By Alysa Levi-D’Ancona
If you’re seeing double, it’s not because you’ve had one too many martinis! You might’ve passed Déjà Vu Martini Lounge on your way down the Ave, but while the lounge has all the Great Gatsby pizzazz of an earlier era, the entertainment is way ahead of its time.
Déjà Vu thrives entirely by revisiting the old with the new. Amidst a sea of sports bars, beer, and dance clubs, the lounge offers an upscale option for the professional drinker and those looking for live entertainment. James and Sandra Busch opened the joint in 2001, and Kelly and Jen Koroll took it over in 2007, adding a cozy, high-class twist to the bar. With the new management came new cocktails, such as the cinnamon roll martini, but they would never toss those crowd favorites that had been around since the opening.
“Our martinis have a retro throwback vibe,” Kelly Koroll explained, as the staff is responsible for the array of martinis at your fingertips.
“We have some of the same recipes from day one, some tweaked to get them just right, some reinvented entirely, and some featured martinis to experiment with new liquors.”
Though Déjà Vu can whip up your go-to cocktail in a jiffy, the hottest – and tastiest – items on the menu fall under their extensive martini menu. Crowd favorites include the bada bling, a refined mix of fruity flavors; twisted chocolate, a cocoa-y blend that practically tastes like dessert; and Koroll’s preference, the extremely dirty martini, a salty concoction of olives, vermouth, and vodka or gin (but don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!).
In short, Déjà Vu has enough martini options that even James Bond wouldn’t have to choose between shaken and stirred – though we all know his preference by heart.
Speaking of 007, there’s no doubt he would be a fan of the jazzy atmosphere of happy hour. Four to five nights a week, Déjà Vu features live and themed music: with open mic night hosted by Phil from Mr. Tallpants and the Shorts as well as Nicole Rae from The
Traveling Suitcase on Mondays; live band karaoke led by Stump: The Band on Tuesdays; funk night on Wednesdays; acoustic night on Thursdays; and live bands playing anything from rock to blues to jazz on weekend nights.
Perhaps the most talked about of the many music opportunities is
Tuesday’s live band karaoke. Back in 2009, the Korolls decided to add a unique twist on karaoke that’s rare for the area; patrons could sing any of their favorite songs, but musicians, rather than a recording, would accompany them onstage. The idea worked, mainly because of the quality of musicians in the Fox Valley.
Stump: The Band has switched members in and out over since 2009, but this fifth version of the group has been playing together for the last two-and-a-half years, and Koroll says they’ve never been better. Not only are they outstanding at improvising with their instruments, but the only time they ever play together falls on Tuesday nights at Déjà Vu, and they can knock a new song out of the park on the spot.
“There are always some great singers who can belt out a tune, and there are people who are so nervous and it’s amazing to get to see them go up an front a live band,” Koroll beamed. “The live band can help out the singer.”
Well, we might never find out whether our favorite martini-drinking agent would belt Frank Sinatra or give into the deep lyrics of Carly Rae Jepsen, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out!
Déjà Vu Martini Lounge is open weekdays 5:00pm to close, Friday and Saturday 5:00pm to 2:30am, with happy hour daily from 5:00- 7:00pm. Closed Sundays for the summer. For more information, call 920-731-0171.