Jackson County

A bookcase is a hidden door at this new speakeasy-inspired cocktail bar in Ocean Springs

The speakeasy trend has officially hit the Mississippi Coast.

Ocean Springs has joined other cities across the country who have seen new Prohibition-era bars open with hidden or secret entrances.

Push on a bookcase inside The Roost Boutique Hotel and — in legendary fashion — it swings open to reveal a two-room speakeasy.

It’s called The Wilbur and it’s opening Aug. 1, said co-owner Joe Cloyd.

The hidden bar is in what was the check-in area for the hotel, which was built in April 2017 and has already expanded from 6 to 11 guest suites.

Between the speakeasy, the bar and shaded outdoor tables, The Wilbur will have seating for 60 people, said Cloyd.

The hotel can be booked for weddings and corporate events, and people have suggested the area concealed behind the bar could be a private club, said Seth Braden, owner of Eat Drink Love catering and restaurant at The Roost and a partner in The Wilbur. While the bar space can be divided for a party, he said, the owners wanted to share it.

The location at 604 Porter Ave. makes The Roost walkable to the beach and to downtown Ocean Springs for guests. For residents of the area who want to wander in for a craft cocktail or a glass of Dom Perignon champagne by the glass, “It’s a great place for a nightcap,” Braden said.

Those who have never splurged on a bottle of the classic Dom Perignon will be able to get their first “bucket list” taste at a much more affordable price of about $25 a glass, said Braden. He is mixologist at the new bar and worked for a Michelin-star chef before opening Eat Drink Love.

The bourbon and rum selections at The Wilbur will be among the best on the Coast, he said, and flights of whiskey, rum and tequila will let people taste some of each.

“We’ll have an amazing wine selection,” he said, along with seasonal beers and craft cocktails that add a twist to traditional cocktails.

Small bites, tapas, burgers and salads also will be available Tuesday through Saturday.

The Wilbur isn’t named for the talking horse of the 1960s television show “Mr. Ed,” as some suggested on social media, but for the Wilbur Hotel & Motor Court that operated at the site during the same era.

“The Roost is the third hotel at this property,” Cloyd said. It was built in 1894, and wood from the original structure was planed and re-purposed throughout the hotel rooms and the new bar to give them character.

The property is filled with mid-century modern furnishings, again with a twist, he said.

“We have so many uses mixed in this building,” Cloyd said. Now that it has the bar in addition to a restaurant and lodging, “It’s a full fledged boutique hotel,” he said.

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