By Ashley Strehle Hartman / World-Herald correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, August 23, 2018
Where: 824 P. Street, Suite 300, Lincoln
Hours: 5 p.m. to 1 p.m. daily
Info: 402-261-4608 or www.facebook.com/theotherroomlincoln
Like any good speakeasy, The Other Room is inconspicuous.
It’s nestled in an alley in Lincoln’s Haymarket and, from the outside, it’s easy to miss. There’s no neon sign announcing its presence. There’s just a red brick wall with a wrought-iron gate.
On the other side of that gate, there’s a massive door and above it, a large light. The light will be blazing either green or red. As a golden plaque on the door explains, if the light is green, you should knock. If the light is red, that means The Other Room is full. You’ll have to check back, or you can wait.
If you’re visiting on a weekend night, be prepared to wait. The Other Room is as small as it is mysterious. Its capacity is just 25, and The Other Room staff closely manages how many people are in the bar at a time. This ensures that the bar always feels cozy, not crowded.
By controlling the number of patrons, The Other Room maintains its speakeasy feel. During the Prohibition days of the 1920s and 1930s, speakeasys were obviously meant to be kept secret, and The Other Room plays into that illicit vibe by asking patrons to obey a few rules.
Rule No. 1: Put down your cell phones. When you visit The Other Room, you’ll be asked to turn off your phone ringer and avoid using flash photography. If you must, simply must, use your phone, you’re asked to text only.
You’re also asked to keep your voices low and you’ll need to pay in cash. (Never fear, there is an ATM on-site.)
I urge you to play by the rules, because they’re part of what makes The Other Room special. The drinks help with that too — they’re good, so good that The Other Room was a James Beard semifinalist in 2015.
The Other Room specializes in cocktails and, including regular and seasonal offerings, they make more than two dozen of them. Most of the drinks are between $10 and $15. My drinking buddies and I tried a few. Some stood out as favorites; none disappointed.
The bartenders at The Other Room make your drinks in front of you using fresh ingredients, not prepackaged mixes. For example, my Voodoo Mama cocktail with vodka and peach-basil syrup came with fresh basil and the peach tasted like real peach and not an overly-processed, too-sweet peach mixer.
The Voodoo Mama is just one of the drinks I’d recommend; its refreshing blend of basil and peach make it perfect for the last days of summer.
Another standout on The Other Room’s seasonal menu is the Mezcaline Addiction, which as the name implies, features mezcal. It’s $13 and comes with agave nectar, lime juice and jalapeño bitters made in house. Its rim is lined with mango salt, and it comes with a chili mango garnish.
It was unlike anything I’d had before — in a very good way. It was, in turns, smoky and sweet, but always delicious. You should drink a Mezcaline Addiction and tell everyone about it.
And be sure to tell your friends about The Other Room. Despite its air of mystery, it’s much too good to stay a secret.