When Katie and I heard there was a speakeasy right here in Del Ray, we knew we had to investigate. The word “speakeasy” brings to mind images of glamour, intrigue, suspense — something new and exciting for our sleepy little neighborhood.
Through a mutual acquaintance, we tracked down Tim and Kari, the couple who run the Midget Inn, “Del Ray’s Signature Speakeasy.” We succeeded in getting ourselves invited as “press” and set off one night with my husband Matt for what would become a very interesting evening.
Tim and Kari provided the address and said ”look for the neon open sign.” (There really is a neon sign.) Such intrigue!
We tiptoed in with a bit of trepidation, but when we got inside, Kari welcomed us with open arms. It felt like a basement, but the coolest basement renovation you’d ever set foot in.
Kari escorted us to the bar to see the list of that night’s special cocktail choices. We pulled out our wallets to pay, but they insisted on treating us. No money changes hands in the pub. It’s not an officially licensed establishment, but something they do for the pure fun of it.
Drinks in hand, we relaxed, mingled, and took in our surroundings.
Tim loves to experiment with cocktail recipes. He often takes a classic recipe and plays with it or just makes up a different, humorous name and description for it. Some of the night’s specialities: “The Iron Lady,” “Kim Jong Un(believable),” and “The Crapo.”
Most of the night, you’ll find him manning the bar and topping off everyone’s drink. Some drank red wine, others grabbed beers from the frig in the other room.
When Tim and Kari purchased the house ten years ago, it came with a small bar off in the corner. Underwhelmed with the Del Ray bar scene, they decided to transform the basement into a fully-functioning pub.
The space is divided into two rooms. In the main room, there is the bar along with some bar stools and about three small tables. They modified the original bar by adding a red mosaic tiled counter and hired an electrician to install glowing pendant lights. They painted the concrete floor dark brown and the walls a rich mustard brown and kept the dropped ceiling and wood paneling on the walls.
Off to the side, there’s another room that they use for watching movies or for more casual seating.
They added the wall between the rooms with a cut out for a stained glass window from Potomac West. It’s a great feature that anyone could do in their basement, bar or no.
One major theme of the Midget Inn comes into focus: Pittsburgh. Tim’s uncle owned a bar in Pittsburgh (called the Midget Inn) that served as the model and inspiration for the space. Around the ledges along the ceiling, they display Tim’s collection of beer cans, a majority of them from the western PA and many from western NY (Buffalo and Rochester) breweries.
They filled one wall with framed black and white photos of famous people from the past century and vintage bar clocks and lights. The photos make for a great conversation piece.
It was hard to believe we were in someone’s home. People came and went in small groups throughout the night (mostly neighbors and local friends), but it never got either too quiet or too crowded, and the mood remained low key but festive. We were having a blast.