Open for business: White Rabbit Cocktail Parlour reflects couple’s vision for night out in Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 16, 2023

SALISBURY — A new Salisbury restaurant offers patrons a chance to step back through time with a modern twist.

Walking into the White Rabbit Cocktail Parlour, one could be forgiven if they forgot what year it was. Dressed in the attire of the Roaring ’20s, hosts greet and seat members for a night straight out of “The Great Gatsby.” Owners and spouses Samantha Haspel and Rob Ring had a vision to create something unique.

“We wanted to build something incredible for Salisbury,” owner Samantha Haspel said. “(This is) something that doesn’t exist, and we’re really proud of what we have created.”

The White Rabbit Cocktail Parlour blends small plates and craft cocktails that will change seasonally.

“We are hoping to introduce people to new flavors and experiences that they have not had before,” Haspel said. “We are asking them to build trust with us. Come in and try something you may not have had before that you may not be comfortable with. Give it a shot.”

Some of the dishes include roasted bone marrow with bacon jam and toast points, or the Hamachi Crudo, a sliced yellow-tail bluefin sashimi-grade tuna with yuzu ponzu, sliced jalapeño and an edible begonia flower.

“Plates range from $10-20,” Haspel said. “It’s all meant to be eclectic, diverse, international, small plates to be shared.”

Cocktails at the White Rabbit Cocktail Parlour range from $10-$15.

“Our cocktails are all classics reimagined with some of our own spins on them,” Haspel said.

One such concoction is the Smoked Bubble Manhattan, a twist on the otherwise conventional drink that employs a food-grade, smoke-infused bubble around the rim of the martini glass to create a striking flavor profile.

Every item on the menu represents a collaboration between the minds behind the establishment.

“When I am looking at the menu, our chef brings me his suggestions,” Haspel said. “I bring mine, and we discuss how we can alter them in a way to put our own stamp on them. We have a similar process in making our cocktails. Rob and I will sit down and talk about what kind of flavor profiles we are trying to create.”

On Wednesday, members from various Salisbury organizations and entities celebrated the White Rabbit Cocktail Parlour’s grand opening.

“Seeing so many of you is such an honor to us,” Haspel said. “This has been more than two years in the making. I especially have to thank (Chef) Alex (Thayil), who is an outstanding chef, but actually spent two years not cooking. He spent two years staining ceilings, gold leafing and doing all of these things (to get the place ready).

“I have to thank my amazing friend Jerry Elmi. He taught me how to wallpaper and who also came in and stained and gold leafed and worked to build this into what our dream is.”

Haspel also recognized her staff to thank them for helping curate the atmosphere that makes the White Rabbit Cocktail Parlour what it is.

The establishment’s name pays homage to Haspel’s late father, known by many as Rabbit.

“My dad’s name was Peter,” Haspel said. “The grandkids always called him ‘Rabbit.’ He died in 2016 after a long cancer battle. A lot of my culinary knowledge came from my dad.”

Following his death, Haspel began seeing rabbits in various places. She said she felt like it was her father sending her a message.

“A couple of days after he died, I was sitting in a bank, next to a window, and I saw something out of the corner of my eye,” Haspel said. “I looked down, and it was a rabbit.”

When she battled cancer herself, it seemed like the rabbits would make an appearance. Fittingly, Haspel said it just made sense to name the place White Rabbit Cocktail Parlour.

The parlor is open Wednesday-Saturday. The kitchen has a regular menu until 10 p.m. Haspel said they would soon add a late-night menu featuring desserts and cold snacks.

“We do accept walk-ins,” Haspel said. “You can just come for drinks or dessert. When the patio opens, it will be first come, first serve.”

Walk-ins will require a daily membership that is $5 per person.

The White Rabbit Cocktail Parlour is an extension of Haspel and Ring’s creation next door, the Wonderland Arcade Bar. A yearly membership gains entry to both places.

Annual membership is $25 for an individual, and they can bring three non-member guests at any visit. Those members will also get the first offer on upcoming future events. There is a couples membership that is $40 per year. They can bring two non-member guests.

“Keep looking at our Facebook page,” Haspel said. “We are going to be growing the space and what we are doing. There will be lots of updates in the future.”

Some of those events will feature piano nights, dancing and a pre-set Indian dinner.

During the grand opening, Salisbury Mayor Karen Alexander welcomed the new addition to the town.

“We are very excited about this venture,” Alexander said. “It has been coming along for a while, and we are thrilled to have (it).”

Alexander said that during the soft opening, she had her culinary horizons expanded, calling the small plate offerings “delicious.”

Salisbury Mayor Pro-Tem Tamara Sheffield added, “Thank you for bringing this business to Salisbury. I can part with the words, ‘Let’s have a cocktail.'”

The White Rabbit Cocktail Parlour is located at 5 Easy St. in Salisbury.