Cherry Cola’s Rock n Rolla is a club as quirky as its rhyming mouthful of a name. It used to be more burlesque-based, but new owners Alex Vincenzi and Mark Murphy have revitalized it into a new home for the classic live rock shows it's been known to host over the years.
Vincenzi’s background is in the music industry, managing gigantic clubs like the Phoenix, so the last owner, Cherish Stevenson, still involved as a smaller partner, left it in his capable hands.
It’s a comfort to see them both behind the bar during a show, pulling their weight and enjoying it.
The space is a long, narrow hall lush with velvet, reds and blacks, old school decor like lamps and chandeliers dotted around the dim area.
As Vincenzi took over, he began booking acts with a definite retro appeal like illScarlett, who were playing the same old hits the night I visited to a surprisingly full crowd. This feels almost like it's paying homage to the height of the period during which alt rock bands played here.
He paired them with indie act Darenots, and since I was actually somewhat more into this first newer band, I hope he keeps this practice up.
Drinks are simple and cater to the rockabilly crowd, full of booze and excitedly pushed upon you, with names like The Lemmy and Purple Rain.
A basic “cherry cola” ($9) tops off its two ounces of vodka with cola and tops it with a maraschino cherry, served with plenty of ice in a tall glass for just a touch of dilution.
A paper plane ($13) is a classic that’s more on the barfly end of the spectrum and less on the high school mixed-drink side. This refreshing, boozy blend of aperol, amaro, bourbon and lemon juice packs a punch.
A bourbon sour ($11) combines the typical ingredients of bourbon with lemon and lime juice, simple syrup and bitters. The spices dusting the frothy top could be applied a little less liberally, that’s all.
When ownership changed over the same girls who dance burlesque kept their jobs, continuing to perform regularly on Sundays in the same illuminated recess in the ornately patterned wall.
Vincenzi and Murphy are gradually working in more rock shows on Saturdays and Sundays.
It’s a fairly crowded, messy, hot little place with one long bar near the back and a stage near the front, but it’s really serving its purpose in a town that can’t get enough of grungy clubs regularly booking live acts.