Parlor, pitched as a pre-Prohibition cocktail lounge, opened in mid-November on Peters Street in Castleberry Hill. But unless you know to go to the side of the building and look for the pink door with the gold P, you might not find your way into its petite but plush confines.
Alphonzo Cross, who owns the property, conceived the concept with the help of a couple of Atlanta bar and restaurant veterans.
With a resume that includes stints at One Flew South, H. Harper Station, 4th & Swift, Seven Lamps, Restaurant Eugene, and the Consulate, beverage manager Mike Jones designed the drinks program.
Not surprisingly, the eight cocktails on the menu are built with pre-Prohibition-style ingredients, but given a contemporary twist. For example, Jones’ award-winning Cuvee du Merlet manages to be both boozy and smooth, mixed with Merlet V.S. Cognac, Merlet Trois Citrus, apple shrub, lemon, egg white, and aromatic bitters.
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Q Matissé Myers, most recently the executive chef at the Southern Gentleman, put together the small bites menu, which currently includes duck fat caramel or jalapeño cheddar popcorn, jalapeño smoked white cheddar dip, and olives and candied nuts. But Myers has plans to expand the offerings to include more substantial fare.
Certainly as important as the cocktails and the snacks, the small space creates an experience of its own, with collections of comfy couches and chairs fronted by coffee tables. And it’s purposely intimate in a way that recalls the history of the parlor as a well-furnished front room in a private home set aside to receive guests.
One recent afternoon, Cross and Myers sat down on one of the couches to talk about what Parlor is and is not. Please note: “It’s not a speakeasy.”
“It really is about providing a very intimate, quaint space where people are engaging with each other, very quickly and tightly, if you will,” Cross said. “What has organically happened is that a lot of strangers are meeting each other every single night in a way that we never imagined.
“I came up with the idea, and put the team together, with Q and Mike, almost a year and a half ago. And the three of us really wanted to stay with that theme of being pre-Prohibition, which is that all the cocktails and the food are inspired by recipes from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. But we’re not a theme bar, so we deviate whenever we need to.”
As for transforming just under 800 square feet into a cocktail bar, Cross admitted it was a challenge.
“The design work was done by Flags of Origin, owned by Josh Charles,” he said. “It’s a boutique design firm here in Atlanta. They came up with the whole concept visually. This was originally just four walls and a roof. But we wanted an air of theatricality with the project, and we accomplished that pretty well, I think. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill bar.”
Asked about the menu, Myers offered a glimpse of what might be on offer in the future.
“I picked things from tea parties, and during that time, there was a lot of game, so we’re definitely looking at things with rabbit, duck, smoked trout, charcuterie and cheeses, and pickled vegetables,” Myers said.
“With the cocktails, we really wanted to again stay true to this time period, when cocktails and spirits were very boozy, and very brown, so a lot of brandy, cognac, whiskey and rum,” Cross said.
“When guests come in, they usually get it and buy in really quickly. There’s no one doing what we’re doing in Atlanta. We are the smallest bar operating like this. And not only are we the smallest, we are the highest concept. We’re only 800 square feet, so in order to be successful, we do have to be really clear and really precise about what we’re doing.”
Scroll down to see more of what to expect at Parlor:
249 Peters St., Unit A, Atlanta. 404-487-6541, parlorden.com.