Midtown Ultra Lounge
By Surafel Solomon, September 01, 2019
Sunday is a confusing day, and I am not the only one with this sentiment. It is a day to recuperate from the previous nights, but it is also the last day you have before the sun rises on your weekend that never seems to be enough. Sunday is not a day to waste. And not to waste the precious Sunday, we had already made plans to check out a new place. Midtown Ultra Lounge, which sits atop Boston Day Spa building located on the main Bole road, was chosen.
Walking in to Midtown, security opens this big door, and we are greeted by the small and eye-catching sculpture of a sensually reclined woman that is the centerpiece of a big table with views of the city as a backdrop. Mid volume lounging music seeps out of the speakers. The space oozes subtle decadence. There is an understated air of refinement that the interior design, fixtures and furniture add to the space. Plush leather sofas are placed in a non-crowding manner and the columns are used as tables for high chairs. The far wall that leads to the bathrooms is covered in a nautical map wallpaper, this little detail stood out because the interior design seems eclectic yet there’s something tying everything together so well that nothing seems out of place. This attention to detail permeates throughout everything they do.
We take our seats and go over the menu, and among the classic cocktails that I’m used to, one stands out from the cocktail menu. The Berberita, one of the bar’s signature cocktails and also a bestseller, is a mix of Berbere and a classic margarita with the rim dipped in a salt/Berbere mixture. This spicy cocktail packs one hell of a punch while exciting your palette, and you will be feeling the heat in no time. One of the beach reminiscent drinks served here, the Caribou Lou, a rum based sweet, light and fresh drink is perfect for kicking back and unwinding. The other sunny Miami iced tea is of the variations of the classic long island iced tea cocktail served here. With a tropical and fresh zing, it replaces the dark theme of its predecessor for a lighter blue color earning its namesake. But for someone that doesn’t like to combine sweetness to a strong drink, Boulevardier is my recommendation. It is a sweet, bitter and smooth yet strong cocktail that has three spirits as the base, body and perfume. With whiskey as the base spirit and Campari and a Vermouth as the body and perfume, it will be sure to get your frozen gears warmed up. The signature house cocktail, the Midtown Mojito, is a twist on the classic mojito with an infusion of fresh seasonal fruit juices and syrups giving it an ever changing and evolving taste. It being August, mangoes were in season and the homemade mango syrup gave the Mojito an unexpected complexity in taste.
We decide to have some food and start going over the menu, now some of you(If not all that read this) know that there are certain no go zones when it comes to eating while drinking, and some foods are just perfect bar foods. Midtown’s menu was the perfect lounge food menu I have seen in Ethiopia, everything on the menu is perfect nourishment while consuming alcohol. We decide to stick to foreign foods, but there is a variety of Ethiopian foods available like Kitfo, Chickena Tibs and Bozena shiro among others. We order the midtown sliders, chicken wings, steak tips and nachos. The food served at Midtown is prepared at The Kuriftu Diplomat restaurant, a place known for exquisite international (really, actually international, not just western) cuisine. The only way I can describe The Midtown Sliders is as miniature gourmet burgers. Among everything, the pickles and the beef were amazing.
The shots are made by customer request, the Mixmaster Josef does this based on what you feel like having, like a sweet gin shot, or a strong vodka based shot etc. But, since there is a lot of customers requesting shots, they are in the works of introducing a shot menu. Most popular shots are tequila based. The shots we tried were, of course, all tequila based, but they come layered and you would taste different things individually if you sipped them but when taken as a shot, the way it is meant to, the explosion of flavors that comes from the combination of ingredients in your mouth is amazing.
I notice the music has gotten more upbeat and considerably louder. As I notice Josef, I just had to ask how he thought up the Berberita cocktail and he tells me that his goal is to infuse more Ethiopian spices and flavors like korerima and berbere into classic cocktails. I try the Lavender Collins, a classic Tom Collins with a lavender syrup instead of the traditional simple syrup variation. It really engages your senses of smell and taste. And it is this sentiment and attention that I noticed going in that hit me. I ask Julian to explain more and he tells me that they cater to needs of their customers in every way they can, for example the bar is scented with essential oils (something I noticed subconsciously but didn’t register). It is the little things that leave an impression.
In comes the Espresso martini my last drink of the night. I read that it was created in ‘80s London, by cocktail legend Dick Bradsell. The story goes that a delightful young lady entered his bar and asked Dick to make her a drink that “wakes me up and then f#*ks me up”. As a drink it’s deliciously confusing – coffee and vodka simply shouldn’t be allowed to taste this good together, but they do. The liqueur has a wicked sweetness while the coffee gives it a rich depth, whilst the vodka delivers that necessary kick that lets you know you’re doing something naughty. It’s all finished off with the thick, luxurious, creamy froth that sits at the top of the glass. These amazing cocktails are available throughout the week with a Live Band on Monday’s (Jazz at Midtown) and Tuesdays (Midtown Unplugged, and with the rainy season almost over the Sunday (Sunset Sunday’s) is something to make a routine. I’d go further than recommend Midtown Ultra Lounge and tell anyone reading this that it is a must try thing. Go once and you’ll be finding reasons to go there again.