While it was closed for a long-anticipated relocation, The Haberdasher was out of contention for the Nappie Awards, but 2017 was a year of redemption for the downtown cocktail spot as it reopened as Best New Bar and reclaimed its designation as Mobile’s Best Fancy Drink Bar.
The Haberdasher returned last June at 113 Dauphin St., after closing its original location a few blocks west in 2015. According to beverage director Roy Clark, the move was a blessing.
“It’s beyond what we ever could have imagined, honestly, and it’s only gotten better as more restaurants and bars have come downtown,” Clark said. “We’re surrounded by hotels now, so we’re constantly seeing out-of-towners, and Mardi Gras is a lot better for us in this location.”
COMPLETE LIST — 2017 NAPPIE AWARDS
Several things separate The Haberdasher from other bars, but one of the first customers notice is its aesthetic. Soft lighting and wooden-barrel table tops highlight an aged look the barroom gets from the exposed rock and brick that frame it.
While finding that look under the original blue stucco walls was “a happy accident,” Clark said it helped create an ambiance that’s classy but not stuffy.
“We wanted to make a space that felt comfortable for everyone,” he said. “We don’t want to be perceived as a stuffy, moody cocktail lounge. We’re a local bar, and we want people to have fun and be relaxed, but at the same time, in a nice setting.”
While its appearance may help bring in customers, the libations are the focus of the “Hab Lab.” From the tried and true Old Fashioned, to the sweet gin and cucumber Jerk Store, the quality and variety of cocktails at The Haberdasher are notable.
“If you look at our current menu, I think almost every one of our bartenders has at least one drink on there,” Clark said. “We like to play around with esoteric ingredients that aren’t necessarily common in cocktails around here, and we always want to keep moving. You don’t want to have the same menu forever, so we like to try new and exciting things.”
Serving the number and diversity of customers the bar can host requires a lot of prep work, a long and reliable supply chain and an astute and well-trained staff. Every day, fresh citrus, cucumber and other juices are made on location, along with simple syrups and others preparations as needed.
“We invest a lot of time and effort into staff training on everything from technique and the history of classic cocktails, to knowledge of spirits,” he said. “We take the staff to distilleries and breweries because it’s nice to know where your product comes from and see how things are made.”
Clark said seeing The Haberdasher recognized by Lagniappe readers “means a ton” to the staff and the owners, especially because they never really campaigned for votes.
“The fact that people are paying attention and are excited, that’s why we do this … for everybody else,” he added. “We want to give Mobile and every individual guest a great experience.”
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