In the busy streets on Colorado Boulevard and Fair Oaks Avenue, lies an underground bar that successfully recreates an atmosphere of the dark ages during the medieval times. Rathskeller, a German word for a town hall basement bar, is the name of the tavern located under the German beer hall, Der Wolfskopf. Rathskeller has become a great location for many locals to enjoy some rare German brews and uniquely crafted specialty cocktails.
On a Thursday night, I took the time to explore this hidden bar and see what all the fuss was about. I did some research on this location but apparently there aren’t many pictures online of Rathskeller but a whole lot of Der Wolfskopf.
This made it even more amusing since I didn’t have an idea of what it would look like. Entering Rathskeller, I noticed the darkness in every corner of the bar; the gothic, yet vibrant murals all around were attention grabbers.
“I think what I really like about this bar is the mural. That’s the first thing that hit me when I came down the steps,” Melissa Gomez, a first time visitor said. Gomez was also curious about the underground bar, because she was only familiar with Der Wolfskopf and another bar, The Blind Donkey.
“I prefer bars over clubs now and this bar has the same low key attitude, but without the stiffness of some other craft beer spots. You can still get loud and comfortable with your friends or the person next to you and not feel out of place,” Gomez said.
Brian Atkins, an actor and producer from Texas has been to Rathskellers a couple of times, but loves the bar, the decor and the service.
“The artwork on the walls is done by an artist who worked on the concept art with Guillermo Del Toro on his movies Pans Labyrinth and Hell Boy,” Atkins said. The murals really gave the whole place character. As spooky as they may seem, the environment was very relaxed.
“I like that it’s hidden under another bar. It feels like a dirty little secret. You almost feel trapped, surrounded by the brick, artwork and wood, but it’s comforting in its suppressiveness like a warm hug that isn’t oppressive,” said Atkins.
When I ask what drinks are his favorite and if he has any recommendations, Atkins quickly responds with “The Aviation,” a light green drink that was made by a previous bartender and their most popular drink.
The Aviation had a smooth, sweet and sour taste to it with a combination of gin, violet and green liqueur with lime. Refreshing for the summer nights. The beer, Kostritzer Schwarzbier, was a delicious dark beer with a rich flavor to it. This beer was my personal favorite out of the two drinks. The prices of the drinks were not too bad. I payed about $15 for a foreign beer and a fine cocktail drink.
Even though the bar had a dark look to it, the vibe was actually a lot more lively than what it would be expected. For the small amount of space, they managed to squeeze in a pianist and a band to perform in the bar. Pianist Ravi Woods, who goes by the name of “Bobby” has been playing funk jazz music every Thursday night for the last four weeks. Born in Colombia, Woods further developed his music in New Orleans and came to California to continue performing live. He claims to play “Jazz with a Colombian accent.”
“I’ve been coming here to Rathskeller for two to three years and I saved up money to buy a piano in order to play here. I kept asking the owners to let me play and they finally allowed me to play once I told them I bought a piano,” said Woods.
According to Woods, sales have been higher on the nights he plays. Bringing in some live music to a bar always helps.
“Playing here has been fantastic, I’ve been meeting a lot of people and they stay longer. They enjoy the music and the sales go up. People enjoy the music a lot,” Woods said.
In Rathskeller, food isn’t served or allowed from upstairs. It’s just a straight up bar with a lot of character. What makes this place even more attractive is the simple fact that they only open three days out of the week, from Thursday to Saturday. The service was good, I was being attended to every so often and everyone around was just in a nice social mood.
I give Rathskeller a 4 out of 5. For my first time, it sure did leave a great impression to me. I would just prefer there be food to really make me enjoy it in all the simple pleasures. Overall, I truly enjoyed my first time at Rathskeller. I would definitely recommend any Lancer students to take a trip to the tavern on a Thursday night, purchase a Kostritzer Schwarzbier and enjoy some Colombian Jazz Funk.
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