A visit to the newly opened Lock & Key makes for an intriguing night.
The experience, as at many speakeasies, begins with a knock at an unmarked red door.
Next, you’re inside a small black lobby, with the far wall covered in antique doorknobs. A hostess asks you to pull the correct knob, leading to the Art Deco bar inside.
The charade is intended to inspire sensations of Alice in Wonderland, but mostly left us craving a stiff drink.
Fortunately, Lock & Key delivers precisely that, with a menu of Great Gatsby-inspired cocktails from Christophe Namer, a former Grey Goose ambassador who is as adept with herbal liqueurs and fresh juices as he is with French vodka.
There’s the vivacious Shady Schemes ($12), a mezcal, serrano pepper and pineapple mixture briefly flamed with a blowtorch, or the Grape Gatsby ($12), which balances cognac and sherry with Nocino, egg white and red grapes.
The cleverest feature at Lock & Key, though, is located outside, at Stall 239, a small takeout window that specializes in post-drink sandwiches like the Angry Bird, with Taiwanese fried chicken and coleslaw ($5), or the Kalbi Smash, with marinated beef and mashed potatoes ($5).
Trying to comprehend the pairing of a 1920s speakeasy with an Asian-inflected snack stand?
Forget it, Jake. It’s Koreatown.