THE COOL SECRET
NAME: America’s coolest secret bar
PLACE: Quintana’s speakeasy
DATE: September 1st, 2017
WHAT: Prohibition style drinks and cutting-edge cocktails
ADDRESS: 2200 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, OH 44118
BARTENDER: Kevin Patrick
WHAT TO DRINK:
Sage Smoked Whiskey
Whatever Kevin feels like pouring
Secret bars and clubs are not a new thing, they date back to prohibition when alcohol was illegal and they were hiding from the law. Today the concept of a secret bar is enjoying a revitalization, but as a gimmick or to add excitement for the customer, not necessarily to avoid the law. This poses a question, what constitutes a secret bar today? They are hidden from plain view or inside of another establishment, don’t have any outwardly noticeable signs, they don’t advertise, and usually contain a secret entrance or password to get in.
Recently I may have stumbled across the coolest secret bar in Ohio, possibly one of the top the country. It’s located in Cleveland Heights, concealed in the second story of an old-world barber shop. From the outside, this is nothing more than a place to get your haircut, but walk in the back door, past the men getting a cut or a straight razor shave (if it’s still during operation hours), and up the wood staircase. You find yourself in a small hallway with two locked doors, a bathroom, and an old bookcase. Upon further exploration, you find a book that opens and contains a single secret button labeled “EXIT”. Press it, and the book case swings open acting as the passage into the coolest bar in Cleveland.
The hidden room is decorated with dark wood, old pictures, and a small vintage bar in the corner. A single bar keep is working the room from behind it. The area is tiny, and if you want a little privacy look to the small tables and seats around the corner. However, I mentioned that this could possibly be one of the coolest secret bar in the country, and that is because of the show quietly going on behind the bar. Do you want the full experience? Then fight for one of the four stools that line the work area. It’s here that the bartender Kevin is performing as one of the most creative mixologist’s I have seen. With quiet showmanship, he is pushing the envelope on what a bar drink can be. Like every other speakeasy in the country Quintana’s has the prohibition gin drinks of the 30’s, but give him free reign to make something off the menu, then enjoy as you see him use crazy tools that feel like they belong more in a chemistry lab than a bar. Tools like a blow torch, a small glass chamber smoker, old world shakers, a canvas whiskey bag, and a hammer. Then there are the creative garnishes, hand crushed ice cubes, fresh squeezed lemon juice, beet juice, vegetables, fresh hot peppers, herbs from the garden, giant ass ice cubes, and much more.
Watch as he builds each drink like he has a blueprint for it laid out in front of him. Daftly grabbing the liquor, the mixers, and the garnishes. Filling a cloth bag with large ice cubes, before he produces a hammer breaking it in to rough pieces. He works the foam, smokes sage to ward off evil spirits and add deep smoky flavor to whiskey, turning each drink into a work of art and a science project rolled into one. Finishing them with a fresh garnish, or a pass of the blowtorch over a fragrant herb. When he passes the glass over to you, and you have no clue if you should even drink it? I mean you saw the work that went into it, but it looks amazing.
The Quintana’s speakeasy may be new, small, and relatively still a secret, but I don’t see this place being easy to get into for long even if you know about the hidden entrance. If I lived in Cleveland this would be a monthly stop for a specialty drink and a show and to see what new concoctions Kevin has for me.
The Pig is formally trained in the culinary arts, a graduate of the C.I.A., worked in the food industry for over 40 years and currently travels the country as a research chef searching food trucks, street vendors, little restaurants and hole in the walls, seeking out the best this country has to offer. For more great articles, culinary travel guides, and tips on travel and cooking follow us to our website. .