For many of us, the bar/club experience usually involves straining to hear what a sloshed friend is saying while smiling and feigning comprehension as bad house-music blares on dull speakers. Enter candlelit lounge Shebeen. Not only does this place make boisterous talk audible, it also has quality sounds like progressive hip-hop, set-the-mood riddims, and even alternative rock for a mélange of twentysomething conversationalists dying for a little drunken tête-à-tête. Owned by two South African womenhence the name, which was used in South Africa to describe mixed-race speakeasies frequented during apartheidthe white-walled lounge has six wooden columns, two cream-colored sofas and a leather-bound table (for friends that want to chat en masse), and a long purple banquette with wooden tables and matching ottomans. The chill-out pad offers creative cocktails like a pulpy, melon-flavored cucumber sake martini (fresh cucumber, sake, Korean vodka, $9) and a lip-smackingly decadent banana mocha martini (banana puree, vodka, crème de banana, chocolate syrup, and chocolate rim, $9). As they're deceptively strong, you may want to savor these drinksespecially if you care to remember who said what the next morning.
photo: Tania Savayan
Bartender James creates an energy-boosting banana mocha martini.