Friday, December 22, 2006

Dish on Drinks: Kingman's Lucky Lounge

A SOMA Lounge in Oakland
3332 Grand Ave., Oakland
Grand Lake neighborhood
(510) 465-5464
Happy hour: 5 to 8 p.m. ($2 off well drinks)
Lucky hour: 8 to 9 p.m. (Half off well drinks)
Opened to 2 a.m. nightly

Because it’s the holiday season, and the holidays are a time for celebrating and libations, I thought I’d do a review of a bar. Despite being the Single Guy Chef, my days of hanging out at the bars into the late hours are long gone. I’d rather be home mixing my own special pomegranate martinis. But you have to be in the scene to be seen, right?

So I venture out to the Grand Lake area to meet a date at Kingman’s Lucky Lounge. (Yes, you read that right. I was on a date. Whether I got lucky at the Lucky Lounge is none of your business!) It was my first time at the Lucky Lounge and I was sucked into the eclectic Euro-velvet charm of the décor and the dim, very dim lighting.

What’s even more surprising is that Kingman’s Lucky Lounge has been around for many years in its spot on Grand Avenue near the Grand Lake Theatre. It’s like this ruby gem in this row of tired stores and marginal restaurants that seem to close earlier than Bingo Night at a Florida retirement home.

But back to Kingman’s. This narrow space provides a cozy, intimate spot for people looking for a fun neighborhood bar on the East Bay and, specifically, in the Grand Lake/Lake Merritt area of Oakland. Its charming décor of seventies lamps and vintage love seats is accented by chill-worthy music and funky specialty drinks.

What I like about the Lucky Lounge’s drinks is that they’re made from quality alcohol. They have fun names like Sex With An Alligator (Absolut Citron, Midori and lime juice), St. George Manhattan (Super Premium Single-Malt Barley Whiskey with Sweet Vermouth), Crushed Velvet (Absolut Citron, Lemon Drop with Chamboro liquer), Pomarita (Pomegranate juice and tequila), and Luck Be A Lady (Raspberry Stoli’s and pineapple juice). The drinks weren’t always consistent (Luck Be A Lady was a bit tame in taste compared to a St. George Manhattan) but I was there mostly for the atmosphere rather than the liquor. They do make a nice dirty martini--still one of my standard drinks.

In the early evenings, Lucky Lounge is a welcoming neighborhood party with a diverse crowd. Late into the night, it can get crowded and all bets are off regarding the drinks. But still, Kingman’s Lucky Lounge keeps the cool in Oakland.

No rating because this isn’t a restaurant, but out of five stars, I would give the Lucky Lounge three stars. I mean, I had a second date there, so how bad can it be? ;-)

NOTE: Earlier this month, the owners of the Lucky Lounge opened a new location in Albany, spreading the cool factor around the East Bay. If you’re in the neighborhood, check out Kingman’s Ivy Room at 860 San Pablo Ave. (510-526-5888).

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