Recently added to the endangered species list is the post-work drinking establishment. The long drive back to the suburbs has made the idea of a pop or two before heading home not just unsavory, but criminal. Sure, there are restaurants and bars across the city offering happy hours and other enticements, but the downtown, non-hotel bar is a rare sighting nowadays. But fear not—the phoenix is stirring on a quiet block of Baronne Street.
Victory Bar has all the positive attributes of a traditional watering hole coupled with the trappings of the 21st-Century mixology renaissance. The laid-back atmosphere is more lively immediately after the five o’clock crowd shows up, but as day turns to night, the dark space exhibits a speakeasy feel dominated by red overtones on the walls, behind the bar, and in the shades of the oil lamps placed along each table.
A visit to Victory opens with perhaps the city’s only amuse bouche cocktail, which on a recent visit combined bourbon, blackberry, citrus and egg white shaken into a frothy concoction that maintains perfect balance between bitter and sweet. Classic cocktails are on offer, including the original daiquiris, showcasing the power of simplicity. While keeping an eye toward the past, Victory delights with newfangled contraptions, such as the “Beetin’ the Lime,” which invites beet juice and brown sugar to complement dark rum and lime for an earthy, refreshing quaffer. “The Councilor”—an adaptation of the Moscow Mule augmented with elderflower liqueur—could supplant the Pimm’s Cup as the new drink of summer, while “Bare Necessities” is a cornucopia of flavors: bourbon, Barenjager, basil, blackberries, ginger ale and the rest of the kitchen sink. What emerges from the glass is subtle and fragrant like the trail of a woman’s perfume across a room.
The small kitchen turns out small plates with an international bend. Tender and spicy chicken satay shares space with Korean BBQ beef and pork served on a sizzling hot plate alongside all the necessities to build your own lettuce wraps. Pizzas are baked to order, but too expensive at $15 for a 10-inch pie with a pre-fab crust. Snackable choices include popcorn with a hint of truffle oil, citrusy olives and edamame.
But you are here to drink and drink well. There was a time when the bartender served as therapist, news reporter and confidant. While we cannot speak to the quality of their advice on the keys to a successful marriage, or who will win the November election, the bartenders at Victory can most certainly be relied upon to deliver an excellent cocktail at the end of a long day of work.
339 Baronne Street. (504) 522-8664. Tuesday – Saturday, 4:30 p.m. – ’til.