Back at the turn of the 20th Century, 203 Duval St. was home to the Island City National Bank. It helped fund the development of Duval Street, and the bank even printed its own money. It was built in 1901 and open until 1914.
On Friday, March 22, that building will enjoy its grand opening as I.C. Doubles—the “I.C.” borrowed from Island City—a “cocktail craftery and kitchen” offering a nod to its historic past. Owner Patrick DeKeyrel has always had an eye for history; he wrote the text of about 50 of the markers around town for the Key West Historical Project with the help of historian Tom Hambright, so it was a natural fit.
“I loved sitting in the library with Tom,” said DeKeyrel, formerly head concierge at Ocean Key, from which many locals know his face. “I have a true passion for Key West history, and you start finding the threads, the names start overlapping, and you put pieces together than haven’t been put together for 50, 100 years.”
When he saw the “For Rent” sign at 203 Duval Street in January, DeKeyrel felt opportunity had knocked. He recruited a team with its own Key West History, including Jeff Victor, former executive chef at the Marker (previously at Sunset Key) and former district manager at Republic National Shawna Allen (previously … well, everywhere). They even got long-time local and daughter of the legendary Captain Tony, Toni Terracino, to tend bar.
“I am deliberately tapping into Key West history,” DeKeyrel said. “It’s in keeping with the love of Key West locals.”
The décor of I.C. Doubles reflects that design, as do the cocktails and cuisine. The wall behind the bar boasts a replica bank vault, and they have two prints of replica bills in the style of those printed. There is glass from the original front doors displayed, as well as historic Key West maps and photographs flanking the walls.
“There were huge pieces of history happening when the bank was open,” said DeKeyrel. “Sponging, wrecking, cigar factories, and that era we were one of the richest cities in America, and by 1920, we became one of the poorest.” The design of I.C. doubles “evokes some of that opulence … thanks to wrecking, during that time period, women were dressed in the finest silks from Paris, and we had the finest Italian suits for the men.”
“But it’s still Key West,” he laughs. “That’s what I love about Key West: we are a speck that has no natural resources, and yet it’s always been and continues to be a focal point, throughout the decades, that evolves and changes and never loses its importance.”
And historically, there is nothing Key Westers have loved more than food and drink.
“With the beverage program, we have really tried to stick to classic cocktails to match what we’re doing here historically, rather than focusing on the current trend of craft cocktails,” said Allen, the beverage director. “We’re doing an old fashioned, a sidecar, a sazerac, and we’re doing those drinks in their true form.” They do indulge in a few riffs, true to Key West as well. There’s a salted negroni using sea salt from Salt Gallery, a pineapple Scotch-based cocktail inspired by a “blood and sand,” the first cocktail made using scotch. Allen said, “I wanted to take a classic scotch cocktail and add a tropical element.” Don’t worry, there’s a mojito on the menu, but instead of soda, the bartenders top it with bubbly.
The menu is Cuban-inspired small plates, like Cuban nachos with a Swiss cheese mustard sauce and the “Spiny Devil Sandwich,” deviled egg salad with lobster on Cuban bread. Victor is also making fresh chicharrones with a home made garlic-lime dip as one of the bar bites. Going forward, I.C. doubles will feature $5 happy hour plates and cocktail specials. Affordability is envisioned as part of the local draw.
“I also want this to be a kind of safe haven for people who live here,” said Allen, “to know they can get a nice glass of wine and enjoy the energy of the 200 block but in a different setting.”
And while you’re enjoying that glass of wine, don’t worry if you hear stray footsteps or the occasional odd noise.
The Key West Paranormal Society did an overnight paranormal investigation of the building. “Some of the inhabitants have decided to stick around, including Sharky the Sharpei,” DeKeyrel said. “But it’s haunted with all friendly spirits — they never felt anything negative.”
There’s nothing more Key West than spirits … and, well, spirits.
I.C. Doubles Grand Opening Party
203 Duval Street
Friday, March 22 at 7:00 p.m.
Featuring: music by Kristen McNamara and Jay Miner, dancing by Mon Amour, and a ribbon cutting with King Paul of Fantasy Fest.