The Velvet Tango Room

In Cleveland, there's this uber-swanky place to go have old fashioned cocktails called The Velvet Tango Room on the outskirts of the trendy Tremont area. The repertoire of their drinks fall in the scotch, whiskey, bourbon, rye and gin family as those were the original alcoholic treats available when drinks were made by hand and with finesse--or so we were told by are male bartender. That's where the ambiance and swank at the VTR come in. There is a single beverage made with vodka, the Moscow Mule, and it's served in a copper cup; vodka was after Prohibition so it's only on the menu because it's a unique cocktail and so many people are familiar with vodka drinks.

As my friend Jen and I started our night of crossing this one off the Bucket List, we opted to meet for dinner at one of my favorite places from last summer, South Side. We started our night sharing a couple of small plates (chicken and waffles and sesame seared ahi tuna--yeah, totally different choices, but both very good!) and having a couple of cocktails. Just as we were about to leave, a younger guy who'd borrowed one of our chairs returned it and we ribbed him a bit. He offered to buy us drinks, but we declined as we were ready to head to the VTR. Jen and I both enjoyed this end to our time as SS because we'd been talking about how no one ever offers to buy us a drink unless it's because of someone we're with. It was nice not knowing which one of us prompted him to offer.

When we pulled down Columbus Avenue looking for the Velvet Tango Room, I saw a brick building in the midst of lots of rundown homes or establishments and wondered out loud if that could be it. It was. I have to admit i was surprised to see a neon sign with the name in the window. Given the expectation I had of the place, that seemed to not fit. As we approached the door, the owner opened it and greeted us. He was dressed impeccably with a blue suit, silk ascot and a cane with a brass handle. His white-grey hair was swept back and his facial hair impeccably groomed. At once he seemed handsome and debonnaire; I was enchanted as was Jen. We opted for the bar rather than the lounge. It was fun to read the menu, talk to the bartenders and watch them make the drinks. Many of the drinks require LOTS of shaking to create the fizz or froth (created through the use of egg whites).

I have to say that the only disappointment I had was with the crowd. I think I expected a group more in our age group (late 30s) rather than the 20-somethings and the older crowd (50+). Having Jen with me made it all worthwhile, though, because she is funny, wise, a good listener and just good company all around. Would I go again? If I brought a group of people or just wanted a fine cocktail, definitely. For a night out, probably not. The drinks are in the $16 range for the most part and are worth it. It only takes one to really have you enjoying them. Plus, the bartender gave us each a short India Lime Fizz when she made one for another guest. We'd both been talking about that one so it was great that we got to try it. I enjoyed it very much, but only drank a third to maybe half of it because I am not much for creamy drinks. There was a black and white movie on while we were there that had Joan Crawford and Natalie Wood in it, but I can't be certain.


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