Memphis has welcomed a handful of new spots to the Downtown area in recent weeks, and I took it upon myself to find the one with the dimmest light and richest jams.
The basement bar of 3rd & Court, known simply as The Lounge, opened a couple of weeks ago but held its official grand opening on November 7th. They were kind enough to invite some of us Memphis Flyer folks, marking my first time being on a list since dating guitarists.
The Lounge was formerly home to Memphis Sounds before that bar moved to Mud Island. Those who went to Memphis Sounds will remember it as dark, smoky, and echoing with great tunes. Ryan Trimm, who opened The Lounge, hasn't changed much besides nixing the smoking. The carpet is new, the paint is fresh, but Memphis sounds, if not Memphis Sounds, still reign supreme in this underground space.
- Justin Fox Burks
- Craft cocktails — just don’t gouge your eye out with a cinnamon stick.
Like all of Trimm's places, there is booze to be had! The shelves are full of whiskeys and Scotches, and while the bar leans on mixology, it's not dependent upon it. For as many craft cocktails as they offer, there were plenty of folks ordering whiskey neat.
We tried three cocktails: the Esperanza, the Hi Fi Manhattan, and the Crosseyed and Painless, each $10. The Esperanza is made from gin, lemon, ginger beer, demerara, and fresh mint. The Hi Fi is rye whiskey and Punt e Mes. The Crosseyed, made with Jamaican rum and allspice dram, was a hit with everyone.
What caught my eye was the Grapefruit Collins, made with — get this — Squirt. You know Squirt! It's the old-school citrus soda that your grandmother used to keep in the garage refrigerator. Bartender Nick Lumpkin says he's not only a fan of it, but an admirer of it as a mixer. For you Squirters (snort laugh), Lumpkin says it's available at the Kroger on Union.
As earlier reported, Trimm wanted a live DJ spinning vinyl in the space. The DJ booth is an extension of the bar, and DJ Capital A was on deck for the opening. I underestimated how much I'd enjoy seeing and hearing an actual DJ as opposed to listening to whatever lame-o playlist someone put together.
A couple hours after opening the doors, The MD's took the stage. Lumpkin mentioned that they'd be hosting more local acts onstage but that they wouldn't rule out the possibility of an out-of-town act in the future.
The dark atmosphere is, in a word, ideal. It was dark in a warm sense; people bustled around everywhere, and I felt cozy and anonymous (which was great, since I nearly gouged myself with the cinnamon stick in my drink, and no one bore witness to my humiliation). It was like if Alex's Tavern was wearing a bowtie, and no drunk assholes had access to the jukebox.
The Lounge has table service as well as bar service, but the bar was the popular option for the opening night crowd. It's open from 5:30 p.m. until 1 a.m. on Thursday through Sunday, making it a bitchin' post-work happy hour spot for later in the week.
Check your cares at the door, friends, because halfway through the evening, the fire alarm went off and not a soul stood up to leave the bar. What's a fire when you've got drinks in front of you?
As the grand opening party raged on, more people poured downstairs to check out the spot. I'll by no means be the only person to write about The Lounge, as by the time I left, I was one of several columnists on hand for the festivities. But I'll say, as many others likely will, it's a cool place. The Memphis music, the darkness, the sway of the crowd, and the drinks all work wonderfully together in a way only a Memphis lounge can do, and this time without your drunk friend at the jukebox.
Visit The Lounge, downstairs in the 3rd & Court Diner at Hotel Indigo, 24 N. B.B. King.