanced cocktails. There will be a few snacks—olives, maybe, perhaps oysters—but drinks will flow until 2am.
The room will have a feminine vibe (Hakkinen terms it “pretty, without being too ornamental”) to honor a building whose famous pink marquee used to tout its fleshy wares with puns like “APRIL SHOW-HERS” or “WHERE EVERY MISS IS A HIT.” The structure, officially known as the Seven Seas Building, will get new life as a 40-ish room hotel later this year.
Okay, so it’s a bit early to talk about a bar that’s slated to open (fingers crossed) by the end of 2018. And the restaurant up on the lobby level—the handiwork of a well-known chef whose name hasn’t yet gone public—will be the much splashier destination on the property. No matter: I plan to spend the next 12-ish months quietly excited at the prospect of a semi-secret place to have a legit drink downtown.