The Local: Whiskey Soda Lounge

Now this is a rarity; a bar in the area I’ve never been to and have no idea what to expect from. I’m at the Whiskey Soda Lounge, which as the name suggests, better versed in the realms of the spirit. It’s likely that I have chosen unwisely with my drink; maybe this place is meant to serve people tall, thin glasses of bloody marys. Still, I can get an Alameda Black Bear Stout so no complaints.

I must admit, I almost decided against beer when I saw there were house made drinking vinegars. That’s a novelty I’ve not experienced and more than I love beer, I quest for the new. There is something about this place that doesn’t quite gel though. ‘Vintage’ lampshades featuring asian stars from the 60s, with a run of music that feels more jarring than harmonious in a lounge prepares me more for the setting of a drug-induced haze and less for soothing drinks.

The place is very, very clean and equally uncomfortable. It serves food but doesn’t smell like food. Steel barstools, old chairs that saw their best days at a gradeschool, every table wrapped in vinyl tablecloth either to hide the inconsistency of the tables, or the damage done to them, though likely both. The large windows at the front let the light in, but the seat backs have been cut so low that I cannot both lean back and comfortably reach for my drink. Is this meant to improve my posture? Force me to lean in on the table and engage with the person across from me?

I don’t know. The WSL doesn’t offer much privacy for its patrons and there are small, tall, circular tables in the middle of the place that don’t have any chairs whatsoever. Which makes sense; the place would be too crowded otherwise but these lonely spots feel more disquieting than comfortable.

Now I wish I was facing the other direction; instead of looking at the wall-o-hol and into the kitchen, out, onto the street and looking into the night.

This place was spun off from the Pok Pok; the restaurant they had was so popular they put the lounge into a building across the street to make more room.

When I write that, I get it; the WSL is the younger sister, trying on the gleaming leather jacket that her brother has because that’s the identity that’s available. She’s still on her way to acquiring one of her own and while it’s not ugly she can’t be comfortable in it either.

So it is here. The people are nice. The reputation is there. But it doesn’t stand on it’s own two feet yet. Given the seating comfort, I wonder how the audience will be narrowed (or maybe increased?) and how long it might take for this lounge to step out from the shadow and have its own calling.

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