Saturday, November 27, 2021

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Tiki bar vacation


Bellhop Tiki bar opens in East Village.

Dale Rinderman creates Bellhop’s house cocktails.

Imagine a tiki bar. What comes to mind? Usually it’s in a tropical place — a hut with a thatched roof, where patrons sit on rattan bar stools, sipping fruity drinks with tiny umbrellas while relaxing with an ocean breeze nearby.

So when the Bellhop Tiki Bar opened at 440 E. Grand Ave. in the East Village in May, it was among concrete and steel, with no body of water, palm trees, nor even an outdoor patio in sight — just a round Bellhop sign perched atop a brick building. What the outside décor lacks in the tiki world, the inside makes up for it.

The wide-open bar with tall industrial ceilings used to be a 1929-era auto garage. Inside, tropical foliage of white and green walls sets the mood. Lime green, aqua and burnt orange stools surround the bar. The stools, not typical bar height — but not chair height either — feature seats wide enough for a reviewer’s middle-aged bottom to sit comfortably.

Two huge corner booths seat 10, along with assorted tables and ample bar seating. A whimsical wall mural portrays a hotel’s bellhop — look closely to discover quirky details.

Prep Iowa

The Bellhop concept is named after co-owner Nick Tillinghast and his history of working in the hotel industry.

“The bellhop is usually the first person who greets you, and often this can create a great first impression of the place,” says Nick.

This is the second bar for Nick and his co-owners. Their first venture, Hello Marjorie, takes patrons back to the 1960s, where classic cocktails were born. Keeping the Bellhop retro, Nick refers to the décor as a combination of “a Brooklyn diner with a Palm Springs Hotel.”

Unique cocktails, such as Painkiller, Junglebird and Zombie contain different types of rum, along with various liqueurs and freshly squeezed fruit juices, shaken with spices zested on top. Cocktail prices range from $8 to $13; beer prices start at $4. Happy hour offers a $6 daiquiri — but don’t expect it to be frozen, it’s simply shaken and served ice cold.

The clear glasses with white leaves and a cursive lowercase Bellhop adds a special classy touch to the drink. The margaritas are served in green glasses — a find on eBay.

Bellhop doesn’t serve food and welcomes patrons to bring in their own munchies. Nick says the East Village is a thriving neighborhood.

“It’s so vibrant; it’s turned into a destination district. We hope people can come in here and make the experience they want and to feel like they’re on vacation,” says Nick. ♦

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