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Unique cocktail bar opening in Red Beard Café basement in Kamloops

A cocktail at Nigel's Cocktail Bar, a new bar in Kamloops, taken March 29, 2022.
A cocktail at Nigel's Cocktail Bar, a new bar in Kamloops, taken March 29, 2022.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Mitch Forgie

A Kamloops version of a speakeasy bar is opening this weekend, the first of its kind in the city.

Speakeasy bars rose to prominence under prohibition, where they were hidden in dark places and kept secret to avoid law enforcement.

Owner of Red Beard café, Mitch Forgie turned the café’s basement into a modern style of speakeasy cocktail bar. The idea came years ago and the process to opening has had a few delays, but the unique new space is welcoming customers this weekend, April 2.

“We are not playing at the speakeasy aspect as far as being old-timey,” Forgie said. “This is a dark but loud and modern space where we’ll play stuff like hip-hop, not ragtime.”

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The new bar is called Nigel's Cocktail Bar, named after Forgie’s wife’s fish that died and was buried under a basement slab when the plumbing was going in.

“The menu reads ‘Nigel is under your feet’ and gives no further explanation,” Forgie said.

The space seats 26 people with tables for two, four and six. The first two months will be a bit of an experiment to see what interest is shown, starting with opening every second Saturday.

“These little bars are popular in big cities but I don’t know that Kamloops is ready for it seven nights per week,” Forgie said. “We have the space already so there is no risk in giving it a go. It is an organic growth, not super planned, and it is most important that the product is good, however things unfold.”

Staff at Nigel
Staff at Nigel's Cocktail Bar in Kamloops, practicing for opening night, taken March. 29, 2022.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/ Mitch Forgie

The menu is limited but tasty, offering up filling comfort foods like artisanal hot dogs, tater tots and burgers, with lava cake for dessert.

“Food is definitely happening,” Forgie said. “In modern times people just don’t go out and drink without food.”

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Forgie got the idea for the speakeasy when he was travelling with his wife in London, England years ago. He knew right away he wanted to replicate the idea in Kamloops.

“The cocktail bar was in the basement of a discount suit company,” he said. “We walked through dark hallways and into this awesome place. Ever since, we've searched out small holes in the wall everywhere we travel.”

Opening night is coming soon and the spaces have already been filled, but there will be a wait list option available. For now the public can watch for opening dates and times on Nigel's Instagram account, and learn how to get a spot.

“Over a hundred people tried for a spot already,” Forgie said. “I’ll have to streamline the technology used for reservations. We will be open for walk-in guests after reserved guests are leaving, so after 9:30 p.m., so customers can have fun at Red Beard Café upstairs while they wait or we will text when a table becomes available.”

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