Loflin Yard pulls an eclectic set of folks that's hard to put a single finger on. It is not a high or a low type crowd, but refreshingly all over the place. There seems to be more of that now — the sort of thing that you used to never see in Memphis outside of a Grizzlies game. Just how they've pulled this off is a mystery to me, because it is south of South Main on Carolina Street, and since I don't live Downtown, I can never remember exactly where the hell it is. Right about the time I say to the wife, "Are you sure we're in the right place?" there it is — sitting on the corner like a block of concrete.
- Loflin Yard
Your first impression is of some hole in the wall, and I mean that in the most positive sense — there are not nearly enough respectable dives in this city. The concrete edifice is the Safe House, with a bar and some indoor dining space. Behind it, the place opens up, with plenty of outdoor seating. If you want more space, you can cross the bridge into the yard, which looks like an eccentric lawn party just waiting to happen. It's scattered with lawn chairs, fire pits, and even some hammocks, over on the side.
There will be dogs, but you can't order a basset hound with your sazarac, as interesting as that would be. It's strictly BYOD. For the record, Loflin Yard makes a good sazarac, which is hard to find these days, but so very important.
You'd think that this little oasis would be called the Back Yard, but it's called the Front Yard, and beyond it is another drinks-only bar. And if you pass through that space, you'll find the Back Yard, with a nice view of trains. I'm not entirely sure why it has to be quite so complicated, but it is pretty charming.
Loflin Yard's cocktail menu isn't extensive, but it is clever. It's includes: Bro, They've Got Pumpkin Spice; A German Synonym for a Party; and So Do Ya Want an Old Fashioned Er No. While I'm not sure what they were thinking with all that, they are thinking, so you have to give them credit. The ladies in front of me ordered a This Is The Vodka Drink. The name doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but the staff seems to know what they meant. I was told that the aforementioned — made of vodka, orange crema, cinnamon, Carmel lemon, and apple cider — was "to die for" and tasted like apple cider with a vodka wallop.
For those of us seeking a less ironic experience, there are a handful of wines — from the affordable to the less so — available by bottle and glass. There is also a solid selection of local go-to beers — Wiseacre's Tiny Bomb, Memphis Made's Fireside, and High Cotton's Scottish Ale — that fit nicely with the cooler weather.
The only drawback is the pricing — which isn't written down anywhere accessible and seems to depend somewhat on who you ask. This can be annoying to a skin-flint like myself because ordering is like playing dice with your debit card. Although at happy hour you can come up lucky.
Since the "Smoke House" is behind the "Safe House" and right there in the "Front Yard," the place smells like a backyard grill. Which sort of acts as its own appetizer and behavioral nudge, forcing you to lose any resistance to the brisket tacos and the house-smoked sausage and cheese plate.
The music is classic and eclectic at the same time, downshifting, for example, from The Beatles' "Happiness Is a Warm Gun" to Gary Wright's "Dream Weaver." In sum, it's a good place to have a drink.