Secrets of the Speakeasy at the Blind Elephant

If you happen to wander down one of the dimly lit alleys amongst the old buildings of historic Wilmington, you may stumble upon a non-descript door that hides one of Wilmington’s best-kept secrets, The Blind Elephant. Its obscurity is by design, fashioned after the speakeasies of the Prohibition era and, as in those days, follow the sign with the blind animal to a secret you will be happy to discover. 

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As you enter the thick metal door, you are transported to the by-gone era of gangsters, bootleggers, and government raids, where jazz tunes flow from local musicians and black & white movies are cast on the exposed brick walls. Recently receiving the accolades of Great Bourbon Bar of America, owner Ashley Tipper boasts quite the impressive collection of bourbons, from Masterson’s Rye to their own in-house barrel aged cocktail bases, proudly displayed on the salvage wood wall behind the bar. But if bourbon isn’t your thing, don’t fret; the talent of her bartenders extends greatly past that. The Blind Elephant has a rotating list of Elixirs, concocted, tweaked, and approved by the staff that will tickle your taste buds. We recently asked bar manager, Curtis Huff to share a few of the many drinks they had in store for the fall season.

We started with the B&E, a returning hit, featuring a muddle of harvest apples, mint, and maple syrup blended with Jim Beam Rye Whiskey and topped with Stella’s new Cidre Beer. The rye of the whiskey and the fizz of the cider beautifully combine to cut the sweetness of the syrup, tingling on the tongue and lingering on the finish. With thoughts of pancakes, snow, and crisp Vermont mornings in my head, I happily sipped while Curtis mixed up our next surprise. I could smell the exotic Indian spice across the bar as he opened the jar of infused homemade simple syrup, which would prove to be the secret ingredient that really set his next creation apart. To this odoriferous delight he added Myers Dark Rum, ginger beer and lemon juice, garnished with black peppercorns afloat a thin slice of lime. Crowned the Maharaja, this was our favorite, sporting ginger and spice and everything nice. I’ll pass on the season’s plethora of pumpkin drinks; this is my new fall cocktail of choice!

To finish us off on a refreshing note, Huff crafted us a favorite of his own, the Big Brown. Lush juicy blackberry and fresh mint smash, brown sugar simple syrup, and smooth Buffalo Trace Bourbon intertwine into a true palate pleaser. Self-described as a mint julep gone bold, this libation was no shrinking violet, holding its own in a field of fall flavors. As we finished up our flight, Curtis and Ashley bounced around ideas to showcase an anticipated addition to their liquor lineup. New to the market, Cathead Pecan Vodka is not any ordinary flavored vodka. Crafted in Mississippi’s first legal still, local roasted pecans are added to the aging process resulting in an all-natural flavored spirit of the highest ilk. I can’t wait to see what these talented mixologists have up their sleeve!

Don’t miss this hidden gem behind Front Street’s hustle and bustle. Sneak down the dark alley between Port City Java and Front Street Brewery to The Blind Elephant and explore the secret of the speakeasy. You’ll jump and jive for this revival of an oft forgotten craft. Cheers!

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