Bar to Bar Through Beantown
“Storyville has a unique concept that seems to aim at replicating trendy European or New York-style clubs.”
Neighborhood: Back Bay
Address: 90 Exeter Street
Date of Visit: Saturday, December 17, 2011
Bartender Name: Tiffany
Storyville has a unique concept that seems to aim at replicating trendy European or New York-style clubs. After waiting in line at the door (for about 10 minutes, but there was no cover) and skipping the coat check ($2 a coat), we headed over towards the bar to meet a group that was gathered (once again) for Burns’ birthday. It was hard to figure out who was who, as Storyville saves big on their electric by dimming the lights to an almost obnoxious low, using red highlights that would be great for a darkroom…hence the extremely poor image quality – sorry! Their website describes the establishment as “an exciting one-of-a-kind environment where Speakeasy meets Nightclub” but we found it to be much farther on the nightclub spectrum than they were likely trying for – with scantily clad women, pounding music, and patrons being brushed up against or occasionally shoved every 3.2 seconds as people milled about and tried to get to the bar to order.
There were plenty of people enjoying bottle service at a few tables adjacent to the bar, but the confused space isn’t quite big enough to be referred to as a “club” while also falling short as a lounge due to the complete lack of intimacy and the patrons inability to have a conversation because of the loud music. The half-moon booths/tables had bottles of Belvedere vodka on them, locked up and lit from underneath, that the waitresses for the table had to come by, open, and pour with the selection of mixers that comes with the table (it appeared as though you had to buy a bottle to get the table, much like in European bars). The table behind us went through two bottles of vodka and two bottles of champagne in the hour that we were there.
The menu here is pretty eccentric, which was somewhat surprising given the concept they’re going for. I would have imagined a focus on bottle service and simple mixed drinks, which probably would have saved the bartenders some trouble and confusion. The bartender helping us must have been pretty overwhelmed, as she managed to allow another person to charge almost $50 to my tab in a span of 25 minutes and also clearly mixed two different brands of champagne in order to serve an unlucky customer her drink. Fortunately, we were able to work out the tab thing and the champagne was still consumed.
Valerie’s Drink of Choice: Spiced Apple
Ingredients: A collection of fall spices infused into apple cider and brown sugar cordial. Choice of rum, vodka, brandy or tequila.
Review: I want to start off this review by stating that I am usually easy to please when it comes to cocktails. In the past 41 reviews we have completed, there has only been one drink that I have only given one cheers to, and that was the Zinger at Parish Cafe. That record will not change, however, I have been forced after my experience at Storyville to give a drink zero stars. The Spiced Apple, which I ordered with rum, was hands down the worst drink I have had in my life. I tried to like it, I really did, but I was left only being able to take a few sips before I put it back down on the bar. Even Eric wouldn’t drink it. I would have asked for something else, but the service was so atrocious I didn’t think it would get me anywhere to try. The Spiced Apple tasted like rotten apple juice thrown about in a shaker with a mix of cayenne pepper and curry powder, which let me tell you, is not appetizing. My mouth was on fire and the taste was miserable. I would not recommend this to anyone.
Eric’s Drink of Choice: Dizzy Berry
Ingredients: Fresh crushed local and exotic berries. Shaken and served up. Choice of Brandy, Gin, Light Rum or Vodka.
Review: I chose to enjoy vodka in my Dizzy Berry, and was surprised that a club like this would allow customers to order such complicated cocktails at such a busy time (the bartenders must hate it). Overall, I could tell the vodka was there but I wasn’t overwhelmed by it, and the cocktail tasted more like a fruit smoothie than the mojito-type cocktail I was expecting. The texture was interesting and nice, but still, I was hoping for more of a lounge type cocktail as opposed to something I could get from the smoothie bar at the gym. Next time, I’ll head to one of the nearby bars for a martini that’s actually worth $11.
Wine Prices: Only wines by the glass were listed on the menu. Three reds and three whites offered for $8 to $12 a glass. Champagne also offered by the glass and bottle at $9-18 a glass and starting at $11o for a bottle of Moet & Chandon Imperial (which you can get three blocks away at Huntington Liquors for $35) up to an $850 magnum of Louis Roederer, Cristal.
Beer Prices: Bottled beer only – thirteen varieties available from $5 to $7 each.
Other: The menu we were presented at Storyville did not much resemble their menu available online here, although Valerie wishes it had as she would have easily found something else to order. Along with our two drink above, there were two other cocktails on the menu presented to us, the English Garden, and a Cafe Mole, both of which were $11. According to the online menu, they also offer a series of Fizze drinks, most of which are made with egg whites, including a Yelp favorite, the Pineapple Fizze, all of which are $12 each. Ten other cocktails offered for $11 and $12 each.