The Secret Mermaid
The buzz: A casual Japanese eatery (named Shinkansen) by day and a watering hole and liquor retail store by night, this hidden hangout specializes in rare, small-batch, handcrafted spirits—specifically gin, rum, tequila, vodka and whiskey.
The décor: It’s all pretty hush-hush—only a non-descript, industrial sliding door and a little signage greets you at the front. Inside, there’s just one main bar counter (which seats about six to eight people) and a few bar stools on the other side. Space feels a little tight, but the charming library-like shelves filled with an impressive collection of over 45 spirits bottles certainly compensated for that.
The drinks: A busy list for a small bar. For cocktails, there are classics like the Spiced Blueberry Mojito ($20), Salted Caramel Old Fashioned ($20), or the Sangria Sour ($20), the bar’s current hotseller. Tasting flights should do well for the undecided, in which you can sample three spirits (15ml each, from $15 a set or $24 for a customized flight). The bar also feature a different distillery every month, offering a small number of mixes created with the selected spirit. This month, it’s Moonshine and Lewis Redmond. We’re told that they’ll be bringing in brand new spirits soon, including labels like Bully Boy and Owney’s.
The food: Nothing mind-blowingly good, with just about eight, somewhat safe options including a very clean-tasting deep fried strips of pork belly ($10), dainty little tater tots drizzled with parmesan cheese ($5) and our favorite of the lot, devilled eggs with wasabi topped with nori strips ($9).
The music: Mostly old school hip hop, with some jazz and soul thrown in for good measure.
The crowd: Plenty of PMEBs, duh.
Why you’ll be back: It’s a cool spot for solid post-work drinks, rare spirits to purchase by the bottle, and there’s always something new, like seasonal creations and more liquor labels, to look forward.
The Secret Mermaid is in I-S Best Bars Guide 2014. Download your copy to see where else you should be partying.