New Des Moines restaurant opens with cocktails and dishes to share
The Des Moines skyline glistens from every angle, but there’s no view quite like the East Village’s brand new cocktail bar.
Pura Social Club, 660 E. Fifth St. Suite A, Des Moines, opens to the public Monday in the Lyon Apartments building. The space, which features floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Des Moines River and downtown, was once home to Italian bistro Sam & Gabe, which closed in 2018.
Co-owners Shawn Brighton and Uriah Mixdorf bring the lounge to life with shared plates, classic cocktails and weekly music. Partners at The Whiskey House & Bourbon Grill, 2510 SW White Birch Driv, Ankeny and DeMo Pizza Co., 604 Locust St., Suite 104, Des Moines, Brighton and Mixdorf jumped at the chance to create a different social experience for Monks.
“A lot of times when you go out these days, you go into a lounge or a bar or a restaurant and you take a picture of the food, take a picture of a drink, and you don’t really take a picture of the people that matter to you,” Brighton said. “So we’re trying to create this fun, dynamic environment where you can just have a good time and talk to your friends.”
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They installed carpeting to improve the sound quality of the space and variable, dimmed light panels on the pillars of the room. Despite having a maximum capacity of 180 people, they only added enough seating for 100, including plush lounge chairs, high tops, bar seating, and extra-wide booths.
Mixdorf called the layout “Les Affranchis” – inspired: chic and comfortable, dimly lit and ideal for a few rounds of classic cocktails with friends.
The south end rises to a small stage, where the social club will host bi-weekly piano duels and weekly jazz and blues performances. Behind the stage, a 10-by-6-foot projected video wall will add ambient imagery, including works by local artists.
What’s on the Pura Social Club cocktail menu?
Rather than focusing on stylized drinks, Pura will serve upgraded versions of old favorites.
“We kind of took them to a higher quality ingredient level,” Brighton said. “We try to use a lot of Iowa spirits.”
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The bar’s signature drink, The Skyline, is a variation of the White Russian, using Revelton Distilling Co. whiskey and soy cream liqueur. The menu is divided by type of spirit, and if drinks are not made with an Iowa label, they will feature another premium spirit.
Recognizing the growing popularity of the soft drinks sector, Brighton said non-alcoholic cocktails with fresh juice would be on the menu. Bellini non-alcoholic watermelon is served in a champagne glass with a scoop of watermelon sorbet in fresh lemon juice and sparkling water.
The beer will be available in draft, can and bottled form, with the focus remaining largely on beers brewed in Iowa.
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What kind of food is on the menu at Pura Social Club?
The co-owners bring the former 801 Chop House and Tangerine to Art Center executive chef David Malfara, whose emphasis on cooking from scratch and bold flavors is on display on the small plate menu. Each plate will be meant to be shared, and they all drop to under $20.
Fans of DeMo’s elote pie will find a flatbread-dressed version loaded with Iowa sweet corn and fresh poblano peppers on a lime mayonnaise. Malfara’s Whiskey Glazed Pork Belly is fried just enough to develop chewy edges along the tender, fatty cuts and shimmers in a molasses sauce. Chicken Jalapeño Wontons are stuffed with diced chicken thighs and bell peppers in a sweet hoisin sauce, deep-fried and served with a chili dip. BBQ Chicken and Bacon Flatbread balances the brown sugar sweetness of homemade BBQ sauce with a refreshing and tangy cream cheese base.
A party room for rent is available for gatherings of up to 50 people and offers the ability to customize the menu by working directly with the chef. Shortly after opening, Pura will host a weekly brunch on the Lyon rooftop terrace located just above the lounge.
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What are the Pura Social Club hours?
Starting May 2, Pura Social Club will be open 4 p.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. A jazz pianist will perform every Wednesday, live jazz and blues performances on Thursdays, a DJ playing hits from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s will be on hand every Friday, and dueling pianos will be on hand. play every other Saturday night.