Upon approaching NOVA 535 Unique Event Space, a man in black tells me to go around back. I follow his directions and wrap around the building, making my way down an alley that I’m not quite sure leads to my destination. Finally, I reach an open door where another man in black greets me. I walk inside and am met by Keep Saint Petersburg Local‘s Olga Bof, who gives me a wristband and a “Welcome drink” ticket. My VIP Localicious Week NOVA 535 Speakeasy experience begins.
I walk upstairs to NOVA’s second floor. A keen-looking young man named Brandon is there at the bar to take care of all guests’ libatial (a word I just made up: adj. relating to cocktails, spirits and the like) needs. I hand him my ticket and have my choice of the following craft cocktails:
- Righteous Mule Punch created by The Mandarin Hide
- Ono Punch created by Station House
- Fall Forward created by Cask & Ale
- The Old Mane by the Sea created by The Mill
All of the cocktails are made with giggle water from St. Petersburg Distillery. I opt for the Fall Forward, as it’s made with whiskey while the others are rum-based. I’m a whiskey broad, myself.
A real doll, who happens to be my wife, and I sip our drinks and stroll around the joint. We peruse (swah-rey)‘s sweet spread of bite-size cupcakes and goodies. I’d rather drink my calories in the form of booze, but my wife enjoys a tiny carrot cake treat and gives it a rave review.
We meet some fellow partygoers whose outfits put ours to shame. They really embody the speakeasy spirit and I’m thoroughly impressed by their commitment.
After feeling bad about our ensemble choices, we head downstairs to check out the rest of the action.
Some of downtown St. Pete‘s best restaurants offer delicious appetizer and main course selections — and daddies and dames line up to fill their plates. Urban Brew & BBQ/Comfort/Provisions serve up pulled pork, their famous mac & cheese, chicken & dumplings and house-cured pastrami. The Mill offers watermelon bruschetta and sweet pea hummus and Station House offers even more culinary delights. Everything we eat is the cat’s pajamas.
We grab a few more cocktails and mosey over to one of the tables by the band. We take a seat to treat our ears to the Nate Najar Quartet. These guys sound like they came straight out of Tin Pan Alley and their musical stylings really bring the whole experience together.
Get the Picture‘s retrofitted, beautifully restored antique Plymouth serves as a photo booth and party people choose 20’s props to use in their strips of keepsake photos.
We get up for another cocktail and notice that the downstairs bar is serving different concoctions than the VIP bar. One of them is a Cornbread Old Fashioned, which certainly piqued my interest.
Cigarette girls in perfect period pieces sell raffle tickets for $1 each or 12 for $10. The winner receives $400 worth of St. Petersburg Distillery products, so obviously we have our eyes on the prize. Our “buy 10 at the beginning and 10 at the end” strategy did not work, as we are 3 tickets away from that sweet, sweet basket o’ goodness. Congrats to the fine sir who took home the loot.
We mix and mingle with people wearing sequined headbands, suspenders, fringe skirts, newsboy caps and feather boas. Some guests dance, some gamble, all have a good time — although I didn’t see anyone doing the Charleston, which was somewhat disappointing.
If you missed the party, hopefully Keep St. Pete Local and NOVA 535 Unique Event Space will bring it back again next year. Until then, there are many other nifty events going on at NOVA 535 — like NOVAWEEN 9: Disco Inferno on Friday, October 30. So get your glad rags ready and buy your tickets at the link today!