While the St. Petersburg and Clearwater area has been referred to as "God's Waiting Room" because of its aging retiree population, inventive bars and eateries are popping up all over the city.
And it's all about cocktail couture and paying homage to history, in a tongue-and-cheek sort of fashion, at Station House's hidden speakeasy.
God's Waiting Room is a speakeasy located inside Station House St. Pete — Photo courtesy of Station House St. Pete
Located inside Station House, a restaurant nestled within a portion of a historic white-washed brick building on 1st Avenue, you'll find God's Waiting Room itself.
The rear cocktail lounge dubbed GWR is accessible from the main dining area, but it used to be exclusively accessed by an unmarked street-side elevator. Kind of like a stairway to heaven.
A favorite secret for the locals, GWR is well worth the search. Open on Friday and Saturday nights, the dimly-lit lounge hosts an experimental cocktail program that's gained popularity for its resident mixologists' fearless and experimental approach to creating cocktails and liquor.
Station House and GWR feature an inventive cocktail program — Photo courtesy of Station House St. Pete
The latter is arrived at after a 16+ hour process that involves dozens of ingredients and a sous-vide cooking technique –heating the mixture at low temps in a sealed bag for a long period of time.
The result is an individually unique bottle of liquor every time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone for good.
In less than a year, Station House and GWR have become known across the Tampa Bay area for taking tried-and-true cocktails outside of traditional boundaries, while creating authentic one-of-a-kind originals. Some are available on the menu and some are only available by request.
Both traditional and unique cocktails are available — Photo courtesy of Station House St. Pete
While cocktails draw the crowds, the food menu is certainly crave-worthy in its own right. Chef Justin Sells, formerly a chef at Emeril's Orlando, crafted a menu that brilliantly complements the inventive cocktail program.
The culinary product, coined “American Cocktail Cuisine,” is inspired by and a tribute to Station House’s craft cocktails in a process described by the chef as a “seamless alchemy of food and spirit.”
The lounge is located inside a historic building — Photo courtesy of Station House St. Pete
Made for sharing, dive into Chef Sell's small plates like the chicharrones with Labneh (an Arabian cheese), chili and mint, as well as the K.F.C. wings drenched in Korean chili sauce and housemade kimchi.
Other bonuses: the sweet fennel sage sausage is made in-house and the service at the restaurant is impeccable.
For reservations, call (727) 895-8260. And make sure to inquire about cocktails at GWR.