Bar to Bar Through Beantown
“The converted church serves nicely as a restaurant with high ceilings and pillars.”
Neighborhood: Salem, Massachusetts
Address: 231 Essex Street
Date of Visit: Thursday, September 15, 2011
Server Name: Unknown 😦
We take a break from our usual Boston haunts (pun intended) for this special post from Salem, MA. We went up to Salem to partake in a Witches guided walking tour courtesy of a Groupon that Valerie’s mom bought. Little did we know that we would be indulging in libations at one of the stops on the tour! Rockafellas was the first stop on the tour (drinks came post-walking tour) and apparently used to be a church. Rumor has it that the tunnels under the city of Salem run under the establishment, and a long long time ago, a woman was left for dead in the tunnel after she was accidentally shot. The men who shot her confessed their sin to the priest of the church, who, years later burdened with the guilt of the knowledge of the murder, hung himself in the top floor of the church, leaving a note detailing the crime. According to townsfolk, the priest is often seen haunting the second floor of the restaurant – typically through the windows that face Essex street.
Anyway, we did not have any ghost sightings while we were there (but did check out the vault – see below). The converted church serves nicely as a restaurant with high ceilings and pillars. When we were there the live music was a bit….much (think crazy techno), but it’s great that they have live performances! On a Thursday night it wasn’t very busy, and was a bit of a mixed bag in terms of crowd – there were some young professionals hovering by the bar, a few seated tables, and then a good mix of middle-aged people “dancing” to the music. Rockafellas also has a fairly large patio which would probably be great during the warmer months. The only downside was that there were a good number of smokers on the patio, which led to the restaurant kind of smelling a bit like smoke. Also, we were in love with the drink prices and forgot what prices were like outside of the city – Eric got a huge drink and a take-home glass for nine dollars!
Valerie’s Drink of Choice: Lady in the Blue Dress
Ingredients: Captain Morgan, Bacardi Coco, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice
Review: I was surprised when my Lady in the Blue Dress came out looking somewhat green-ish. My guess is that it’s because of the darker spiced rum (yay Captain Morgan’s!) Despite the color confusion, it was fairly good tasting. I wasn’t overly wowed, but it was tasty. The drink reminded me a lot of a traditional Blue Hawaii, which is made with light rum, vodka, blue curacao and sweet & sour mix. I think this is due to the Bacardi Coco, which gave it a bit of a tropical flair – obviously the spiced rum gave the drink it’s own distinct flavor. Definitely a middle of the road drink.
Eric’s Drink of Choice: Screaming Vault
Ingredients: Bacardi Light & Dark rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, grenadine
Cost: $9.00 (includes free glass!)
Review: For whatever reason, this beverage reminded young Eric of a Mai-Tai, which sometimes brings back interested memories of the early days of Valerie and Eric’s relationships (thanks, David!). This drink would truly make you scream if you drank it too fast, as the acid from the juices pair well (but strongly) with the rums. This was easily the most attractive drink on the menu to Eric, and he quickly decided that he would order the Screaming Vault (perhaps it’s because the Witches’ Tour Guide recommended it), nonetheless, he found the drink merely average. This “name brand” (for lack of a better term) beverage could easily be found by more common names at Chinese restaurants across the state at better prices, alas, there would be extra space in our cabinets had we gone elsewhere!
Wine Prices: Nine whites and nine reds for $6 to $9 per glass, $22 to $34 per bottle. Two sparking wines at either $28 or $40 a bottle. Sangria also available(both red and white) for $7. There’s also a “Wine Flight Sampler,” which is $8 and includes 2 oz. servings of three different wines.
Beer Prices: Eleven drafts for $4.25 each – Guinness draft for$5 and Bud Light draft for $3.75 too. The drafts are all 16 oz. but you can upgrade to 22 oz. for an additional $2. Seventeen bottles available for either $3.75, $4.75, or $5, including Smirnoff Ice and Woodchuck. Rockafellas also has a beer sampler – you can get 4 oz. of four different draft beers for $6.
Other: Rockafellas has eight specialty drinks from $7-9. Including the two above, they offer the Salem Witch Martini, a Firefly Arnold Palmer, margaritas and mojitos. They also have eight martinis, ranging from $8 to $10 each, such as the Snickers Martini (Valerie almost ordered this one) and the Razberi Cosmopolitan. Finally, Rockafellas offers the Helltini for $20, which consists of vodka, fire water schnapps, ginger ale, Jagermeister, and their “secret hell water.” You have to sign a waiver to drink this one, but if you finish it you get a Helltini t-shirt!
Rockafellas boasts a private dining space in the old vault (see picture below) which, according to our Witch Walk tour guide, can be rented out for dinner for two.