Sassafras looks just like The Haunted Mansion, if it had arisen from Savannah soil instead of Disneyland’s. The new bar, from the 1933 Group behind Oldfield’s, Bigfoot Lodge, Thirsty Crow, and La Cuevita, cracks its wrought iron gates tomorrow evening, wall-to-wall with old-timey gimcracks, doodads, and relics. What’s in store for Hollywood?
The devil gets down to the Georgia townhouse details here, with hanging plants swaying in the al fresco entrance and moss sneaking through the ceiling of a salon. There are model ships, vintage signs, brown bottles and wooden barrels, electric candelabras and disembodied power switches, portraits of Southern slave-masters gentleman, mismatched antique furniture, saloon floors, stunning fanlights and back-lit shutters, and a parlor ripped straight from The Hatfields and McCoy’s.
The list goes on like a Southern Stefan. There’s a stuffed bear in a glass box, a second floor balcony for washboard jamborees, and even a bartender that looks like Revival-era Gillian Welch working aside the antediluvian him-bots in requisite bow ties and tatted sleeves.
The place looks pretty damn cool, we have to say. But looks aren’t everything, even in Hollywood. Sassafras is still, after all, a place to drink and seek sex-partners. The crowd at last night’s friends-and-family preview were already dressed to the nines in Dustbowl dresses and straw hats, understandably dreaming of a different era and looking better than the average scuzz up the street walking The Boulevard.
The cocktail menu is broken into two halves, divided by a central screed explaining the benefits of barrel-aged cocktails, which Sassafras is all about. In fact, the most impressive piece of work in this grand palace of geegaws is a rotating piece of machinery torn from a dry-cleaner, on which brown bottles of barrel-aged Sazeracs, Mai Tais, Vieux Carres, and Manhattans swing from the neck, available in thirteen dollar drinks.
The other side has house cocktails like a sweet “Grilled Peach Punch” packed with rum and brandy slow-steeped in peach, spices, and milk, plus a “Blackstrap Old Fashioned” with molasses, Buffalo Trace whiskey, and house-made cherry-vanilla bitters, a watery “Peppercorn Cobbler” with subtle pink peppercorn liqueur, whiskey, and Amontillado, understated mint juleps with toasted pecan liqueur and rum, and our favorite in a blurry evening, an update on the Pimm’s cup with macerated strawberries and salted cucumber.
Starting next week, Sassafras will unleash a short menu with bar food versions of jambalaya, grilled boudin on braised collards, Coca Cola-glazed short rib sliders, grits and shrimp, and sweet potato pie. We were half in the can by the time we got in to this place and swerving by the time crackerjack club warden Steve Taylor showed us the door. But yes, we would come back now, y’all hear?
Sassafras officially opens to the public tomorrow night at 6:00 P.M. and will likely be a barn-burner for anyone seeking to ditch the Tinseltown techno-fest to make believe in a heavily themed time-warp with vintage music, archaic fashions, and an original bar program.
Sassafras, 1233 N. Vine St. Hollywood; 323-467-2800.