Check Out at the Hotel Clermont’s Bars
The newly re-opened hotel is a stylish spot to throw back a few
You may not be checking into the stylishly revamped Hotel Clermont if you’re a local, but there’s no reason why you can’t mentally check out there for a bit. The iconic Clermont Lounge in the basement still offers its gritty ambiance for those looking to get lost in a smoke-filled haze. Upstairs, though, the hotel has two polished watering holes that will invite you to play tourist for the day or (night).
The brains behind the drink programs at both the lobby and rooftop bars is beverage manager Jordan Moore. She joined the Indigo Road team in 2015 and moved to Atlanta to launch the hotel’s cocktail programs. Of the main differences between the two bars’ drink programs she says, “The rooftop is built for speed. So a lot of batching, and not a lot of shaking. The lobby is a little bit more serious, more crafty, and more of a focus on technique.”
Tiny Lou’s doesn’t have a bar to belly up to and shares the same cocktail menu as the lobby bar. From the atmosphere to the drinks, we break down what to expect at both.
The Lobby Bar
Hidden in the back of the hotel, the lobby bar throws off sexy ‘70s vibes. The blue Moroccan tile backsplash and brass accents set a retro mood. Denoted as a bourbon-centric bar, Moore explains that it’s actually more of a whiskey and cognac bar. “We’re trying to bring, just like [executive chef Jeb Aldrich’s] food, the south and France together. So we’re still curating.”
Of the seven cocktails offered, the Depth Perception shines. A combination of rhum agricole blanc, lemon juice, ginger root syrup, yellow chartreuse and tiki bitters, the bartender sold me on it when he said it reminds him of the beach. One sip and I agreed: rhum agricole, made from sugar cane, is slightly salty on the palate and tiki bitters evoke tropical feelings. Those who come seeking whiskey will like the Twigg & Carries with Old Overholt rye whiskey, mesquite tea, lemon juice, maple syrup and barrel-aged bitters.
As “serious” as the lobby bar may be it doesn’t shy away from fun. Besides cocktails, wine and beer Moore has also curated a shot service for groups. For $45 you can order shots like The Money Shot made with Old Fourth vodka, Lawn Dart, lemon juice, and ginger root syrup or the Hot Cler with cinnamon-infused tequila and orange juice. “Large format cocktails have enjoyed a lot of popularity lately but they can be kind of tricky. A group of people may not want the same drink and so committing to one cocktail as a group isn’t something that everyone wants to do,” she says. Instead, the shots allow a quick hit of fun at a reasonable price. As an added bonus the shots are presented with flair in quirky vintage decanters — like a porcelain dog with a spout as a nose.
Adjacent to the bar is a funky seating area with floral wallpaper and heavy drapery. If you come with a group this is the place to sit, especially if you want more privacy (the drapes serve as dividers between seating areas).
A bar menu offers bites from Tiny Lou’s. The veggie crudité platter takes something that’s otherwise boring and presents it with gusto by sticking them vertically in a bucket of ice. Alongside a house-made crème fraîche it’s a delightfully light appetizer. On the heavier side there’s poutine made with fries and gravy.
The rooftop is a carefree counterpoint to the Mad Men-esque lobby bar. Astroturf is dotted with wrought iron tables in a variety of colors along with lounge chairs that leave you wishing for a pool. Undeniably, the main draw is the skyline views which are pretty stellar, too. Access to the rooftop is first come first served and it’s been, unsurprisingly, quite busy since opening.
The drink menu reflects the bar’s laidback attitude. “Up there, it’s a little more juicy. A little lighter, more refreshing,” says Moore. The Hawaii Five-Oh is reminiscent of a spring break cocktail (only better) with Don Q coconut rum, orange, lime, pineapple, and mezcal. It’s sweet, but not cloying, and the mezcal’s smokiness balances it out. It’s even served in a plastic coconut cup. Another hit is the G & Tiki. A tribute to the timeless gin and tonic, the tipple is made with gin, orgeat, tonic syrup, lime, and mint. The bar isn’t without its misses though. The Warm Regards made with tequila, Domaine de Canton (a ginger liqueur), lemon, lime and orange citrate tastes like a standard margarita. If you get hungry, a food cart serves up street food (think hot dogs and hamburgers).
One of the coolest features of the rooftop bar is the restored Hotel Clermont radio tower. The tower dates back to the 1920s and is an impressive sight to behold when the red neon lights flicker on.
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