Journalist and historian Jonathan Foreman once asked Winston Churchill what he believed made him so successful. Churchill famously attributed his success to economy of effort when he said: “Never stand up when you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down.”
Until someone opens a bar where one can drink fully reclined, there will be nothing to equal a lounge for chilling and drinking like an adult. If lounges aren’t your thing yet, they will be one day, youngling, because standing is for suckers. So, submitted for your approval, for all that lounges offer and more, I humbly recommend Mercury Lounge.
There are a few places in town that make you feel like a big-city, upscale lounger. Mercury (located just three blocks south of Dodge on 16th Street) is one. Mercury reminds me that Omaha’s got something for everyone. There are sports bars with chicken wings and a dozen TVs on every other block, but occasionally, a person should prefer to dress up a tad and sip a whiskey.
Mercury was hopping the night I went in. I assumed it was the dinner and drinks crowd for the Orpheum Theater, but it was apparently just a regular Whiskey Wednesday, with half-price pours all night. Lucky for me, since I just missed the 4-to-6-p.m. happy hour.
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Not surprisingly, the service was excellent.
The atmosphere was clean and modern with a vintage feel — like being an extra in old movie, except in brilliant Technicolor. Ceiling fans, comfortable furniture and slightly ironic rap music rained down from overhead speakers.
Mercury has an amazing selection of food, whiskey, wine and spirits, where the Omaha cool can host their own Mercuralia.
I was lucky to get a bar seat. I enjoy watching bartenders work with the efficiency of the fleet-footed messenger of the gods, whether simply pouring a shot or making a Wildcat of passion fruit, aperol, fresh orange and bitters. Delicious.
Not many bars can make their ice a selling point, but Mercury has a Clinebell ice machine with single-direction freezing to produce flawless 300-pounds blocks of ice. They use a chainsaw, hacksaw and a chisel to carve ice cubes for your drinks. According to my friendly bartender, Sara, this is the only Clinebell between Denver and Minneapolis.
After that delicious Wildcat, a Granddaddy Low (Buffalo Trace bourbon, fresh lemon, amaretto and amaro) made for a great nightcap. If you dare drink more, plan on having a designated driver.
There are seven canned beers, notably Zywiec and Dogfish Head IPA, as well as a good selection of wines kept in the vault once belonging to Brodkey’s Jewelry. Classic.
Mercury continued to pack them in to three large lounge areas. There are also eight tables outside.
Sara informed me of an upcoming drink special series tentatively called “Astounding Tales,” featuring superhero-inspired drinks on a menu drawn by Omaha artist Tim Mayer. I’ll be back for that. Hope to see you there.