Raise the Bar: Sabrage has swank, champagne, and sophistication 

It's been seven months since Sabrage opened up on South Lafayette in Royal Oak. The space once belonged to Sangria's Sky Club, but after a multi-million dollar renovation, the upper level lounge couldn't look any different.

Aaron Fenkell Belen is the lounge's proprietor. He's invested a lot of dough into the property and the pride he takes in its appearance and success is apparent. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner often dine at Bistro 82, the swanky-yet-cozy restaurant on the ground floor, and Sabrage itself attracts top-notch talent and clientele that includes football players like Reggie Bush.

To Belen, bringing this type of establishment to Royal Oak has transformed the city and what it's known for.

"A lot of people think of Royal Oak as a place you go to get a burger and have a beer. I think Sabrage has changed the dynamic in the corridor," he says. "They're blown away by what Sabrage is. Everything we're doing is unique."

That uniqueness includes a stunning selection of champagnes comprised of four of the world's best brands. Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Veuve Clicquot, and Krug are all available at Sabrage, and the bar recently started offering half bottles for purchase.

It's a certain type of crowd that's attracted to a posh champagne menu and Belen confirms that, noting the clientele belongs to a more sophisticated age bracket.

"We attract a 31- to 34-year-old crowd," says Belen. "It's difficult to describe. It's not understood by the masses."

Outfitted with sleek Spanish porcelain floors, a glowing white onyx bar, booth-lined walls, and a DJ booth that doubles as an aquarium, the place is swanky to say the least. The ultra lounge is only open on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., but those limited hours are part of what makes this place special, according to Belen.

"We treat every Friday and Saturday like its something special. We want people to come celebrate the weekend. Whether they go out once a year or once a week, we want them to have an amazing experience," he says.

Sabrage has what Belen calls "the finest sound system in the Midwest," which helps the lounge attract big names like Fat Man Scoop (who's booked to perform the night before Thanksgiving) and Las Vegas residents that normally play to rooms with a maximum capacity of 2,000.

Sabrage, though, only holds about 230 people and that's including the patio off the back of the building. In fact, it takes an entire week for Bistro 82 and Sabrage combined to hit 2,000 guests. And that that number really isn't all that shabby.

For now Belen says he's focusing on DJs, but soon he hopes to incorporate live music into the entertainment schedule. He alludes to some big things that will be popping off soon and notes that record producer, songwriter, and rapper Jermaine Dupri will be performing at his birthday party in the weeks following Thanksgiving. That party is open to the public, but tickets are required.

"That type of talent playing in such a small room is pretty rare," he says.

Indeed, most things about Sabrage are rare. With its expensive and posh environs, the classy beverage program, or the parade of hot thirtysomethings that patronize the establishment, the experience is nothing less than high class. — mt

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