Stepping through District’s fuchsia flower-framed door is like entering an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole. “We wanted this to be a destination—a choose-your-own-adventure,” co-owner Marty Kenney says of the first components of the five-part concept that began opening in the Naples Design District this summer. Sidle up to one of the teal velvet stools and order a cheeky cocktail, like the Pear-A-Chute (Irish whiskey, pear purée, and Madagascar vanilla) or a nonalcoholic equivalent like Mexican Chocolate (NA bourbon with frothed organic almond milk and chocolate). Executive chef Brad Moss, previously of Fifth Ave South seafood outpost Truluck’s, spearheads the menu of elevated bar fare ranging from filet mignon tartare with quail egg to fish and chips with Royal Ossetra Caviar to truffled waffle fries with pecorino cheese—the fan favorite. (“We called it Side Chick as a joke, because you can’t get Chick-fil-A on Sundays,” Marty quips.)
The atmosphere changes when you push through the ‘Staff Only’ door in the back. The city’s first true speakeasy, the bar requires a secret passphrase for access. Ask, “Are you hiring?” and you’ll receive an application to take inside the small lounge, where up to 16 people at a time (in groups of four or fewer) “clock in” for a 90-minute shift and sip 1920s Prohibition cocktails or premium spirits like The Macallan M scotch while chatting over the piped-in sounds of jazz. The team expects to debut the final three outdoor sister components—The Kitchen, The Mini Bar, and The Alley—this fall, with lavish weekend brunch and an outdoor oasis and a bar as a backdrop for live music and entertainment.