ALTHOUGH SAVANNAH’S newest local watering hole, Lone Wolf Lounge, opened only a few short weeks ago, it has had no shortage of business.
Even before I stopped by the retro-tiki inspired lounge, I heard from several locals that the place was packed most nights.
This should not come as a surprise considering the owners, Tom Worley and Andrew Ripley, have years of experience working in the local service industry.
Worley began his eight-year local bartending career at the Bayou Cafe, and Ripley spent his time at the Sparetime, Cotton & Rye, and the Andaz. In addition to bartending, both owners have a background in playing music.
- The Patient Zero
Being industry vets and seeing the ins-and-outs of running a bar caused the pair to begin discussing opening the bar several years before pulling the trigger on the Lincoln Street location.
As we sit at the bar chatting, Ripley tells me, “The idea was for us, although we worked with such great people around town, was to break free and do our own thing.”
“We got it zoned first before we even signed the lease,” Worley explains, detailing the the history of the Lounge attaining its approval for use of the building as a bar.
The building was once the home of an insurance office, but now houses a local joint that transports you back in time when you walk through the doors.
“We liked this spot because it was kind of a time capsule. Joseph Muller was in this building in the ‘70s, and when he closed shop they locked the building with all of its stuff in it. It sat here for decades,” Ripley says.
He describes his vision for the bar’s ambiance:
“I wanted to have a Milwaukee neighborhood grandpa-style bar, just very comfortable. The other part of it you see in here is that Savannah is part of the Caribbean, originally it was part of the ports and the Caribbean economy. I wanted that feeling, when you come in here, that you are relaxed and on vacation.”
- The Lone Wolfpack: Worley, Mack, and Ripley at the custom bar.
A beautiful U-shaped walnut wood bar sits in the middle of the room with a tower of high quality liquor sitting on the shelves behind it. The walls are covered in the original wood paneling along with some new palm leaf wallpaper and highly unique artwork.
Velvet curtains, leather, old lamps, and greenery are just some of the details incorporated into the space.
Ahron Mack, the builder of the Lone Wolf Lounge, constructed almost everything that can be found inside the joint. When he is not hammering away at the Lone Wolf Lounge, you can find Mack mixing drinks at Cotton and Rye.
When I ask about how they approached the menu, Ripley says, “I was trying to create a balanced menu that makes the best use of all of the stuff we have here.”
“Not everything we carry is like a magazine ad; we have really good stuff that you can get at a good price,” Ripley tells me.
I found the affordability interesting considering so many of the items used to mix their drinks are created by hand in-house, such as their grenadine, their tinctures, and their blends.
I was instantly drawn to The Glamorous Life because when seeking out tiki drink I feel that you cannot beat a straightforward, well-composed, classic daiquiri. The perfect version of this cocktail does not require a ton of frill or mixers, just a thoughtfully crafted mix. The Glamorous Life is just that, mixed properly to create a balanced drink anyone would love. Rum, lime, and sugar are the components used in the Lone Wolf Lounge’s recipe.
The Patient Zero is Ripley’s and Worley’s take on the tropical drink that is said to have started the tiki craze of the 1930s, Don the Beachcomber’s “The Zombie.”
The recipe for an original Zombie is said to use lime, rum, Grenadine, Angostura bitters, Pernod, grapefruit, and cinnamon.
- The Glamorous Life
The Lone Wolf Lounge makes this drink their own by adding banana, cardamom, almond, and the most important ingredient of all—rum. To be expected, it is served in a wooden tiki totem mug.
For those who want to feel like they are in affluent Malibu instead of our eclectic town, the Treating Objects Like Women should be your drink of choice. Served in a sleek tall glass tumbler, vodka, pomegranate grenadine, lime juice, orange juice, and ice make up this fruity yet refreshing drink.
You truly cannot select anything bad when choosing from The Lone Wolf Lounge’s House Cocktail list. And if you manage to drink through the entire thing, the (other) Cocktail list offers all of the usual tiki creations, such as a Pina Colada and a Hurricane.
The beer list is just as well rounded as the cocktail side of the menu, many of which are favorite beers of Worley and Ripley.
As Worley puts it, “if we don’t like to drink it, you probably are not going to find it on the menu.”
What might be surprising is the care the pair took in selecting the wines offered at the Lone Wolf Lounge. Every available option of fermented grape would make any sommelier proud.
The Lone Wolf should only grow from here. Ripley and Worley plan on adding pool tables, darts, and the like to additional space in the back.
The future of the Lounge is stacked full, considering they are currently only using half of the space. The remaining half will bring much more to patrons in the near future.
For now, Ripley and Worley are happy running an establishment that aims to bridge local businesses together by offering a hangout where everyone around town can come together and get to know one another, all of course at a reasonable price.