Looking for something fun and unique to do while visiting the Wilmington, NC area? Well, have I got a great option for you: The Sorrow Drowner! Based upon a tip from my friend Andrew at Park Rovers, I was following the progress of the Sorrow Drowner as the space was built out. About a year in the making, a theater (previously TheaterNOW) has been transformed into a dining experience for explorers! Stepping into the Sorrow Drowner for the first time is like stepping into an exotic, new world. Are you intrigued by frozen tiki drinks, pu-pu platters, and rum cakes? The Sorrow Drowner has all that and a lot more. Here’s what to expect when you visit…
Sorrow Drowner Tiki Bar, Wilmington NC
For my visit on opening day, I had no expectations! There weren’t a ton of details on the Sorrow Drowner website but I was excited given the credentials of the people working on the concept. My two friends who had been at TheaterNOW were a little more cautious given earlier mixed experiences but ready to give the new business a shot. From the outside, Sorrow Drowner doesn’t look like much: boxy building with non-descript double-doors up front but looks can be deceiving. Stepping inside, you can start to pick up the tropical ambiance and what’s to come. After checking in, we’re brought into a small, merch and waiting room (t-shirts, hats). But it doesn’t take long before we’re whisked into the main dining area!
Like most community theaters, it’s a small stage and space with a balcony wrapping around the second floor for additional seating. Blue and red lighting gives the space a purple hue and there are smallish tables scattered about the space, probably best for three people or less. The large bar in back anchors the space but on both the left and right side, the walls run two floors high and on display are a variety of travel paraphernalia. Books, paintings, masks, along with other knick-knacks line the space. There’s even a shark swimming above you! We’re seated at a small table right at the stage and it’s time to review the menu and digest all the tiki goodness around us!
Sorrow Drowner, Wilmington NC – Drink and Food
While the Sorrow Drowner is a dining experience, the food menu is remarkably simple: pu-pu platters (meat or vegetarian) along with Dole whip and rum cakes. For those of you unfamiliar with pu-pu platters, they are a bit of a throw-back dish offering up popular Chinese-American eats as a Polynesian appetizer platter. Served with a thermo-burner in the center, Sorrow Drowner offers up some beef teriyaki, roast pork buns, dumplings, and coconut shrimp for their pu-pu platter ($30 for 2, $15 for each additional person). We had snacked before arriving at Sorrow Drowner so an appetizer plate worked perfectly. For drinks, things get a little more complicated! More choices with lots of fruity ingredients. Choose from tiki standards like a Mai Tai, Painkiller, or Navy Grog ($15 to $16). We did a Sorrow Drowner for two, a lot of the specialty drinks are served in ceramic collectible cups which you can take home for a fee. Overall, I found the food at Sorrow Drowner to be pretty solid but wished the frozen drinks were a bit stronger. And if you still have an appetite, highly recommend the Dole Whip which is a thick and creamy pineapple soft-serve. We added the rum floater for a boozy hit on top. The food and drink highlights for me were the roast pork buns, Dole Whip, and the Uncharted Territory cocktail (rolled map glass) over the course of the evening.
Sorrow Drowner, Wilmington NC – Entertainment
Now of course, the Sorrow Drowner is all about a dining experience! They run shows Friday and Saturday for about 60+ minutes complete with emcee, jazz trio, dancers, and more. It’s a playful and nicely done distraction and I think they will improve the narrative as the Sorrow Drowner evolves. The waitstaff is all in character as early 20th century personalities spreading the entertainment value across the dining room floor. The live entertainment is a fun addition to the overall explorer ambiance of the place.
Sorrow Drowner, Wilmington NC – Final Thoughts
Overall, I really enjoyed my visit to the Sorrow Drowner on their opening day! Expectations were totally met, the food and entertainment were both quirky and fun, the decor was phenomenal. I’d have to go back a second time to absorb all the work they put into decorating the space. Given how unique the experience is on the weekends, I do think the Sorrow Drowner will need to figure out how to handle things mid-week when the crowds are thinner.
Currently, Sorrow Drowner is open from Thursday to Monday, 5pm to midnight with full shows running on Friday and Saturday. My thought is that possibly during the quieter days, the Sorrow Drowner could just run out a jazz trio or show some vintage films on the stage for entertainment. I also think they should expand the menu to a la carte items and other “Polynesian” items for better munchie options. Maybe some crab rangoon, spring rolls, shrimp toast, and spare ribs would be nice! But great job, Sorrow Drowner! I know it’s early and you’re off to a great start. Looking to more and better over the coming months and hope to see you soon, aloha!
19 S. 10th Street
Wilmington, NC 28401