At the close of summer, club goers in Costa Mesa are finally in for a long overdue vacation. But instead of the destination, it’s the decade that's important. Stepping through the black and white, nondescript door of Holiday is like punching your passport to the Roaring '20s. Dim, turn of the century lamp posts glow over a swath of black leather lounge furniture with white trim and news clippings from the end of the Prohibition era cover the walls of the club’s front room. Their cocktail menu of the speakeasy-style lounge contains sly history lessons about the time period. The “Bennie Sent Me,” essentially a top-shelf Old Fashioned, is named after the window used during Prohibition where customers would go to pick up their drink orders. There's also "The Gatsby," a cocktail named after the F. Scott Fitzgerald character featuring vodka, coconut water, Falernum, lime and cinnamon syrup.
While the old-time charm with a modern twist isn’t exactly new, Holiday is doing their best to make it their own. This weekend, the club officially opens its doors to the public, following several months of soft opening events that started in July. Social Management Group (SMG) bought the club last year after its predecessor Maison (formerly known as renowned gay club The Lion's Den) was shut down for hosting its live music events without the proper permits. When SMG took it over, the first thing business partners Rob Arellano and his crew needed to do was make sure that the club could stay open by keeping everything quiet outside its walls.
“The two challenges we had were that we didn’t have a live music element to the [conditional use permit] as well as we knew there were sound issues with the neighborhood,” says Arellano, who has programmed various clubs in Costa Mesa for years. “That was a concern we needed to mitigate and we wanted to mitigate it because we want to be here for a long time, 10, 15, 20 years and it’s important for us to get that right.”
Passing a rigorous sound study and implementing loads of upgrades to the structure of the building meant that their current programming of DJ nights and company sponsored parties during the soft opening would go off without a hitch. Tonight also marks the opening of the club’s newly finished Red Room lounge in the back of the club, which will include its own separate menu of high-end whiskeys and other spirits for discerning palettes. Both cocktail menus were designed by cocktail curator Aaron Reid who makes all of the syrups and various concoctions used for the drink menu in-house (as in, at his home).
“My whole vision for this cocktail menu as well as the other one I’m creating for the Red Room is an old-school feel with a modern twist,” Reid ays. Getting people drinking how they should be drinking.”
The modern twist on the dance floor this weekend starts with Australian DJ duo Cut Snake as well as a host of other DJs this weekend. The bands will come once the venue gets official approval for live music.
“We want to bring back throwback music, '90s music, old ska bands, some cool elements back to where people can say that’s not your average club,” says Gene Brezeale of SMG. The club is also planning to bring in special, unannounced headliners, adding an extra element of surprise and curiosity to the venue every time it opens its doors. The curtains will open and it might be a three piece jazz band playing old school hip-hop or a local legend who wants to try something new on an unsuspecting audience.
“We wanna bring in acts where people can have that intimate relationship with the artist and the music and that’s really gonna play into even more what we wanna do with the live music component,” Arellano says.
Now that the opening is underway this weekend, patrons can look forward to knocking on the door, grabbing a cocktail and seeing what Holiday has in store.