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Houston's New Burlesque Bar

Downtown Houston's getting its own burlesque bar — and sexy dancing's only part of new massive complex

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Prohibition downtown interior
A look inside the new supper club at Prohibition. Photo by Eric Sandler
Prohibition downtown interior
The front part of the space will feature a larger bar that serves lunch and dinner six days per week. Photo by Eric Sandler
Prohibition downtown interior
These wall details date to the turn of the century Isis theater.  Photo by Eric Sandler
Prohibition downtown interior
How about that chandelier? Photo by Eric Sandler
Prohibition downtown interior
Prohibition downtown interior
Prohibition downtown interior
Prohibition downtown interior

Downtown's bar boom has resulted in several concepts that pour great drinks, but not much in the way of entertainment. While Barringer Bar offers the occasional live music or DJ, an opportunity exists for a concept that's more of a destination.

Enter Prohibition. When the Galleria cocktail bar closed in December, the owners made it known the bar would be moving to Prairie Street at a later date, but didn't offer much in the way of specifics. With construction underway and an opening on target for the next couple of months, owner Anh Mai and recently hired consultant Sharif Al-Amin, formerly of Philippe, led CultureMap on a private tour to provide some details of how the bar will utilize all of the massive 15,000 square-foot space.

The plan, essentially, is to divide the huge space into at least three different venues that each has its own look and menu. Up front, Prohibition will remain a bar and restaurant that serves lunch and dinner six days a week. With four wells drinks, Al-Amin emphasizes the bar's focus will be on serving customers quickly. A raw bar program will supplement the menu's offerings and work by local artists will adorn the walls.

 A 24-foot long, 28-foot tall stage will provide the ability for dancers to perform aerial acrobatics as well as more conventional routines.   

More than the bar, it's the ballroom space behind it that will serve as Prohibition's new signature. The room will house a supper club and provide a home to the Moonlight Dolls burlesque troop. A 24-foot long, 28-foot tall stage will provide the ability for dancers to perform aerial acrobatics as well as more conventional routines. 

As for the food, co-owner Anh Mai describes a "nostalgic and decadent" prix fixe supper club menu that's built around seafood. Choices will change frequently. Mai and Al-Amin are currently interviewing chefs to develop the menus for both spaces. They're looking for someone who's up and coming and eager to make a name for him or herself, which shouldn't be too difficult to find in Houston.  

Mai estimates 30 to 45 days before Prohibition is ready and 45 to 60 days before the Supper Club launches. In restaurant terms, that probably means August and October, but fingers crossed they're both ready more quickly.  

Plans for the basement, which once housed The Mercury Room, are still in the planning stages. Mai seems certain it will contain a beer garden in some fashion, but the food, decor and cocktails haven't been nailed down yet. Regardless of what direction they choose, one guiding principle will govern their decisions.

"We want to have fun with it," Al-Amin says. 

In the meantime, the Moonlight Dolls are performing every Saturday night at 11:30 in an adjacent space at 1000 Prairie (doors open at 10:30). On this past Saturday, a mix of couples, groups and one bachelorette party filled the room to take in the show that's more sexy and fun than erotic.

Of course, a few cocktails from longtime Prohibition beverage director Blake Jorgensen help people get into the proper mood. Tickets ($10) or a table for future Saturday night shows are available online.

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