It had been dark for about an hour by the time we arrived. We sat in the car, double-checking the maps on our phones for about five minutes. We were taken to the parking lot of a diner that we already frequented, though having only lived in the Jackson area for about two months.
We came to this part of town all the time— how have we not seen this place everybody was raving about?
No visual clues, anywhere. I mean yes, it was a traditional speak easy, so that made sense…but still. We almost felt that we had been had by someone, in a “let’s pick on the new guys” sort of way.
We finally walked up to a slim fellow with dreads, smoking a cigarette on a bench near the diner’s door. “Apothecary?”, we asked. He took the cigarette out of his mouth, and with the same two fingers, pointed to the back of the store, and said, “All the way in the back.”
For a diner that was normally so lively and loud when open, it seemed rather eerie in the dark silence now as we walked through it, towards a door that I had previously assumed to be a broom closet. Now, it was open, and a huge, velvet curtain took its place in hiding what was behind. I want to be clear in my writing— the things I am about to say might seem too perfect to be true. The details, too romantic. I promise you, I am repeating verbatim my first experience at this favorite place of mine.
As we walked up to the curtain, a beautiful young hostess stopped her reading, and greeted us with a very soothing and welcoming voice. We told her we didn’t have reservations, so she placed her book face-down on the table top, a copy of Catcher in the Rye, and pulled the curtain toward her, motioning us inside. I remember being taken aback by the beauty of the dark velvet curtain as we moved past it, towards our booth on the left wall of the small room.
The lighting was dim— only tea candles on the tables, and low lit lamps protruding from the walls about half way up. It was nice, and exactly how I was hoping the atmosphere would feel. I had only been to one other hidden speak easy in my life, a club in Barcelona, Spain, and it set quite the standard for my future expectations. A standard that was met, though it was quite different.
The diner that it hid within had been around since 1946 as a drug store and soda fountain— and this was the apothecary room. They kept the original cabinetry and bar, making the perfect space for mixing craft cocktails and shooting the breeze with regulars. My eyes were all around the room for the remainder of the evening, bouncing from one couple to the next, all enjoying their libations and the relaxation that came with stepping back in time. The drinks were themed and intricately pieced together in recipes that made my tastebuds’ heart flitter, and it became very obvious to me that I was in good hands. Not only skilled, but artistic hands.
Christian and I felt like locals for the first time that night; we had officially stepped out of the world of being strangers or foreigners, by stepping behind that curtain.