801 Chophouse is the cat’s pajamas2/18/2015
The 1920s was an era that continues to fascinate most people, and quite frankly, it’s hard not to be fascinated by it. A new woman emerged, with bobbed hair and shorter dresses. Women adopted a newfound sense of independence when they were allowed to work white-collar jobs and vote. The world started to change in the roaring ’20s, with culture conflicts and societal changes that took the world by storm. But let’s not forgot one of the most important facts and symbols of the 1920s: prohibition.
With the ban on businesses not being allowed to sell or produce alcohol, citizens stockpiled the stuff, because drinking it wasn’t the part that was illegal. People found houses or certain bars that would secretly allow the alcohol and created a sort of dark and fun environment for its patrons.
Wouldn’t it be fun if there was a place with a similar environment now, in 2015? Well, prepare yourselves Des Moines, because there is one. It’s 801 Chophouse, and it’s here to bring the past back to life.
Located in the center of all the action downtown on Grand Avenue, 801 values its prime USDA beef, the creative side dishes (and by that we mean the 11 different kinds of potatoes) and wine from all around the world. The Chophouse takes pride in its very particular selection of beef, as well as vegetables and seafood. So much so that 801 Chophouse has some new restaurants in the 801 family: 801 Fish (an all seafood style restaurant) and Pig & Finch (a more casual take on the Chophouse). Now, we understand how crucial it is to find a place where spending $50 on a steak is well worth it, but let’s get to the important part.
This 1920s-style restaurant and bar is one that Jay Gatsby himself would be proud of. The bar features 37 different types of single malt scotch whisky, 15 different types of bourbon whiskey, five different rye whiskeys, three different Tennessee whiskeys, eight different Canadian whiskeys, and six Irish whiskeys. On top of that rainbow of variety, they offer 14 different types of Cognac and 17 types of Port wine from all around the world. Not a fan of the dark liquors? 801 Chophouse features 12 different kinds of specialty cocktails, which includes a “chocolate” cocktail. And if one does not like chocolate (but do those people really even exist?), they offer an “espresso” cocktail. The bartenders also make a killer Manhattan.
If you’re ready for a change and wanting to try something new, try their new featured cocktail — it’s The Cat’s Pajamas. No, really, that’s what it’s called. The recipe calls for Buffalo Trace bourbon, Averna Amaro, Carpano Antica, Luxardo Maraschino, a dash of Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters, another dash of Angostura bitters and an orange peel on top. The recipe is featured in the restaurant and is available on take-home cards so you can make The Cat’s Pajamas cocktail in the comfort of your own pajamas, with your cat.
The prices are steep at 801 Chophouse, but don’t let that stop you from stopping into the bar at 10 p.m. on a Saturday, and don’t let the white tablecloths mask your judgment about this magnificent 1920s-infused restaurant. After all, as Nick Carraway famously explains, “Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.” CV
801 Grand Ave., Suite 200
Mon.–Fri. 4–10 p.m.
Sat. 5–10 p.m.
Sun. 5–9 p.m.
Mon.– Fri. 4–6 p.m.
Special prices on food only, including shrimp cocktail, oysters on half shell, mini crab cakes, lollipop lamb chops and mini filet sliders.