Speakeasy: noun, (during Prohibition) an illicit liquor store or nightclub.
Tristan and I walk up to the front entrance of The Middle Spoon. It’s one of the go-to spots in Halifax, Nova Scotia for delicious desserts. We’ve heard the word. There’s a speakeasy with insanely good cocktails in the basement, but we have to say a password to get in. We pause before entering. “Ok, who’s going to do the talking?” Tristan asks. “Um, you do it,” I reply. “Why does it have to be me?” he moans. I give in with a shrug, “fine I’ll do it.”
We walk through the front door and the hostess comes to greet us. “Hey there, table for 2?” I pause, look at Tristan, eyes go wide and I burst out into a nervous laugh. “Umm, well…” I sheepishly stammer. I’m trying to remember the phrase I’m supposed to use but I’m drawing a blank. “Photography is like…” I start, but can’t seem to remember the rest. I look at Tristan with ‘help me’ splashed across my face. He chuckles nervously and says, “life is like photography, you develop from the negatives.” There’s a momentary pause. I think we’ve blown it. But the hostess simply nods her head and says, “just a moment.”
She returns a few minutes later and tells us to follow her. We walk through the tables of patrons enjoying swoon-worthy desserts and head towards the staircase. We continue to follow the hostess down the stairs and past the kitchen where all the desserts are being prepped. We turn down a narrow hallway with a large metal door at the end of it. There’s something thrilling, if not eerie, about it all. Laugher can be heard, low bass rumbling from beyond. She grips the enormous latch to the door. It slowly groans to the side, and as we step through the threshold, we’re transported into another era.
It’s dimly lit. Swing music and blues from the 20s & 30s are playing. There’s a sweet smell in the air. One wall is lined with bookcases filled from end to end with old, weather-worn books. Another wall has a leather-clad bench running the length. Exposed pipes & electrical lines run overhead. Friends, couples and people on dates fill about 20 tables sitting on miss-matched chairs. The hostess leads us to an empty table and says, “welcome to Noble, your server will be with you shortly.”
Noble is Halifax’s secret bar. It was created about 5 years ago when owner Lacey Doherty had a need for more space for the Friday and Saturday night crowds. She decided to convert the extra storage space in The Middle Spoon’s basement and would serve the same desserts but offer a different drink menu. She also wanted to create a more ‘exclusive-feeling’ space, one that would require a password like the speakeasies of the 1920s.
The menu features about 20 different cocktails (2-3oz) divided into those that are shaken or stirred. All varieties of spirits are offered using as many local distilleries as possible, with cocktail names such as Holland House, Rosemary’s Baby, and Sherry Cobbler.
I ordered a Time Management, a gin-based, shaken cocktail with aged Antler Rum, Aperol, fresh mango and lime, and ginger syrup. Tristan ordered Nodootabootit, a stirred cocktail with Bourbon Whiskey, Apple Brandy, Fino Sherry, vanilla liqueur, and cherry vanilla bitter. We watched as the bartender meticulously crafted each cocktail, almost like a science experiment, with eye droppers, precise measurements, and finishing mists.
The drinks were delicious, full bodied and complex. The kind of drinks you sip slowly to savour every last drop while engaged in meaningful or philosophical conversation.
To go with our drinks, we order 3 desserts from The Middle Spoon menu – the peanut butter pie, cardamom carrot cake & New York cheesecake. Each one was delectable, though my taste buds were particularly happy with the peanut butter pie.
Tristan and I enjoyed every minute in Noble. It was quite thrilling to be in such an exclusive spot, one that doesn’t require the membership fees or being a part of the ‘it’ crowd. The cocktails are crafted to perfection and the desserts will satisfy any sweet tooth.
Noble is open most Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8pm-2am. When the green cactus in the front window of The Middle Spoon is lit, Noble is open.
The password to get into Noble changes frequently, and if you don’t say it correctly (or even at all), you won’t get in. So how does one get the password you ask? Well, I’m not going to spell it out because that would take away the fun of it all. But what I will say is that you have to sign up for it. So, go to The Middle Spoon’s website and have a good look around. When you find it, you’ll know.