By Lil Nickelson
When I was a kid growing up in the Sugar Hill section of Harlem, Saturday evening was date night for my parents and they would go out to eat at Sherman’s BBQ on the corner of our block on Amsterdam Avenue and 151st Street or down to Broadway and 145th Street to Ling Fong’s Chinese Restaurant for dinner. After dinner they would hang out with their friends at The Lido Bar on the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and 150th Street.
Other bar lounges in our neighborhood was The Goldbrick Inn, The Bell, Cook & Candle, The Palm Tree, and Mr. T’s Bar, The Oasis, The Blue Book or The Mark IV. A couple of my friend’s parents were bartenders and bar maids in these local spots; one of my female elder friends even owned El Patio, a popular bar on 8th Avenue and 142nd Street. I know I’m dating myself, but I know some of you have heard of or visited these bar lounges too.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s in Harlem my friends and I would joke about how there was a church, a bar and a liquor store on every block. Then cocaine and heroin became the “get high” preferences of the young during the late 1960s and the bar lounges started closing up one by one. And then there crack and the bar scene dried up completely.
I’m happy to report that Gin Fizz Lounge is leading the way to a return of bar lounges in Harlem on the uptown side of 125th Street. Now I know that other bar lounges that previously existed in Harlem before them. However, most of those are in between 110th Street and 125th Street, they serve food as well and there is no dress code. Gin Fizz is for folks looking to get dressed up in their chic elegant best attire to drink, dance and socialize.
Gin Fizz Lounge is located on the 2nd floor at 308 Lenox Avenue in between 125th and 126th Streets over Chez Lucienne Restaurant and is open on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings from 8pm until 4am. The lounge’s name is etched in the glass windows and is visible to you from the street. There is extra lighting around the glass to help display the name and that something is happening upstairs too. The décor sets the right mood with the little lamps with shades on round tables and dimmed lighting throughout the lounge. It reminds me of someplace people go to be intimate and enjoy each other’s company; not to be on display with bright lights.
David, the owner of Gin Fizz is a handsome, hip young man of Egyptian & French heritage that has created a swank, sexy lounge for people of ages and backgrounds to dress to impress and have fun at after you’ve dined out elsewhere first. On the night we visited we dined at Chez Lucienne first and then went upstairs where DJ Antoine DeBrill was jamming, mixing house music from the 1970s and 1980s designed to make you want to dance. David has assembled a very capable staff which is led by its manager, Terrence a very friendly and charming man, Devin a stunning 6’ 2” tall woman and Denise our very attentive and helpful hostess that evening.
Gin Fizz took me back to my college years and after when we went downtown to 28th Street and ride the elevator up to the second floor to Club Collibron (which later changed its name to the Second Floor) to drink Collibron Specials and dance or to the Village to Paradise Garage to just dance the night away.
I went to Gin Fizz with one of my hanging buddies from those days, Carolyn Jackson and we were sipping our drinks and grooving to the music. I was amazed at how we still knew all of the words to the songs. I was sitting thinking how I would love to get my neighborhood and college friends together to enjoy an evening at Gin Fizz when warmer weather is upon us; I know that they would enjoy getting dressed up for drinks and partied there too. You need to check Gin Fizz out.