On any night of the week after 9 p.m., Post Street in Japantown is a very quiet, unassuming part of the city. For the unschooled night crawler/bourbon drinker, it’ s not even in the playbook—a ghost town with a Benihana.[Photo: Jennifer Yin]
A Bourbon At?is sponsored by our friends at Basil Hayden’s Bourbon. Basil Hayden’s is handcrafted, light-bodied and aged longer with twice as much rye to produce an incredibly approachable, sophisticated and luxurious bourbon. It’s spicy. Unexpected. And full of potential. Just like your plans tonight.
There’ s a juke you can run, but you’ ll be oft-interrupted when one of the doors of the three karaoke rooms pops open with the roar of folks royally destroying high notes in songs like Sweet Child of Mine. But that’ s actually where most of the fun lies. Karaoke rooms large enough to seat 15 run $75 per hour. One of the aforementioned female hostesses will graciously bring a bourbon or two to you and yours from the bar.
Take a bite next time though and head in for a bourbon. When you round the corner of the stairwell, the first impression of a huge basement bar kind of catches you off guard. On second glance, the wall of mirrors reveals it’ s only half of what you think. Two sets of mint-colored leather booths jut out of the walls reaching towards you as you approach the bar, curling in another direction on the right. Twin couch booths answer the call for larger parties, separated with fogged-up glass. Roll in there with a group of eight or 15 and you can take over either one. The ever-so-generous hostesses will take very good care of you.
Dimples makes itself a bit easier to weed out, but not by a whole lot. There’ s a sign out front with a martini glass on it, the international symbol for “ come booze here.” But poke your head in and all you see is a dark stairwell leading down. It’ s like they’ re really fishing for you, but with no bait.
But dig a little deeper, and you’ ll find it’ s more like a Prohibition era “ ghost town.” Everyone is drinking in hidden corridors—basement bars and private second floor karaoke lounges. It's alive. But nothing is explicit for the pedestrian walking the street. You have to earn it. Or know it.
-Eddy El Espia