By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
The Marble Ring is a new speakeasy located at 430 41st Street South, Suite B in Avondale. It has no street entrance, as it is located on the same level with Hot Diggity Dog and above Fancy’s on Fifth. We park in Fancy’s lot and walk around the building to Hot Diggity Dog’s entrance. Here we take the stairs to the blue Police Phone Call Box. Inside there is a pay phone. I pick up the phone and am warmly greeted on the other end of the line by owner, Paget Pizitz. My name is my password. She buzzes us in and greets us inside.
The Marble Ring is the namesake of Zelda Fitzgerald’s famous line that she randomly said to others, “I hope you die in the Marble Ring.” No one knows what that meant. Perhaps it refers to the marble rotunda inside Montgomery’s Alabama Capitol Building, where she as a child played a game called The Marble Ring. Fitzgerald was an Alabama native, America’s first flapper, and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Inside crystal chandeliers dimly light the space, which is centered around a white Calacatta Vena D`Oro marble bar. The exposed brick and wallpapered walls are adorned with risqué art. Even the wallpaper itself is risqué—if you look closely. And there is an ornate, silver bathtub situated to the right of the bar. I must ask why and am told because it is beautiful and that it might be used as a prop for future burlesque dancing. Sitting areas along the side walls are separated by drapes that can be opened to combine spaces. Each space has its own oriental rug and unique furnishings of leather and velvet upholstery and tufted sofas and chairs in shades of crimson and gray, surrounding small tables for cocktails. Zane Place, the general manager, welcomes us and invites us to sit wherever we want. We choose the spot across from the bar with two wing back chairs in front of a fireplace mantle. Here our server dressed as a flapper takes our order and instructs us to pull the cord to get service, which lights up a bulb on a board behind the bar. Nice touch. There is also patio seating, weather permitting.
We order rounds of cocktails and sparkling wine. Witchy Woman cocktail is a tribute to the song of the same name, by the Eagles for which Fitzgerald was the inspiration. It is served in a highball, on the rocks with a lemon garnish. This smooth drink is bronze in color with a fizzy top and is a combo of Bulleit Bourbon, lemon juice, pineapple jalapeno syrup, Jerry Thomas Bitters, Absinthe, and ginger beer. The Marble Ring is served in a Champagne coupe with a lemon rind atop. It is caramel in color and boasts layers of Wild Turkey Rye, dry marsala, demerara syrup, and notes of orange and angostura bitters. The Hit and Run is named for Myrtle Wilson, who is run over in The Great Gatsby. It is clear in color and served in a lowball glass, on the rocks with a lemon garnish. This easy to sip drink is aptly named. July by the Sea is named for a letter from Fitzgerald in which she longs to spend July by the sea. The complex yet fruity drink is served in a stemless wine glass on crushed ice, and with a purple orchid garnish. It is golden in color with a creamy, frothy top, and is made of Havana Club Rum, Laird’s Applejack Brandy, Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey, Luxardo, and fresh lime juice. And the sparkling wine is a Graham Beck Rosé from South Africa. It is a generous pour and offers a lovely effervescence and notes of strawberries and raspberries.