The Flamingo Room (1214 Commercial Drive) is easily one of the more unique and exciting bars in the local pipeline right now, so when I was offered a walk-through of the space late last week, I jumped at the opportunity.
Upon entering through a side door tucked next to Havana on Commercial Drive, I found my way down the pink-painted staircase to a subterranean oasis where staff of the new Miami-inspired bar and soon to be “go-to” spot for live entertainment were hanging plants, polishing glasses and clearing boxes in anticipation of opening day.
Though at the time of my tour, the room was still technically unfinished, by my estimation it was at least 90% there. Between the rich colours, ample greenery and easy lighting, it was not a stretch to imagine the ‘sultry Miami night in a lush courtyard’ vibe that will greet guests starting later this week (The Flamingo Room opens on Wednesday, December 6th).
From what I have seen and tasted, Beverage Director Alexa Greenman’s drinks menu is going to kill it. Expect a rum-heavy line-up of tropical inspired drinks, as well as fresh takes on the classics, some very tasty zero-proof options, a locally-focused beer selection, and a wine list. Executive Chef Andrew Hounslow’s snack menu pairs perfectly across the board; think Cubano skewers, Huevos Diablos, tajin-spiced Compressed Watermelon, and a Jicama + Chickpea ‘Ceviche’.
At launch, the stage line-up will feature local musicians, Latin and jazz groups, weekly DJ sets, and an evening dedicated to stand-up comedy. “Our live stage will be a hub of local talent and personalities, bringing our community together through performances that make each visit a unique experience,” says Tyson McNamara, Stage Manager. “We believe in the power of supporting local artists, providing a space where their creativity shines.”
If this is the first you’re hearing of it, here is an excerpt from our previous story, published at the end of August, 2023:
“Guests will enter through the ‘service door’ at 1214 Commercial Drive (between Havana and its neighbouring building – formerly Fets Whisky Kitchen) and follow a “vibrant corridor, reminiscent of a warm Miami night” to pass through an arched threshold, landing in a 900-square-foot space characterized by a prominent raised stage and well-positioned bar.
The reimagined version of the venue will have 58 seats, including a flock of four-tops down the centre of the room, burnt orange banquet booth seating against the south wall, and six stools along the bar. A “Miami Vice vibe” will be achieved (under the direction of Vancouver-based interior design duo, Swoon Studio) through rich and layered colours, wood accents, hanging lanterns, wall-mounted lamps, textured walls, and a feature mural. During my visit, light was streaming from a pair of overhead skylights, but upon completion, plants will obscure the light for a more muted, gentle “sun falling through a dense jungle” feel.
The food program at The Flamingo Room (designed by Chef Andrew Hounslow, with an assist from Head Chef Gavin Yokoyama) is all about shareable snacks and Latin influence, such as watermelon (blended, reduced, and compressed) finished with tajine, queso and fresh mint; Cubano skewers; and house made chips and dips. According to Chef Hounslow, “The dishes we create for The Flamingo Room will be developed to compliment and elevate whatever Alexa [Greenman] does with drinks. Her cocktails will be the star of the show. We’re here (and excited) to support her vision!”
Head Bartender Alexa Greenman comes to The Flamingo Room after time spent working at BNA Brewing Co. in Kelowna, as well as in the coffee industry – both experiences she credits with teaching her to enjoy and deeply respect service and hospitality. I’ve previewed her menus and even tasted a few drinks, and as a cocktail enthusiast, I’m stoked that she is on board. Not only is Greenman a capable and creative bartender, she also loves to geek out on ingredients, and brings what she learns into service in a most enthusiastic and endearing way.
…from playful takes on the traditional daiquiri to transportive tropical punch over crushed ice. But there is more than rum going on here; Greenman’s program includes a cross-section of cocktails plus a nice collection of wine, local beers and zero-proof beverages (make sure you try Merlin’s Salted Cucumber Marg). The approachable and informative menu will include descriptions of drinks by flavour profile, ingredients, and shape of the glass…and the option to add a cheeky beer to your order…”
The Flamingo Room opens on Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 at 5pm. Regular hours will be Wednesday to Sunday, from 5pm to late. Keep an eye on their Instagram feed for news and events announcements, but first turn up the heat by scoping out our photo gallery of the space (before it’s inevitably packed full of bodies) below: