It seems as if Charlottesville has hit the watering hole jackpot lately: first came the Skybar (I don’t know what we did before rooftop drinking), and in recent weeks there was the debut of a fun and cozy speakeasy that’s perfect if you’re looking for a romantic night out or to channel your inner mobster.
It might violate symbolic rules of the speakeasy to spread the word, but Fellini’s 9 1/2 Speakeasy is too good to keep a secret. You enter through a door just past the normal Fellini’s entrance and head through a curtained off area up a staircase. The rules (“agreement of participation”) to the speakeasy are posted on a door at the top of the stairs, including a dress code and the secret password you have to give for admittance after you knock and the door slot opens. And they’re not fooling around: on my first visit, some too cool person wouldn’t say the password so the bartender slid the slot closed and left the door shut. I loved it.
We aren’t going to post any pictures besides the door sign to maintain some speakeasy mystique, but I can tell you the ambience is small and cozy with some good sex appeal. The layout includes hidden nooks and great banquettes for two or a group. The drink menu is long and has lots of fun options, including many prohibition-inspired favorites, and they even serve up blk water for any Manzo brother fans. We haven’t yet tried any of the small bites to eat, but the menu includes three types of popcorn, desserts, and an intriguing-sounding Elvis panini.
Sure, if you’re looking for a quick casual beer or a raucous night out, it’s not the ideal pick. But it’s different than anything else we have right now and it’s a great blend of upscale drinks, a unique setting, friendly bartenders, and no danger of a police raid. Open Wednesdays to Sundays from 7 pm on, channel Capone and head there.