Hanson's Shoe Repair is a bar in downtown Orlando that has some very particular rules when it comes to attendance. Prospective patrons must call the speakeasy-themed bar between the hours of 1pm-7pm and listen to a recorded message that has the night's password.
The doorman will ask for that password upon your arrival, so be prepared.
We got our namesake from Hanson's Shoe Repair, the business that existed here in the late 1800's. There's definitely some authenticity to the name.
The speakeasy-themed cocktail bar is located in what's considered to be the oldest building in downtown Orlando. Bar manager and principle bartender Rene Nguyen said the building's history played a big role in the bar's name, decor, and ambiance.
Nguyen says they take the speakeasy theme seriously and that's where the idea to enforce a password came from. "The password system is pretty unique. It allows us to really kind of focus our clientele - the people that are willing to go through the effort and can appreciate the process."
This isn't one of those packed dive bars that you can stumble into on any given night. It's not that type of place. Instead Hanson's requires you to plan in advanced by calling for the password and come prepared to have a classy evening drinking well made craft cocktails.
So what happens if you show up without the evening's password?
If you don't have the password you're not admitted in but we do assist you. We just ask you to make the quick phone call and get the password.
The doormen are instructed to help patrons who show up unprepared.
Nguyen makes up the evening's password every morning. The passwords are usually a combination of shoe terms, cocktail terms and references to literature and music.
If you slip up and forget about the password protocol you can also scour Twitter for it.
All the password fuss is certainly worth the effort if you're into classy cocktails. Hanson's has well trained bartenders who specialize in making beautiful, classic and craft cocktails.
"We have less major market brand liquors and we have more of a focus and emphasis on quality as opposed to quantity," Nguyen proudly stated.
At Hanson's you shouldn't mind waiting a few minutes for your bartender to intricately put together your signature craft cocktail. It's all a part of the experience.
They specialize in cocktails with fresh ingredients with more obscure spirits.
"We can do anything from your traditional pre-prohibition to post-prohibition era cocktails like your Manhattans, old fashions, Sazeracs and last words but then we also make effort to create our own house cocktails. They are specific to our bar," Nguyen said.
The night we visited we ordered up a Pelirroja, Hanson's most popular and highly recommended cocktail that translates to red-head in Spanish. It's made up of aged Reposado tequila, Campari, mint, strawberries, lemon juice and ginger syrup.
It took the bartender a few minutes to whip up this beauty. The taste and presentation were exquisite. These are type of labor intensive drinks you can expect here.
Don't go trying to order a Cosmo. See Hanson's house rule #6.
And of course, don't forget to keep your voice down - literally speak easy.
This place seems prime for a first date or small friendly gathering.
Nguyen opened the bar in 2013 and had a very specific ambiance in mind.
It's all by design to make sure that our customers are having a great intimate experience with the people they came here with.
The details here make the experience truly unique.
"We kind of curated the ambiance. Everything from the music, which is low and in the background, to our lighting--which is mostly candlelit, to the amount of people that we let into the bar at any given time."