Dram boat – a floating bar, jazz club and whisky paradise on the River Tiber – could be one of Rome’s most exciting new openings this year.
Rocking gently on the river by Ponte Regina Margherita, not far from Flaminio Metro stop, Dram’s 1920s-era houseboat has been lovingly restored with yards of original wood and brass fittings, hand-stitched sofas and a glass-encased afterdeck-with-a-view.
The project is the brainchild of Omar Ghoneim, jazz-loving owner of the city’s historic Gregory’s Jazz Club, who has riffed on river lounging in the past with his successful summer pop-up, Gregory’s by the River.
Dram boat, a permanent fixture moored along the Tiber’s tow-path, is many things: a live jazz venue and dance club; a bar specialising in whisky, with 160 different labels; an easy evening bar and eatery; and a spot for some sun-filled lounging on Sundays, with brunch from 12 noon onwards.
Dram boat – how to catch a jazz gig
Ghoneim’s credentials mean that, as a music club, you’re in safe hands: his iconic Gregory’s Jazz Club, moments from the Spanish Steps, s one of the few places in Rome that offers great live jazz almost every night of the week. Expect Gregory’s regulars such as Giuseppe Ricciardo and the Swing Reactor and the Red Pellini Swing Trio. Mondays at Dram boat is shaping up into jam session night, for those of you who like to mix things up.
To catch a gig at Dram, you need to reserve your place via the Dram boat booking engine right here. A €20 ticket gets you entry, a drink, and a plate of food at the buffet. Please note, if you want a seat, you can also reserve that online at the same time for no extra charge. Booking is essential on concert nights.
While live jazz music and a specialist whisky bar make Dram a connoisseur’s choice in Rome, come too for an after-work drink with friends to simply soak up the cosy vintage vibe, from 18.30. The music schedule kicks in towards the weekends, so midweek (Dram is closed on Tuesdays) is perfect for a low-key cocktail with friends, or a wee dram if you are so inclined.
Dram boat – food and drink
The regular drinks list is more than reasonable for a downtown venue: regular cocktails start at €10, with glasses of wine from €6. There’s also a list of house cocktails riffing on the whisky theme priced at €12.
The premier whisky list meanwhile offers star turns including Lagavulin, Highland Park, Tullibardine, as well as Japan’s Yoichi Single Malt, Bowmore and many more.
The light bites menu has a fusion vibe, with sushi devised to compliment a range of cocktails, especially suited to whisky-based drinks. The fusion and California-style rolls cost €10-€14 for eight pieces. Healthy salads and poke bowls are also on offer, €12-€15. You can even get a sushi boat for €60 (we’d expect nothing less from a floating bar!) Desserts include classics such as tiramisu and lava cake, and start at a reasonable €6.
Dram has also launched a Sunday brunch from 12-16, which includes some New Orleans-style home-cooking, building on a popular theme from last summer’s Gregory’s by the River.
Dram boat – how to get there
If you’re arriving by public transport, get off at Flaminio metro and then head towards the river along via Ferdinando di Savoia. At the moment, roadworks mean that a wall of metal panels block the view of the riverside, but once you are beyond this barricade, expect to find candles illuminating the correct steps down to the riverbank. It’s fairly dark this time of year, but Dram is just a few metres walk from the foot of the steps.
It is also possible to drive vehicles directly down onto the tow-path, but probably more complicated than is necessary, unless you are facing mobility issues. Finally, the pedestrian gangway to Dram is steep and was a bit slippery when I went, so bear this in mind as well when choosing your footwear.
Dram boat is moored by another vacant craft, where the long-term plan is to join both for a bigger venue with contrasting spaces. This should broaden its potential still further, and is bound to be a hit on warmer evenings when the city clambers for a cool breeze down on the river.
For now, Dram is one of Rome’s best-kept secrets, so head along there to enjoy this rocking venue before the rest of the city finds out – and don’t forget to tell them that Testaccina sent you!
Testaccina was a guest of Dram boat
Dram Boat | Lungotevere Arnaldo da Brescia | 00196 | Rome | Tel 0039 3516457888