The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Chuck’s BARbershop

An opening date is expected in mid-February. Visit the website or Facebook page, or call for updates.
Where: 90 Low Ave., Concord
Anticipated hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Closed on Sunday and Monday.
Visit: or, or call 856-7071

Secret speakeasy
New Prohibition-inspired bar to open in Concord

By Matt Ingersoll

 A new bar designed to emulate the secretly-accessed drinking establishments that became popular in the era of Prohibition is set to open in a tucked away corner of Concord’s Eagle Square later this month. If you turn south on Low Avenue and see the small barber’s pole propped against a brick building, you’ll know you’ve found the new speakeasy.

Chuck’s BARbershop — the third 1920s-era speakeasy to come to the Granite State and the very first in the Capital City — is accessed through an actual functioning barbershop. After about a year of renovations, the goal is to have it up and running by mid-February, according to owner Liu Vaine.
The other two “secret” bars in New Hampshire are 815 Cocktails and Provisions in Manchester and CodeX Books. Antiques. Rarities. (B.A.R) in Nashua, and Vaine helped build those two as well. He said  he was inspired by several speakeasies in New York City.
“Before I even started building these bars, I went to New York and checked out all the speakeasies there, and I was mostly interested in the drink itself,” Vaine, a longtime Concord-area bartender, said. “Watching these guys building drinks just like they did in the 1920s and ’30s was inspiring. … They were using ingredients that they made themselves, basically, as opposed to something you just pour from a bottle into a glass … and you can taste the quality. I just felt like we could do that in New Hampshire.”
Like the other two speakeasies in the state, this one will be hidden behind a facade. When you walk through the front door, simply look for an old rotary dial telephone propped up immediately to your left. Vaine said you must dial a certain four-digit number in order to be let in; clues on what number to dial will be posted on the bar’s Facebook page, but if you can’t figure it out, the barber in the lobby will be there to help.
“We actually had the phones rigged so that dialing the one on the outside will cause an LED light to flash on the inside … so [the hostess or stewardess] knows someone is at the door,” Vaine said.
The interior of the bar is filled with period furniture and décor, meant to combine elements of Prohibition and old barbershops, such as razors displayed on the walls and other barbershop paraphernalia.
Even the food and drink menus will carry this theme. James Bolton, former sous chef at CodeX, is coming to Chuck’s to work as head chef.
Some of the options you might find on the appetizers menu — or “A Short Trim” — include house-made pretzels with a rotating craft beer cheese, black truffle arancini with Parmesan cheese, roasted tomato sauce and Panko breading, and house cut fries with Parmesan, fresh herbs and house-made ketchup.
The entree menu, with themes like “Keep It Long” and “High and Tight,” will have options like a boneless pork chop with a creamy apple bacon risotto, chicken pesto macaroni and cheese with buttered herb bread crumbs, a meatloaf burger with honey Dijon barbecue sauce, crispy fried onions and cheddar cheese, and a turkey pesto sandwich with mozzarella, arugula and chipotle sour cream, among others.
Finish your meal off with dessert — a “Quick Shave” — like freshly baked cookies and milk, coffee and caramel crème brulee, or lemon rosemary sorbet.
For drinks, Vaine said the most important rule of thumb for all of his bartenders is that they can make any kind of signature drink, just as long as it was something that could have been created in the 1920s.
“We’ve been training [our bartenders] at CodeX for the last month,” he said. “On the craft drink side here, we’re going to do all the classics, like the Moscow mule, the French 75 and the gin fizz. These are all old-school classic drinks that they had in the ‘20s … and then eventually, we’ll throw in our signature drinks. … So I mean, for example, we’ve done an espresso martini where we soak coffee beans for maybe about a month and let it just infuse … and then we take an egg white to give it that frothy feel to it.”
As for the name, Vaine said it’s a tribute to his late bartender friend Chuck Frederick Nutting, who died about four years ago.
“Chuck and I … worked together at Smokey Bones [in Concord] and then at The Draft for many years and we became really, really good friends,” he said. “He taught me how to be a bartender, not really just how to make a drink, but how to interact with people and have that personality. … So after he died, I said to myself, ‘I’m going to come back to Concord, build a place, call it Chuck’s and that will be my tribute to him.’ Because I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for him.”
The brick building housing the bar had been vacant for about 15 years, according to Vaine. While the main area of Chuck’s is near its completion, a downstairs whiskey bar and a rooftop deck will likely be added to the mix by the summer. 

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