Memphis Whistle is the new spunky lounge in town. Previously a cocktail delivery service, Memphis Whistle now has a home in the Cooper-Young area, offering a lounge experience with good vibes, handcrafted cocktails, and locally sourced grub.
The restaurant is located in a renovated home less than five minutes from the Liberty Bowl at 2299 Young Ave. Although it took over the building that was previously Chef Tam’s Underground Cafe, the new restaurant and bar doesn’t resemble it at all. The exterior is now painted a bright Mardi Gras purple, while the inside contains four lounge and dining areas.
Inspired by his previous home of New Orleans, owner and mixologist Jef Hicks made sure to add touches of the city throughout the lounge. “I lived in Southern Louisiana three different times in my life,” Hicks said. “It’s my spirit animal. It refurbishes my soul and my spirit.”
The four different rooms embody different atmospheres. One room is a cozy lounge area with deep red LED lights and a couch where friends can hang out, while another room is more intimate, dimly lit and seems to be set up for a nice candlelit dinner. However, each room provides that snug and homey feeling, just how Hicks envisioned.
“You feel cozy, comfortable, welcomed,” he said. “I want people to come in and be like ‘This is where I want to hangout. This is where I feel welcomed. This is where I want to be.’”
Along with being the owner, Hicks is Memphis Whistle’s own cocktail connoisseur. The restaurant recently got their liquor license, and Hicks couldn’t wait to whip some of his creations up for people. He is passionate about his drinks because his cocktails are made with ingredients that are anything but boring.
“I have fun with them,” Hicks said. “One drink is called the ‘I’ll Have What She’s Having.’ I’ve held onto the name for two years trying to find the right cocktail. lychee fruit was the key.”
Hicks’ creativity shines with his cocktails and their fun names like the “Life’s a Peach” and the “Absinthe of Malice.”
Hicks uses fresh, seasonal fruits and locally grown herbs to spice up his cocktails. He also makes his own shrubs consisting of a vinegar and sugar base with a fruit.
“One of our popular drinks during our delivery service was the Passionate Purple Drank which consists of butterfly pea flower infused gin with my homemade ginger syrup and ginger candy,” he said. “Then, I take lavender flowers and create a shrub out of it, and finish it with lime juice.”
Along with the cocktails, Memphis Whistle offers a good variety of food made with local ingredients whenever possible. The menu features filling foods such as chili, burgers, loaded tots and barbecue nachos. Vegan food options are also available such as the blue oyster beer chili and vegan Rueben made with roasted celery root, sauerkraut, vegan swiss, and vegan Russian dressing.
“We try to source a lot of our things local,” Hicks explained. “All of our beef comes from D&R Farms, a Longhorn ranch in Millington, which makes our burgers fantastic. Our ‘shrooms come from Bluff City Fungi, and our bread is from D&R Bakery, a great family-owned bakery.”
Hicks envisions his new lounge as a part of the Memphis community. He plans on inviting pop-up chefs who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and those trying to get a name for themselves. “Mainly, I just want to be a part of the community and build it up,” Hicks said. “We want to be part of your neighborhood.”
Hicks’ creativity shines with his cocktails and their fun names like the “Life’s a Peach” and the “Absinthe of Malice."
Memphis Whistle’s lounge room, Feb. 4, 2022.
Located less than five minutes from the Liberty Bowl, Memphis Whistle’s vibrant exterior stands out.