Speakeasy-Style Bar Set to Open Under the Orpheum

NEW ORLEANS – The Orpheum Theater opened its doors as a vaudeville venue in the New Orleans central business district in 1918, three years before the city’s famed Double Dealer literary journal began publication. So it’s appropriate that the Orpheum’s current owners made the Double Dealer the inspiration for the new speakeasy-style bar that’s opening Friday, Jan. 24 in the theater’s basement.

The building’s owner Eric George, who completed a multimillion dollar renovation of the entire theater in 2015, and designers Farouki Farouki took the Dixie Bohemia theme to the limits.

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Patrons will enter through an unmarked door from the street and then walk downstairs (a rare experience in New Orleans) past signs and graffiti that recalls the theater’s early days. Surrounding the main bar, there are several private booths that can be made even more private by closing sets of vintage theater curtains. Red light bulbs over each booth tell the waitstaff when customers are ready for another round.

Behind the bar, there’s a row of small circular mirrored doors at eye level. These open into another series of private booths where the same red-light system is in effect.

The most striking feature in the bar are two giant floor-to-ceiling “infinity” mirrors that look like a blend of art deco and science fiction. Turns out these art installations are also doorways to another, more private section of the bar called the Green Room.

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There’s also a VIP room that’s wallpapered with a vintage cyclorama (painted curtain) from an old theater and the Poker Room that looks perfect for an underground game.

“We’re always looking to maximize value for our patrons and community,” said George. “We saw an opportunity to use a part of the Orpheum Theater that was dormant. So, we set out to create a venue that would capture the mystique and energy of the theater’s past, while embracing aspects of the present and future. Since we acquired the theater in 2014, we’ve been focused on enhancing its experience and accessibility. Credit to our team for getting that done.”

Double Dealer bar director Miki Nikolic has planned several new “future classics” including the Ultimately (gin, cucumber water, lime juice, jalapeño simple syrup) and the Shining Pyramid (tequila, prickly pear puree, maraschino, hibiscus syrup, lime juice). Both are named for a literary work featured in the original Double Dealer. 

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The new bar will open to the public beginning at 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24 at 129 Roosevelt Way.

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