One block east of the Mississippi in downtown Baton Rouge, The River Room offers a laid-back, grown-up atmosphere where you can enjoy standard or signature cocktails, wine or choose from an extensive whiskey list.
The setting and feel of the relatively new bar is key.
Conversation came easy as we sat comfortably on one of the eclectic sofas and chairs grouped around a coffee table on an area rug. The lighting was especially glowing during sunset, and we all remarked on the excellent tunes played at just the right volume.
The River Room feels like a good spot to start your night or end a long day.
The bar itself faces a wall of exposed bricks lined with shelves of liquor bottles and two muted televisions. Cool blue lighting pops from underneath the bar.
The bartender was attentive but not pushy. We felt comfortable lingering and talking long after the drinks were gone.
Ready to order, we found the menu described the specialty and signature cocktails well with the prices listed at the top. But the long list of whiskeys offered no explanation for the unacquainted. There were also no prices, which made us reluctant to try something new in fear of getting stuck with something we didn’t like, especially if they were more expensive choices.
Our waitress, though pleasant and efficient, did not seem very knowledgeable about the selections.
When one of our friends, a whiskey drinker, was unsure what to order, it would have been nice if she could have questioned him about his likes and steered him to an enjoyable new find. Instead, both whiskey drinkers stayed with safe bets.
We started with a Glenlivet flight ($25), which let us compare the 15-, 16- and 18-year-old popular single-malt scotches. We added the 12-year-old ($12) to consider all four.
It was fun to compare the vast differences in the nose, color and smoothness of the scotch as we tasted them in order from the youngest to the oldest.
A flight is a fun idea for people who are unfamiliar with scotch. One person in our group wasn’t a huge fan of the whiskey, but enjoyed the golden smooth 18-year-old Glenlivet.
After our shared taste test, she ordered a Pimms Cup ($10) and loved the refreshing mix of cucumber and citrus. We also gave a personal favorite, a French 75 ($10), a try. The sparkling wine and gin drink well met our expectations.
Our whiskey drinkers both chose Kentucky bourbons, one a Bulleit ($8) because he likes the high rye content. The other chose a Jefferson Ocean ($14), which ages as it crosses the sea. He found the large distilled ice cube very appropriate.
We also checked out the patio for awhile enjoying the music in the night air and found the space cozy and likeable.
The River Room has transformed the old Red Star space with light and decor. It’s a grown-up place to enjoy a drink, not the dark rock ’n’ roll bar that Laurel Street used to house.
The River Room is quite a different place, but I don’t mind that.