Drink Like Royalty at Montgomery’s Leroy Lounge
Pull up a barstool at Leroy Lounge and you could be sitting next to a legislator, an active airman or a college professor. The Montgomery bar’s reputation for solid drinks and a good time attracts a lively, eclectic crowd—even though it's tucked away down a nondescript alley like a speakeasy.
“We like the fact that we’re hidden and people have to find us,” co-owner Tyler Bell says. “I think it makes the experience more fun.”
Originally Leroy was just supposed to act as a waiting area for a nearby restaurant, which has the same owners. “Our Mexican restaurant is called El Rey, meaning ‘the king’ in Spanish,” Bell says. “In French, it’s ‘le roi.’ Leroy is a funny play on words.”
But Leroy quickly took on a life of its own in the Old Cloverdale neighborhood.
Past the twinkle lights in the covered seating area, the tiny bar’s less than 1,000 square feet brim with personality. The backlit marquee sign above the bar displays the rotating tap list in black and red plastic letters, and the bar is lit by fixtures of assorted shapes and styles.
Their 18 rotating taps are home to beers from all over the world. On one recent Saturday, Leroy was pouring a fig-based sour from Atlanta’s Orpheus Brewing and a Belgium Strong Dark Ale shipped in from across the Atlantic.
Their extensive house cocktail menu is split into categories such as tiki and juleps. The individual drinks take inspiration from the season and the bartenders’ drinking experiences and musical tastes.
Take Sun Burnt in Cabo, for example, which brings to mind sunscreen mistakes we’d rather forget. It’s a dark tropical treat, made with aged rum, almond syrup, pineapple and blood orange juices and served in a pint glass.
They also often feature new and unusual spirits and mixers. One such product is Hoodoo, a chicory liqueur made at Cathead Distillery in Mississippi. And the bar celebrates a range of events such as Tiki Week, Bastille Day and Mexican Independence Day with themed drink menus.
This wide array of drinking options means there’s something for everyone, says head bartender Shannon Thornton. The bartenders’ range also helps to build trust with inexperienced yet curious imbibers. For the beer snobs and cocktail aficionados who also frequent Leroy, the staff is purposefully trained to talk brew specs and the finer points of cocktail history.
While Bell says Leroy is just a bar, to Montgomery, it’s a lot more.
“Leroy is truly a public house,” Thornton says. “At any moment, someone is celebrating a promotion, mourning a loss or plotting to save our world. Everyone is equal in this shared space. At this point, we are becoming more polarized. People need to get out and stand next to one another. Let your guard down and have a conversation over a beer or a cocktail, and we can begin to understand that we are all sharing in similar dreams.”
Whether this bar is the ruler of the Montgomery scene or one of its crown jewels, long live the king. Long live Leroy!
Leroy Lounge, 2752 Boultier St., Montgomery.
LEROY'S QUICK GUIDE TO COCKTAIL CATEGORIES:
Shandies: light and refreshing beer cocktails
Collinses & Fizzes: tart and sparkling
Bucks: a.k.a. "mules"; highball-style cocktails featuring ginger sodas and citrus
Sours: a classic style that can include any cocktail featuring citrus juice
Tropical & Tiki: fruit-forward and usually very boozy
Smashes, Juleps & Muddles: smashes and juleps involve muddled mint, while muddles is a catch-all for muddled fruit
Duos, Trios & Originals: the original cocktails consisted of a base spirit, vermouth and maybe a sweetener or bitter; duos and trios are similar, but feature liqueurs instead of fortified wines or vermouths