If forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest, then bathtub gin must’ve registered on the tongue as pure ambrosia. Though the homemade spirit isn’t on the menu at the new Prohibition cocktail bar in Vancouver’s Rosewood Hotel Georgia, first opened in 1927, a concoction even more “mad, bad and dangerous to know” — absinthe, a.k.a. the “Green Lady” — is. Her presence is suggested at the purposely enigmatic entrance, marked only by a sign-less rusted door, by way of a single green light — as seductive as the one at the end of Daisy’s dock.
Welcome to a glamorous take on the speakeasies of the ’20s and early ’30s by Munge Leung, the Toronto-based firm responsible for the rejuvenation of the historic hotel itself as well as Hawksworth, its anchor restaurant. Once admitted, you and your party descend the main staircase and are greeted by a gorgeous, glittering, custom-designed glass-and-metal chandelier. You’re in; the atmosphere is luxe; the night is young and ripe with possibilities.
Look up: an ornate ceiling clad in Macassar Ebony veneer, with six octagonal stepped sections, floats above the main bar (topped in black stone with quartz highlights) and banquette alcoves (separated by sharp-edged metal screens). Shades of jade run throughout: at the bar, in table lamps and stools’ crushed-leather and cowhide upholstery; in the alcoves, in plush tufted-leather seating and ottomans. Lavish black-velvet drapery exposes and conceals.
Prohibition’s specialty absinthe and cocktail program includes the namesake Hotel Georgia cocktail, pulled from the hotel’s archives as a tribute. If you go, order one for me, and tell them Jay Gatsby sent you. •