The Deep End Is Giving Craft Cocktails the Space-Age Treatment

Things are getting delightfully weird at Honeycut’s new bar

An exotica version of Kiss’ Rock N Roll All Nite whipped the crowd into a frenzy at the press preview of Honeycut’s updated cocktail bar, the Deep End. Maybe it was the mad skillz on the xylophones or the fact that the band members of Jimmy Psycho Experiment dressed up with Communion-style alien masks. But everyone was feeling this trippy rendition, making the alien cantina band music the perfect soundtrack for the newly reimagined basement bar.

The craft cocktail bar, which was initially described by Proprietors LLC co-owner Alex Day at its 2013 opening as the “gentler, quieter complement to the disco,” is no more. The pool table and thoughtful nature diorama of the original decor have long been replaced with a disco ball, neon aquarium, and a colorful dancefloor of UV-reactive paint. Good-bye pre-Prohibition; hello, space-age fern bar.

Although this change may seem drastic to those who haven’t regularly visited Honeycut, it’s actually been in constant evolution since opening day. Thank the fact that craft cocktails’ reach has expanded to the mainstream and can now coexist in a party atmosphere. “Things can be awesome and high quality and not be precious, and this is something that I think [general manager Dave] Fernie and I have done well,” says assistant general manager Mary Bartlett. “We listen to our audience and our audience doesn’t want precious.” People flock to Honeycut to celebrate birthdays or Saturdays; there’s no room or inclination to sit and ponder cocktails.

But Bartlett and Fernie have long transformed the experience of drinking craft cocktails from a pensive exercise into, well, Backpack Party. And that continues on the new Deep End cocktail menu, which Fernie says is inspired in design by the Hooters menu; “like the pictographic menu and just that cheeseball element.”

The new drinks are basically high-volume cocktails done well. For instance, since the frozen cocktail machines from before couldn’t handle the weekend crush, the bartenders switched to iSi to fake that texture in their featured White Russian and Pina Colada. “What we found with iSi and proper dilution is we can achieve that velvety, rich texture that we’ve always loved about having a frozen drink machine,” says Fernie. The result is a drink that the bartender described as “a pillow for your mouth” and “a cocktail panna cotta.”

The menu also features “legitimized bastardized cocktails” (like a Sex on the Beach variation) and cocktail shoutouts to beloved bars in the U.S. (like the famous Brancolada from Donna in New York). And since this is a Proprietors LLC bar they do still use scientific and kitchen technology when creating cocktails. Some of the drinks use clarified lime, almond-infused bourbon, and ghee-washed cognac-armagnac. After all, appreciative sipping and dancing are not mutually exclusive here.

The Deep End, which is open Sunday, Tuesday through Thursday, is Honeycut fully realized: fun, unique, well-made cocktails and now with TWO dancefloors. The Deep End at Honeycut, behind 819 S. Flower St., Downtown, 213-688-0888,