Slabtown’s amaro bar Solo Club, often seen as the unofficial “waiting room” for Besaw’s next door, has reopened under new ownership after two years closed. David Rodriguez, an alumnus of lauded cocktail bar Teardrop Lounge, created the bar program, shifting the focus away from amaro and toward balanced drinks with Latin American and Caribbean ingredients.
Much of Rodriguez’s approach to the menu relies on house syrups and cordials. For example, the Cosmopolitan swaps the cranberry juice for a house-made cranberry cordial, using whole cranberries, orange liqueur, and a spritz of orange blossom. By using the liqueur in lieu of a typical sweetener, Rodriguez reins in the saccharine nature of the cocktail, incorporating the floral notes of orange blossom. House ginger syrup appears in a number of drinks, including ‘El Diablo,’ a tequila highball — the syrup adds a hit of heat to play off the mellower note of black currant.
Rodriguez stocked the bar’s shelves with Latin American and Caribbean spirits, and many drinks incorporate fruit juices, giving the menu a tropical bent. For instance, bartenders spike a horchata-coffee cocktail with Haitian rum and aged tequila, and pair a rum and vermouth cocktail with a piña colada-esque blend of coconut and pineapple. Many drinks rely on spirits like rum, tequila, and mezcal; however, visitors will also spot things like a bourbon-ginger and an American Trilogy, as well as tiki drinks like a Jungle Bird.
Chef Romeo Lopez, who also runs the culinary program at Besaw’s, is handling the food at Solo Club; the menu leans heavily on tapas-like small plates, including things like fried calamari with chile aioli, spot prawns with adobo, boquerones, nachos, and patatas bravas. Some dishes are more in the vein of Basque pintxos, smaller, one-or-two-bite snacks like ham-and-cheese croquetas.
While Solo Club initially went for a suave, low-lit cocktail bar vibe, the new era of the bar is meant to feel a touch livelier. Rodriguez is also the man behind the bar’s soundtrack, blasting throwback ’90s and early 2000s tunes from Whitney Houston and Britney Spears. His hope is that people will feel comfortable getting up to dance, cocktail in hand.
Solo Club is open 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesdays through Sundays, with possible extension Fridays and Saturdays. In the future, Mondays and Tuesdays will be open to the public for special events such as live music and local artist exhibits. Solo Club is located at 2110 NW Raleigh Street.