The Vault is one of the most historic buildings in Tampa. Built in 1923, it served as the National Exchange Bank until being revitalized to the incredible event venue its known as today. CW’s Gin Joint is the newest undertaking at The Vault. Most people have visited this place for Vault of Souls, a seasonal haunt event, but I’m so excited to have an excuse to go any day of the year now! Oh, and to answer your question, “CW” is Carolyn Walker–proprietor and designer of the place.
As a gin lover myself, I had been following this place for months, hoping to hear when the official opening date would be. On September 29th, CW’s Gin Joint Facebook page posted that it’d be open for business at 5:00 PM, so naturally I made every effort to leave work and get there. It did not disappoint one bit.
This place has the capability of transporting you to a different era. The first sign that you’ve arrived is the beautifully decorated lobby. It lets you know that you’re not there yet, but you’re close. The restaurant has a variety of ornate chandeliers that are sure to catch your eye upon entering. It has a very open atmosphere, where the bar, dining room, and live entertainment lounge all feed off of each other’s energy.
The menu unfolds to a gin matrix with four quadrants, dissecting the flavor profile of over 50 brands of gin. Each is measured on the spectrums of juniper, citrus, savory, and floral. The matrix initially reminded me of Harry Potter’s Marauder’s Map–except this map guided you through the diverse palate of gin, not the secret corridors that your enemies wander in Hogwarts at night.
If you’re not ready to dive right in to having gin on the rocks, there are plenty of gateway cocktails that will quickly make you a fan of this spirit. For newcomers, I’d recommend the French 75 or Clover Club. As for the food, you really can’t go wrong. The moment I saw that there were three different cheese boards to choose from, I knew I was in the right place. I had an amazing Caesar salad that was unlike any that I’d had before. The picture I got of my lobster mac is going to be my new phone wallpaper. And if you’re even slightly considering dessert, ask them to bring out the cart. It’ll convince you very quickly. We got the tropical bananas foster, and our server assembled it right in front of us.
This place is so cozy; it’s perfect for a date night. Even if you just come for dessert and cocktails, you’ll still have a memorable experience. We listened to the live entertainment all night long and loved it so much that we stayed after dinner to listen to the duo sing. CW’s Gin Joint stays open until 2:00 AM every night, and since it’s very new, it’s best to make a reservation on Open Table beforehand.