Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dirty Martini's Midlife Crisis

We gave the Dirty Martini (Novi) a second chance. We paid our $5 cover and stretched out our time there as best we could this past Thursday, but the results never got any better. The bottom line of this review is going to be that the Dirty Martini is a great place for thirty-somethings who feel out of place, be they man or woman. The details, however, will reveal that potential does exist in the space above Andiamo, but it takes a great deal of lively conversation and entertainment within your own group of friends. Here we go...

The Vibe Awards
The Dirty Martini shares the same entrance as the Second City crowd, found toward the back of Andiamo. It seems like a nice lounge, but I'm not too sure I like the layout. To get in, you walk up a bunch of stairs. On your right is a small bar with a limited amount of alcohol. To your left are more stairs leading to the dance floor, VIP area and main bar/seating areas. Stamped on the stairs are the phrases "Work Hard. Play Hard. Get Dirty." I'm sorry... but that is way too cheesy and way too sleazy for a lounge that is trying to be swanky. The level of lighting is fairly good, except that the lights themselves are extremely gaudy. Although, when you put the lights next to the super soft and comfy chairs at the bar, they almost work to give off a 1920's or 30's vibe. But please don't' read anything more into that statement, because nothing else at the Dirty Martini puts out that vibe- including the cheap Christmas stockings covering the bar. If there were other decorations inside this fairly large venue, the stockings might not be such a minus. In the end, this is just another case of a venue owner setting themselves up to run what could be a great jazz and cigar bar, but instead ends up running a cheap imitation of a trendy club. Fortunately, they paid attention to seating and you should never be left standing- unless you want to.

People Watching
The general female demographic consisted of women in their 30s. The male demographic was mid-20s to early 50s, with the curve topping out in the late 20s. There are only two reasons why a girl in her 20s would be seen here: 1) She was invited to a party -or- 2) Her friend suggested it and neither of them had been there before. The dynamics of these age groups lead to some interesting people watching. The older women and younger guys match up fairly fast. And the older guys and the younger women manage to find one another. The end result is a lot of uncoordinated, drunken dancing. As for the fashion, don't come out expecting to see anything cool. Women may dress up to go here, but they don't get all dolled up. In other words, they look good enough to get into any bar or club you can think of, but their attire isn't turning heads. As for the guys.... *sigh* 1 in 10 dressed fairly cool, while the other 9 must have all seen the sale on Wrangler jeans in the paper last Sunday. A handful had on suits, and a handful more had the usual striped, button up shirt or plain Banana Republic sweater.

Bartending Basics
Even if the main bar is crowded, it's pretty easy to get a drink fast. But stay away from any martinis that use olives. Because there's a good chance you either won't get them, or if you do, they'll be stale and mushy. When I first walked in, the first thing I saw were the two bartender girls doing shots with their guests. In combination with their cheap and sleazy red tank tops, it put a bad taste in my mouth. Am I in a sports bar? Not sure. In all fairness, these bartenders were much better than the lazy girl who worked the bar the night before. First off, they informed me that they do serve Black Cherry Effen (which I was told earlier they did not). They also throw as many cherries in the drink as your heart desires (in the case of drinks that use cherries). But best of all, I needn't flag them down and tell them what I wanted for my second drink. I waived. They looked. I pointed to my empty glass. They nodded. Thirty seconds later I had a drink in my hand and another $5 on my tab. Great service. I can't comment on the waitresses, but I do think their dresses were a bit too dressy for waitresses. Also, there's a good chance one of them went out on the dance floor with a guest. Not good.

Watch Your Step
There are a lot of steps at the Dirty Martini Lounge- A LOT; one set when you walk in, one set to get to the dance floor, another set to go from dance floor to the main bar, and ANOTHER set to get to the rest rooms. And if you're sitting at the main bar and want to go to the bathroom, you'll have to scale them all. To make matter words, there is some funky raised piece of wood at the top of the steps leading to the main bar. It's quite easy to stick and stumble. There is a unisex bathroom on the same "level" as the main bar, but ladies... I wouldn't advise it. Men can feel free to use it, but as always, make sure you roll up your jeans when you first walk in. There are a few other little things that could help raise the level at this bar, such as making the drink menu look better; picking it up I thought for a minute I was looking at the commencements from my 6th grade graduation, made from a copy machine loaded with that off-green colored paper.

The music on Thursday night is filled with typical 80s remixes, and the occasional Top 40. A handful of dance tracks are thrown in for good measure. There's also a guy who stands off to the side and plays the bongos. It wasn't bad music, but it wasn't anything special. The fact is the music is the number one culprit for killing any chance of having a chill out night at a lounge that has the visual appeal of a relaxing environment. We're guessing the VIP room was filled with the DJ's friends, but we're not sticking to that claim. It's just a guess.

There's nothing special about the Dirty Martini Lounge in Novi. Its target audience, or at least the people who end up staying, are all in their early-to-mid 30s, enjoy getting a little more than buzzed and dancing to the same beats the younger crowd listens to at every other bar in Detroit. The drink quality is alright, and prices aren't outrageous. There is also a wine/cigar list, but I'm far too unqualified to speak of them. Mixx Lounge and 5th Avenue have a similar "Novi" feel, and The Dirty Martini Lounge is no exception. Something tells me this place would be a really nice after dinner spot if the music was toned down... but of course, we'll never know.