I was lucky to attend the opening of the new National on 10th, a giant beer-hall cousin of the popular National on 17th. It’s a lovely space with high ceilings, communal tables and a great selection of beer.
The question is not whether Calgary really needs another beer hall; rather, does the city need a Bourbon Room? I’d say the answer is, but of course! You see, while the keg party rages around communal tables downstairs in the new National, select Calgarians will be sipping Kentucky’s finest upstairs. The highly-anticipated Bourbon Room is scheduled to open next week.
It’s a small, dimly-lit space filled with retro red leather chairs and banquettes, with black and white (female) nude portraits hanging on the walls. My guide on the private tour, Stephen Phipps, cocktail guru for the Concorde Group (that owns National), wouldn’t let me take pictures (sorry!), but painted a picture of what the bourbon-swilling clientele can expect (sorry again, ladies, no male nudes, but Phipps hinted he may tend bar naked).
There will be over 40 different kinds of bourbon behind the bar, including some not available for purchase in Canada. The Bourbon Room is meant to be a mellow place where the lucky few can relax and engage in conversation. No iPhones allowed, in other words. (If you want to join the party, it’s happening downstairs in the beer hall.) Access will be by invite only. “It’s going to be exclusive,” says Phipps.
So, if you like to sip bourbon in an intimate setting, best to figure out how to land your name on the Bourbon Room list. And if that fails you can always order a bourbon lemonade downstairs.
- 3 oz homemade lemonade (fresh lemon juice, water, honey)
- 1 oz fresh strawberry puree
- 1-1/2 oz bourbon
Put everybody in a mason jar, add ice, screw on the lid, shake it up and you’re good to go!
— Recipe courtesy Stephen Phipps, Concorde Group