The bar: Hullabaloo, West Palm Beach.
The scene: You know a restaurant takes its cocktails seriously when its design centers around a long bar that encourages lingering.
Backed by retro-style dark red-and black banquettes, white-painted brick, and touches of reclaimed wood, the atmosphere is only improved with one of the most interesting mixes of customers you’ll find on Clematis Street.
Here, a casually-dressed all-ages downtown professional crowd mixes with creative class workers and intrepid adventurers from across the Intracoastal.
When I recently visited with English friends, they offered their highest praise: “This feels like a pub back home.”
All that, and it’s on the west end of Clematis, where owner Rodney Mayo has established a beachhead of locally-flavored spots including LongBoards next door and the area’s grandaddy of live music venues, Respectable Street.
If it ever stops raining, don’t miss the back patio, shared with LongBoards, where you can sit under the stars or camp out for the evening in a renovated Airstream trailer.
The drink: You’ve got to love a place whose dark wit includes naming cocktails after dead rock stars — the Cobain, the Joplin, the Lennon — where patrons can also drink in classic portraits of the dearly departed.
In other words, you can sip an almond milk-laced Sid Vicious under a photo of the Sex Pistols’ “Sycho Sid.”
Bar manager, Brett Hart, has no truck with the usual bar ingredients. Simple syrup is banned in favor of herbal and fruit infusions and small-batch artisanal liqueurs. Any mixes used are made in-house.
Hart brought us a Michael Jackson ($12) from his new cocktail menu, that managed to be a not-so-sweet hit with unexpected depth and a dash of bitters, a bit like MJ himself.
Bar bites: Carnivores will rejoice in beef carpaccio ($12) that melts like butter on the tongue, tarted up with a bite of rustic mustard sauce. An appetizer of fried green tomatoes with house-cured crispy pork belly topped with an unctuous remoulade sauce ($14) makes a filling, savory counterpart to one of Hart’s concoctions.
The deal: Half off all drinks during the 4 to 7 p.m. daily Happy Hour; Thursday nights, dinner and half off a bottle of wine as well as reverse Happy Hour from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Info: Hullabaloo, 517 Clematis Street, West Palm Beach; 561-833-1033; sub-culture.org
C O C K T A I L
The Michael Jackson
2 ounces Enlightened Grains rosemary and lavendar-infused vodka
2 to 3 dashes of Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole bitters
1 dash agave nectar
A splash of sweet and sour mix.
Garnish with lavendar sprig
In a shaker, thoroughly muddle watermelon cubes and lemon. Add remaining ingredients and serve over ice.