Set foot into the speakeasy-style Key Party lounge on Main Street and you’ll know owners Rachel Zottenberg and David Duprey don’t take themselves too seriously.
First, you walk through the “accountant’s office” foyer, with Rolodex, rotary phone, and poster of a kitten dangling from a rope by a single paw that reads “Hang in there”. Then it’s into the dimly lit bar (sister space to the adjacent Rumpus Room restaurant), where the ’70s adult-house-party theme emerges with sultry red velvet drapes, black-leather booths, and yes, a bowl of keys.
“David and I both like restaurants that are more thematically about hanging out and being comfortable and enjoying time in a space and not feeling rushed,” says Zottenberg, whose other ventures with Duprey include the Emerald and Uncle Abe’s. “We want to get people hangin’ out more. It’s the opposite of Vancouver’s sterile restaurants.”
Drinks run the gamut from grasshoppers to paralyzers, while to eat are items like party mix and celery sticks with dill Cheez Whiz. “I like hilarious foods,” says Zottenberg, a former member of the Judith Marcuse Dance Company and Arts Umbrella hip-hop and jazz instructor.
As far as summertime entertaining goes, it doesn’t get much more silly—or easy—than the Key Party’s Jell-O shots.
How did these jiggly, alcohol-loaded gems end up on the menu? “There’s some weird shit that I just always have on the back of my brain that I’m dying to do,” Zottenberg says, noting that the pair recently invested in an ice-shaving machine for use in yet another of their outlets, the Narrow Lounge. “The Jell-O shots are not hard to do; it’s more about time and patience. but once you figure out the recipe, it’s pretty fun. I love showing people it’s easy to do.”
Here, Zottenberg does just that, with her personal recipe. It uses an entire bottle of sparkling wine to yield about 50 servings.
With warm weather in the forecast, now’s the time to rally your pals for a backyard bash. A bowl for people’s keys is up to you.
The Key Party’s Jell-O shots
Note: One package of gelatin powder is equal to three sheets of gelatin. Sheets can be found at speciality grocery stores.
1 750-mL bottle of sparkling wine
1 cup vodka
3 cups sugar
2 cups water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
24 sheets of gelatin
Bloom gelatin sheets in a large bowl of very cold water, approximately eight minutes. Oil parchment paper on both sides and line a half hotel pan with it.
Mix vodka and sparkling wine and set aside.
Bring water, sugar, and lemon juice to a boil.
Add bloomed gelatin to water mixture, ensuring it fully dissolves.
Slowly add liquor to gelatin mixture.
Pour into lined pan and let set, approximately one to two hours.
1 cup crème de cassis
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp lemon juice
18 sheets gelatin
Bloom gelatin in water, as above.
Bring water, lemon juice, and sugar to a boil. Dissolve gelatin in water.
Let mixture cool to room temperature, then pour over first layer. (If it’s too warm, it could melt into the first layer.)
Set in fridge.
Cut into small cubes. Top with a little whipped cream, sprinkles, or anything else you like.