Okay, on East Andrews in 2009, it's schticky. The fireplace is electric, there's a flat-screen above the bar that's likely to be tuned to a basketball game, and UK-style phone booths, while not entirely exotic in the Brit-pub–loving Atlanta metro area, are not even vaguely inconspicuous. But honestly, it's no more artificial an atmosphere than any of the other bars in Buckhead or Midtown sport, and the quality of the cocktails is worth the kitsch.
Before I tell you more, full disclosure: A dear friend of mine, Darrell Autrey (seen here in full-speed-mixing mode), was hired on as one of Prohibition's bartenders, so A) I'm probably biased, and B) I went on the very first night that the place saw customers, so the staff was still gaining their pub-legs. A few things could've gone better, but the drinks were spot-on.
Among the five people in my party (which I mention as so to look less like a complete lush), we sampled their:
- Ramos Fizz, which is their take on a silver gin fizz: A light, creamy, refreshing gin & lemon juice & egg white cocktail made with an additional hit of tart raspberry liquor. Don't be afraid of the egg, or the gin. This drink has converted everyone who's tried it on both accounts.
- Fancy Tequila Cocktail: Made with Lunazul tequila and fresh-squeezed citrus juices, this, out of everything we tried, was the drink that made me grin involuntarily upon tasting. It's everything good and pure about margaritas.
- Aviation: Gin + maraschino liquor + lemon juice + crème de violette = a juicy SweetTart. Try this if you'd usually order a Cosmo.
- Dark & Stormy: They make this popular rum & ginger drink with a kick-yo-mamma-strength ginger beer, rum that adds just enough sweetness, and a squeeze of lime. It's simultaneously spicy & soothing.
- A new thing that is possibly being called a Ten-Penny Piece: Drambuie, gin, a twist of lemon, and a bit of orange peel that's briefly introduced to fire on its way to your glass. Refreshing, herbal, and slightly sweet, this drink is everything I love about the retro craft-cocktail trend: it's yummy art.
- Tom Collins, with muddled mint: The addition of mint makes this version taste even less like alcohol than usual. Like dangerous soda pop.
- Mount Zoom: Aviation gin, cream, honey, and a dusting of nutmeg, which all together taste like a bright, snowy Christmas day. (No really.)
- A Cooley Sinister Proposal: amaretto and orange peel tempered by slightly bitter Cynar (artichoke & herb liquor), forming a sweet-but-not-too-sweet nightcap of a cocktail.
The food showed promise but a less complete delivery. Three sample dishes were being passed around:
- Lamb chops on the bone over a mushroom risotto: The heaviest of the three, and the most in need of work. The lamb, while perfectly (i.e., rarely) cooked was a bit greasy, and the risotto was salty and somewhat crunchy. With slight tweaking, it'll be every bit as warm and stick-to-your-ribs as it's intended.
- Thin slices of smoked duck breast piled against a salad of arugula and roasted corn with a creamy dressing (blue cheese, I think): The lightest and most balanced dish. The smoke treatment took most of the gaminess out of the duck and left it wonderfully tender, and the salad's play of sharp, bitter greens against sweet corn and mellow dairy simply worked.
- Crisped prosciutto wrapped around melty cheese (mozzarella, maybe), plated with a yellow heirloom tomato salad: This dish was the most craveable. Though a few of the tomato slices I got were mealy, most were good and bright-flavored. Dressed casually with a sprinkle of fresh herbs and perhaps a tiny bit of vinegar, they melded with the oil from the prosciutto on the plate. And the crispy prosciutto/cheese rolls were pornographically delicious, a combination of salty, crispy, fatty, and chewy that makes for the perfect indulgent drankin' snack.
They have an extensive cigar list that I can't speak to because I don't smoke -- if anyone who's been has any comments about it, let us (my readers & I, not the royal we) know!
The atmosphere was thematic and cozy, mostly. The music was jazzy and at that elusive audible-but-nonintrusive volume. The lighting was moody but not too dim to read the wood-bound, clear & cleverly written menus. The chairs at the bar were wide and comfortable, if a little low-sitting. My only gripe concerns that flat-screen TV over the bar -- it's distracting and (I am seriously saying this about a pub) anachronistic at best, and tacky at worst. I understand that sports are important to people, but it injures my delicate aesthetic sensibilities to see a classily-over-the-top theme smashed by such a direct reminder that it's all just play-pretend.
Overall, Prohibition isn't a place I'm going to call home -- like most of Buckhead, it's a wee bit outside of my nerd/hipster comfort zone and price range, and I'm sorta-definitely That
If you want in, I'd keep an eye on their website and Facebook page (dudes, I know). Or drop me a note, and I'll see what I can do.