5:15pm: A bored–looking hipster guy sitting on a railing at the top of the stairs checks our IDs.
5:16pm: He cracks a joke about my boyfriend Evan’s long, curly hair in his ID picture. I explain that I made him cut it. I make this joke every time we go into a bar together.
5:17pm: Bored–looking hipster guy takes us downstairs and tells us to sit wherever. There are a number of deep red leather ottomans at marble–topped tables for two. We opt to sit at the bar so we can talk to the bartender while he makes our drinks.
5:20pm: After awkwardly asking if I can use flash to take pictures in the dimly–lit room, we ask the bartender, Adam, for recommendations. He chooses the “Secretarial Poodle Punch” for me and the “…With a Baseball Bat” for Evan—all cocktails are $15.
5:23pm: He’s shaking the cocktail shaker above his head with one hand and stirring a drink with the other. Very impressive, I can barely pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time.
5:30pm: Evan’s drink has peanut butter–infused bourbon, and we are loving it. We start thinking about sommeliers who describe wine tastes by saying things like “tennis ball” or “freshly cut hose.”
5:32pm: “Cotton candy… or peanut butter,” says Evan. We would be terrible sommeliers.
5:33pm: My drink has peppermint and raspberry in it. I worry that this will be a toothpaste–and–orange–juice situation, but it totally works here. The minty flavor kind of hovers over the fruitiness.
5:41pm: Realize I’ve been writing notes for five minutes straight. “Never go on a date with a journalist on duty,” says Evan.
5:55pm: The bar is about half full now. Mostly businessmen and women, so this must be a good choice for after–work drinks.
6:15pm: I order the “When Life Hands You…,” and Adam does something weird involving a match and a lemon rind that I don’t quite understand. He claims heating it adds an aromatic quality. I think it looks like he’s sacrificing a lemon rind to the gods.
6:20pm: My drink tastes like a lemon creamsicle and smells like graham cracker and citrus. Adam lets me try the graham cracker liqueur that they made in–house, and I want to take it home with me.
6:23pm: Evan has the “Cripple Creek Swizzle,” which was refreshingly sweet but doesn’t blow him away.
6:30pm: I wrote down, “Sneeze three times; allergic to bullshit.” Evidently I was drunk by 6:30pm. I’m sure Evan was fine. Don’t actually remember experiencing any bullshit.
6:35pm: Decide we should each have three drinks total. I can only drink half of each of mine, but Evan has finished all of his because he is a bo$$.
6:40pm: Evan chooses The Italian Market because it has long hot pepper in it. “Woah,” he says, “it’s like bourbon, then sweet, then spice.”
6:43pm: Adam chooses “The Labyrinth” for me. Its scent reminds me oddly of a nail salon, and it tastes like a smokey margarita. My face is a little numb at this point, so I don’t remember how I felt about this one.
6:58pm: The sun just set, it’s Yom Kippur and I am officially a bad Jew.
6:59pm: Ask for the check. We seriously need food.
Location: 112 S 18th Street, downstairs
TL;DR: Check out Franklin Mortgage and Investment Co., a speakeasy–type place that doesn’t actually call itself a speakeasy, if you’re looking to feel in–the–know while sipping on fancy, home–made drinks that you can’t get anywhere else.
Don’t miss: Sitting at the bar. Franklin Mortgage uses a lot of homemade liqueurs that are fun and interesting to hear about… and taste.
Skip: A few nights at Smokes’ to be able to afford these pricey concoctions.
When to go: Anytime after 5pm, but the wait time can get long later at night
Price Range: $$$ ($15 per cocktail)
DIY: Fat washing, the technique of adding flavor to your spirit, can totally be done from home! Add a melted down version of your chosen flavor to the alcohol, let it sit for a few hours and then chill the combination in the fridge until the fat solidifies and can be skimmed off. (Ed. note: Our bartender Adam used melted peanut butter, but he also recommended bacon fat. I’ve heard it works with a grilled cheese sandwich too.) Even after straining the liquid, the spirit will retain the flavor of the fat you chose.