The venerable, elegant Skirvin Hilton at 1 Park Avenue has no shortage of ambiance, perhaps especially inside its Red Piano cocktail lounge – named for a showpiece and key ingredient of its success. It turns out that the tinkle of ivories is a perfect soundtrack for mingling over beverages.
Visitors will find a drinks menu packed with martinis, margaritas and various top-shelf whiskies, tequilas and cordials – but bar manager Amy Nelms and staff enjoy shaking (and/or stirring) things up every now and then, so they also offer a seasonal selection of specialty cocktails. “We try to rotate out a seasonal menu about four times a year,” Nelms says; “it depends on what’s fresh and what we can do with it.”
Their new summer menu offers some succor for the scorching months ahead in the form of, among others, the Spiked Berry Lemonade – a concoction of citrus vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, strawberry puree, lemonade and basil – or the Blueberry and Thyme Gin and Tonic, which is exactly what it sounds like except for being even more deliciously refreshing.
Plus, Nelms unquestionably knows her stuff: 405 Magazine readers voted her the metro’s best bartender in 2016. “It’s a pretty big award if you think about how many bartenders there are in OKC,” she says with a laugh.
“Probably my favorite time is Thursday and Friday evenings, when we have live music at the piano. It’s really a nice, laid-back crowd, and with the wood floors and the red accents, it’s a very comfortable atmosphere.”
There’s live music of some description Tuesdays through Saturdays. Check the schedule of performers at redpianolounge.com, or simply put yourself in the hands of the pros and trust that they’ll treat your ears as well as Nelms and crew do your taste buds. And cheers to an OKC classic.