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6 8 • r e s t a u r a n t d e v e l o p m e n t + d e s i g n • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 7 GLAMOUR IN THE DESERT As for the drum element, Ussenko says the rule of thumb was to play with a light hand. "The focus of this wasn't to go in and create a drum museum. The drums were just the canvas, so I popu- lated both ends of the space with drums, pulling from the authentic, old rustic handmade ones to more modern drums that you see in use today. Gabe Corona, who I use for a lot of custom work, made them for me. I especially love the three traditional drumheads on the back bar." While providing the appropriate thematic touch, drums informed the overall design vision in more subtle ways. Leather and wood — the two basic elements from which traditional drums are constructed — were used throughout the space. "Those two basic materials were my artistic inspiration, but I applied them with glamour in mind," Ussenko says. "I designed the seating with beautiful leather and rich colors and used real walnut wood to contrast and complement the elegant fabrics. Then I added a bit of bling with the backlit precious stone and lots of crystal light fixtures, which bring a feminine side to it." While the dozen or so chandeliers that hang throughout the space were sourced from a manufacturer, the center- piece light fixture was custom designed by Ussenko and, like the drums, crafted by Corona. Its perimeter is comprised of more than 600 strands of individually strung crystals. The Drum Room measures roughly 5,500 square feet, with an additional 2,000 square feet in the back of the house. It includes a full kitchen that handles everything from the concept's regular limited, appetizers-only menu to more elaborate spreads for special events. Unlike a typical restaurant, the pri- mary focus here is on high-end cocktails and on providing an alluring, see-and- be-seen setting in which to enjoy them. Against the backdrop of illuminated walnut shelving, simple, elegant displays of glassware, wine and spirits bottles underscore that focus. "Our demographic calls for certain things. We have bottles of spirits that go as high as $14,000. We may have a patron who wants a $150 shot of a spe- cial brandy or a $200 pour of a special Scotch," James says. "But they don't want to sit down in the casino environ- ment. They want to sit in an environment like The Drum Room and thoroughly enjoy themselves in a quiet, highly appointed area that has a lot of energy. We were missing that market previously, but we feel we hit the mark with this concept." The Drum Room was designed to feel both spacious and intimate to accommodate a variety of events. Its normal layout includes 14 seats at the bar and another 86 in the lounge, with soft seating clustered around cocktail tables throughout the space. However, the space can comfortably accommodate party sizes of up to 120 guests. "We have multiple diagrams for layouts that work for different groups Snapshot Ownership: Morongo Hotel, Casino & Spa Opened: December 2016 Location: Palm Springs, Calif. Concept: VIP lounge and private- event space Size: Front of house, 5,500 square feet; back of house, 2,000 square feet Seats: Bar, 14; lounge, 86; total event capacity, 120 Build-out: 8 to 10 weeks, design through construction Design highlights: Mountain/valley views, handcrafted drumheads, custom furnishings and carpet, red agate bar and column faces, walnut millwork, crystal chandeliers Backlit red agate panels line the face of the 14-seat bar as well as architectural columns in the lounge, bring- ing a dramatic but earthy element to the interior.