Cabin Five bills itself as a "no-nonsense party bar that puts a premium on fun rather than worrying about velvet ropes". It's a lodge-themed club in the Club District that's been around for a few years now and owned by the same people behind The Fifth .
I recently stopped by on a Friday night at about 11pm. After walking down an alley, through a temporary chain structure, and paying $10 in cover, I finally arrived. By this time, the club was a prosopagnosic 's nightmare of blazers, plaid and tight dresses. While Cabin Five has no official dress code, the gentleman appeared to be die-hard readers of the J.Crew Winter catalogue while the ladies followed the Three H rule (heels, hair, Herve Leger ).
There was no cocktail list posted in plain sight, so I asked the bartender for their signature drink. She replied that they didn't have one, so I ordered a Purple Haze . It was sweet and delicious, as the drink usually is, but for $7, I was hoping for something with a little more punch.
While the drink situation is a little disappointing, the atmosphere at Cabin Five hits all the right marks. The bar's decor evokes all those fun memories of camp minus that hazing incident that left you colour-blind in one eye. The walls are covered in wood and the bust of a deer adorns the back of the bar.
There's a large television on one side of the bar, playing what could have been a movie about skiing but might have been a super long SUV commercial. There was a DJ spinning great music for dancing. My only complaint about the music is that it was so loud I had to repeat my drink order several times, resulting in at least 45 extra seconds of sobriety, a true travesty.
While Cabin Five's decor is fun and novel, they fall a bit short on executing the theme through the other aspects. There is great potential to carry on the cabinness through themed drinks, snowboarding music, maybe even a Button, Button game a la Go Ask Alice to elicit "cabin fever" among random patrons.
I would only return to Cabin Five if I was with those friends that get drunk and talk relentlessly about their problems, as the high volume of the music would shield me from their constant complaints about their impending bankruptcy and arranged marriages.
Otherwise, I would likely not shell out the extra money to go to Cabin Five and get drunk around people who are way more attractive than me, as I can do that for much cheaper on the subway or at work.
While I would agree that Cabin Five puts a premium on fun, I would amend their statement on being a "no-nonsense party bar" to read that it is a "small amount of nonsense party bar". In spite of its shortcomings, Cabin Five is still leaps and bounds ahead of its predecessors, Cabins One to Four.
Writing by Martha Stortz