Since a city- and countywide ban snuffed out smoking in most businesses, there aren’t a lot of bars left encouraging patrons to light up. Double Apple Cafe & Hookah, which opened this year in midtown, is an exception.
After weeks of passing by the place, we decided to pay a visit on a recent Monday evening. Nightlife isn’t just for the weekend, after all. The bar’s exterior doesn’t call a lot of attention to itself. At first glance, its tinted windows and inconspicuous “open” sign made me question whether it was actually open.
But inside, the atmosphere is warm and inviting, especially in a cozy space toward the front, where a half-dozen college-age folks lounged on couches, enjoying drinks and hookahs. I took a seat at the unusually high bar, where I felt a little like Edith Ann. (Google it, kids.)
Double Apple doesn’t have a drink menu or any specialty cocktails, so I started with a vodka tonic ($4) while I browsed a list of more than 50 tobacco flavors. I’d never smoked a hookah before, so I had to request a tutorial when the kind bartender placed the tall device on the floor in front of me.
“Just don’t inhale,” he advised.
The flavored tobacco — I selected the bar’s namesake, Double Apple ($12) — had a delightful, soothing effect, and the fragrant, water-filtered smoke was much gentler than that of cigarettes. (I’m not ordinarily a smoker, so I woke the following morning with a very sultry voice.) There was enough tobacco in the pipe for two of us to enjoy for at least two hours, and the attentive bartender returned often to replenish the hot coals.
When a second bartender took a turn behind the bar, we asked her to recommend a shot. She obliged with something called a Backstreet Romeo ($6.50), a relatively simple mix of whiskey softened by a bit of Baileys Irish Cream.
Double Apple is a good, friendly addition to growing Midtown Alley — a slower-paced diversion from the loud, high-energy nightspots that surround it.