Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Speak easy, rock hard

Posted on Wed, May 6, 2009 at 4:00 AM

Release Date: 2009-05-06

Jacob Larkey’s much-admired Cigar Club is back, reincarnated as the Gatsby. It’s still run by the same team, but the place has received a major makeover. Located near the intersection of Highway 281 and Loop 1604, the club has been transformed from a smoking den with live music into a high-end music venue with a broader
appeal.

The new name, of course, refers to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic jazz-age fable, and while the music leans toward rock and electronica, the signature martini list conjures some of that Roaring Twenties vibe, albeit with 21st-century flavors: appletinis, pomegranate martinis, chocolate martinis, lemon drops, and more. They run from $8 to $10, but these are strong drinks, so you get bang for your buck. There’s a decent bottled-beer selection, too. Most regularly go for $4, but specials such as $2 beer Tuesdays and $3 whiskey Wednesdays make for very affordable nights out.

Proprietor Jacob Larkey says his goal with the revamp was to create the kind of club that he wants to hang out in, which means the Gatsby is a non-smoking venue, although puffers can use the patio out front. The old humidor room is still intact, and now serves as a second bar, one where you can chat at a normal level without having to raise your voice to talk over the music. Miniature bamboo plants add a little feng shui.

Gatsby’s mansion parties were always brightly lit and so is Larkey’s Gatsby, providing a festive vibe. Larkey says the club, which just re-opened on April 24, is still in beta mode, but it’s open seven days a week from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. The bartenders are sharply dressed and so is much of the clientele on a Saturday night. The place has a classy vibe, but there’s no official dress code, so you’re not out of place in jeans and a retro T-shirt, either. Plush couches in the back provide a comfy space for lounging.

The dance area by the stage is somewhat smallish, but the sound system doesn’t overwhelm the room like at some clubs. More DJs than bands are booked at the moment, but Larkey says he’s planning to build out the schedule in an attempt to become a go-to club for live music in San Antonio.

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