Carol Moran is no stranger to Wilton Drive. As the former owner of New Moon Nightclub, Thirteen Restaurant and 13Even, the Florida native sold everything and moved with her wife, Nancy, to the Big Apple a few of years ago. The ladies settled into apartment 9F in a building situated in the Washington Heights neighborhood. While in NYC, Carol worked curating the beverage program for a multimillion dollar restaurant group, but increasingly began to miss her life in Broward County. 

Fast forward to now…Carol and Nancy are back and have recreated that little Washington Heights apartment right here on Wilton Drive in an intimate space formally used by The Naked Grape. The result is Apt. 9F Drinking Den and Social Eatery.  Crossing the threshold, this shotgun storefront’s ambiance took me back to rent controlled New York City in the 90’s. Warm colors, unique art and comfy throw pillows added to that “Friends” apartment feel we all loved during that era. There is a huge bar to the left and the “Living Room” to the right, outfitted with comfy couches, leather armchairs and industrial coffee tables.  Located directly behind the bar a is a six by six foot open kitchen, where you can find Carol busily turning out small plates of delectable food all by herself while chatting across the counter to customers. Next to the kitchen is a long table with stools which gives a nod to that eat in kitchen, big city lofty vibe.

The menu is small but the process of rolling out new items is still in motion.  In fact, Miami drag diva, Athen Dion and I played guinea pigs, trying out a couple versions of a Steak Crostini and a smokey tequila based martini Carol was experimenting with that evening.  Both were superb and will probably be added to the next menu printing. 

Apt. 9F started welcoming people into their “home” just a couple months ago and is offering what Carol is calling the “Housewarming Menu.”  The tapas menu is small currently but there is a little bit of everything to try. A selection of cheese and meats are waiting for you to Build Your Own Charcuterie Plate, augmented with bread and preserves on the side. Jalapeno Corn Muffins, Baked Goat Cheese and the Burrata and Prosciutto Plate all were tempting but we dove right into the bitesized Turkey Meatballs with house-made salsa verde.  The Mini Lobster Roll served on delicious, gourmet bread with a side of crunchy, retro Potato Stix were a hit with both me and Athena. Our favorite of the evening was definitely the pork Belly Tacos. Tender, crispy pork belly topped with mounds of fresh tropical fruit salsa capped off our little feast.  

This is a “Drinking Den” after all so Carol has put just as much concentration on the cocktails as she has on the food.  Apt. 9F squeezes their own fresh juices daily and whips up their own preserves, syrups and bitters. While they have a full bar, be sure to sample the handcrafted specialty drinks Carol has created with top shelf liquors.  The Bourbon Berry Lemonade was terrific. Michter’s Kentucky Bourbon, fresh blackberry, lemon juice and simple syrup…refreshing with just a little kick. Also offered at reasonable prices are a gin drink with blueberry preserves, lemon and soda called the Gin to Sin, the Lillet Paloma with Milagro Tequila, grapefruit juice and agave.  There are about a half dozen others to choose from. Carol is a self described “wine snob” so rest assured the wine list is topnotch. All vino is available by the bottle or the glass. Craft beer is on tap and served from the bottle too.

If these initial offering are just a preview of what’s to come…Apt. 9F will be a HUGE success. Bravo, Carol!  Apt. 9F is located at 2163 Wilton Drive near the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Wilton Manors and is open seven days a week from 4pm until midnight. Reservations are not required but you can reach them at 954-880-1191 with additional questions.