Magazine ranks The Guest Room among best hidden cocktail bars

The Guest Room was recently ranked 14th on Men’s Journal’s list of the 19 best hidden cocktail bars - titled “A Cocktail Bar on Every Corner.”  (Submitted)

A popular local watering hole was recently featured in a Men’s Journal story highlighting the 19 best hidden cocktail bars in America.

The Guest Room - the creation of Eat Local Starkville’s Brian Kelley and Ty Thames - was ranked 14th on the list, making the discrete speakeasy-style bar the only Mississippi establishment to make the cut.

Kelley, an attorney and restauranteur, said they are humbled to be featured on the list alongside some really great places from all over the map in a magazine as well regarded as Men's Journal.

“It is a real testament to the dedicated and passionate people we have working with us as part of the Eat Local Starkville team,” Kelley said. “People thought we were crazy opening a craft cocktail bar in a place as small as Starkville a few years ago, but we knew how supportive people are here and that if we put out a high quality product it would be appreciated."

Among the long list of specialty drinks, Men’s Journal recommends ordering The Cruel Engine, make with bourbon, maple syrup and ancho chillies.

“If you look down the unnamed alley in Starkville that leads to the back of the police state and you see a light on in the building before it, that’s how you know the Guest Room is open for business,” the article says.

College roommates and old friends Kelley and Thames opened The Guest Room in September 2014

The article continues: “It took four months of working pickaxes and wheelbarrows to dig out the basement so a man could stand up in it. But now, thanks to sophisticated design work, it's one of the coziest bars around, serving Southern comfort food and inventive cocktails such as the peach-infused rum drink with blackberry shrub.”

Kelley went on to praise The Guest Room’s staff and leadership, including general manager Hunter Smith, who he cites as integral to the establishment’s success.

Smith will be leaving The Guest Room soon to become the third partner with Kelley and Thames at Humble Taco - a new fast casual eatery on the corner of Jackson Street and Highway 182.

”Obviously, my partner Ty Thames is the glue that holds everything together at all of our restaurants,” Kelley said. “Will Sanders was our initial bar manager in The Guest Room and he did fantastic job while he was with us. He left a little over one year ago.”

The current manager is Kris Harbin and Chef de Cuisine John Fitzgerald provides the food menu and nightly dinner specials.

While the bar offers a wide range of specialty cocktails, ranging in price from $9 to $12, The Guest Room’s menu also features beer and specialty shots, along with a non-alcoholic menu.

For $4 each, customers can buy two non-alcoholic drinks: The Silk Road, which features pomegranate juice, tonic syrup, simple syrup and lemon juice, or Blueberry Lemonade, consisting of blueberry syrup, lemon juice and cub soda.

Hours for The Guest Room are 4:30 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Thursday and 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday.