Inga's Alpine Lounge, says owner Leigh Jones, "is our '60s and '70s version of a swinging kind of apres ski lounge, an over-the-top place where, if it were a lodge on a ski mountain, would have a fur bikini-clad female villain or vixen of the moment on the slopes skiing away from James Bond."
Inga's, which opened to the public on Friday, definitely feels like an alpine hideaway, and Inga -- that fictionally named, hourglass-figured snow bunny in a fur bikini -- even has her own mural, a black-and-white portrait that spreads across the wall on the sprawling patio, the entrance of which is through a pair of swinging cherry-red doors, red being the primary color that permeates the interior, a kitschy mix of rustic simplicity and retro elegance.
The curved, biscuit-hued booths were procured from the now-closed Morton's of Chicago in the Tech Center; the battle-scared hardwood floors look like they've been deliberately dented with the stomp of ski boots; tufted, brass-studded bar stools that swivel are proper perches for both vixens and villains; a dated jukebox blasts tunes that span generations (think Tom Jones to Vampire Weekend); an electric fireplace, the color of orange flames, hankers back to the Dick Van Dyke era; a separate lounge area is scattered with Mid-Century modern furnishings salvaged from used furniture stores; vividly painted metal blooms mimicking an alpine flower garden, the pieces of which were created by local metal-worker Sean Doherty, adorn both the interior and exterior; a huge caribou head -- his name is Blitzen -- is mounted over the entrance between the lounge and the bar; and there's a pool table, too.
But the biggest conversation piece is "Rendezvous Summit," a crescent-shaped hideaway booth, tucked into a corner on an elevated platform behind the bar. It's all but impossible to see from any vantage point in the dining area, and just like a gondola, when you have it all yourself, it's conducive to innocent indoor foreplay, like playing footsie. It's available, too, for private parties, playing board games (of which there are many), or just getting away from the crowds.
The bar, which seats 25, overlooks twelve tap handles, including a Breckenridge/Wynkoop custom-brewed beer called Inga's Fur Bikini lager -- yes, Inga has her own tap. Four-to-six additional taps will phase in during the next couple of months, all of which will be devoted to "smaller breweries and specialty beers," says Jones. And the bar encourages some risk-taking, too, in the form of a $2 mystery shot, the flavor of which is determined by how you roll the dice. "You toss the dice and whatever number it lands on refers to a bottle wrapped in a paper bag -- a bottle of Jameson, or maybe the newest flavor of violet-blue vodka, and that's the shot you get," explains Jones. The menu, which will be finalized on Saturday, the day of Inga's grand opening, will parade pizzas, salads and subs, says Jones, adding that the kitchen will also dish out the amazing fries she serves at Jonesy's EatBar.
In the months that follow, Jones, who co-owns Inga's with Margaret Moore and Jeremy Matzke, all of whom have ownership in Jonesy's, the Horseshoe Lounge and the Bar Car, will continue to capitalize on their new acquisition. "We're going to build up the existing outside bar for the summer, although it'll be more of a beer tub-and-margarita-machine-type bar for now," says Jones, adding that in the summer of 2015, she'll outfit it with more equipment. In the meantime the 1,500-square-foot plot, populated with tables and umbrellas, will be outfitted with a few hammocks, some lounge furniture and an area devoted to games like cornhole and darts. Outdoor diversions on Sunday Fun Day are in the works, too.
"We started this project around early January, began construction on March 3, and we're having our grand opening this Saturday, so that short schedule meant that everyone came together on really short notice and did their part," stresses Jones. "All of us business partners worked our asses off, our staff from all of our places really helped us do that last push to get open, and we want to thank our contractors, especially Derek Goodman at Urban Construction, because he built this place in less than a month," notes Jones. "Seriously, everyone was just incredible, and I can't thank them enough."
Inga's is open daily from 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. Here's a first peek at the space.
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