Downtown’s New Speakeasy: The Pocket Is Open To The Public Until Sept. 13
In August 2018, I had the chance to check out downtown’s new speakeasy, The Pocket, for their preview night. I’m so glad I did. This place is snazzy.
The Pocket is located at 115 Union, in between 117 Prime steakhouse and the alley.
Starting on September 14th, The Pocket will only be open to members. So get over there while you can.
Update: Everyone is welcome to enter and enjoy food and drinks on the first level, and I highly encourage you to do that. The Pocket is open Wednesday through Saturday at 4 p.m.
Tailor’s Union & The Pocket
When you go, you’ll see a storefront called Tailor’s Union. Enter here. It feels like an upscale tailor’s shop or clothing store. You’ll want to dress up a bit for this bar, too. It just feels right. (Update: There’s a dress code. “Gentlemen may not wear hats, casual shorts, open-toed shoes, or athletic gear. Ladies may not wear athletic gear or excessively ripped clothing.”)
This faux storefront – along with the members-only part of the lounge – is the justification for calling it a speakeasy. A host will guide you through a heavy sliding door and around the corner. Now you’re in The Pocket.
I had no idea what to expect, so I was practically in shock at how nice and big it was. Wow! seemed to be the general consensus.
The Pocket has several components: the storefront (aka Tailor’s Union), an upstairs bar and lounge area, a downstairs bar, and a cigar bar. Upstairs is a brightly-lit, sleek modern space with a long bar on one side and intimate booths on the other. Towards the back, there’s a bit more space with white leather couches. Again, anyone can walk in and enjoy this space.
Members can access the lower level. When you walk downstairs, it’s much darker. It’s more what you imagine when you think speakeasy. It feels old and new at the same time – not surprising for a circa-1901 building that’s been heavily renovated. There’s another long bar, some high tops behind that, plus a spot for the band. Keep walking to the back, and there’s a smoking room and cigar lockers.
Side note/fun facts: The owner of the building, Tyrone Burroughs, renovated the upper floors of 115 Union in 2012. The residences there now (The Lofts at Union Alley) are fully occupied. Mr. Burroughs is also part owner of Rizzo’s Diner.
On preview night, the band Copacetic slid through blues, jazz, and Memphis soul numbers. I have a feeling they’re the house band, since their drum kit said “The Pocket”, and they fit the mood of the place precisely. The music did a lot to create an exclusive, old-school, grown person vibe.
The Pocket will offer ten signature drinks and five classic cocktails. These are your craft/artisan/fancy cocktails that are almost too pretty to drink, and most of these libations pack a punch. The cocktail program is curated by talented Memphis bartender Colby Jones (you can find him at South of Beale on a regular basis).
We tried several cocktails and they were all on point. They also offer wine. I saw zero beers, but they may have that later. It’s not a frosé or shooter kind of place, and that’s OK. We have lots of those.
The Pocket offers tapas only, meant to supplement your drinking or provide a snack rather than a sit-down meal. The menu is basic: beef sliders, mushroom sliders, crab cakes, BBQ eggrolls. But basic doesn’t mean bad. The beef slider and the crab cake were standouts, and the dessert – a bourbon and Bailey’s brownie – was appropriately decadent.
Chef Erica Bone comes in after years of experience working with some of Memphis’ favorite chefs, including Chef Michael Patrick of Rizzo’s. She told me that the current menu is meant to be simple, good gastropub fare; it will change seasonally and will increase in scope and interest as time goes on. Despite the insistence that it’s not a dinner spot, a few crab cakes and a slider or two might suffice for supper. Don’t tell them I said that.
Concept + Membership
Clearly, I was enamored with The Pocket. An historic yet modern space, fancy drinks, great music, a diverse crowd…and a concept different from anything else in town? It’s not for everyone, but I’m into it.
At Preview Night, I had the chance to chat with one of the establishment’s owners, who provided the background info I’ve peppered throughout this post. The Pocket is shrouded in secrecy a bit, so be open-minded when you go, as info may be subject to change.
After the initial public opening period, Tailor’s Union / The Pocket added a members-only component. If you want more info on becoming a member, head on in to the bar and they can provide you with details. It’s clear to me that this membership is for people who appreciate – and can afford – the finer things.
They’re going after a professional clientele, and the private club concept is something other cities offer, apparently. I’m just hoping they’ll have occasional public events so I can spend more time in the truly impressive space.
115 Union Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
Wed – Thu 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Fri – Sat 4 p.m. – ’til