Manhattan Mixologists Stir Up Some Tantalizing Brews at Four New Bars
245 Eldridge St., 212-475-4411
The Concept: “The design evokes a traditional Japanese inn on the Lower East Side,” says Kenta Goto, longtime barman at Pegu Club. With dark wood, a glowing amber-lit bar, and Kenta’s grandmother’s 100-year-old kimono displayed as wall art, the intimate space has energy and elegance.
The Cocktail: The Improved Shochu Cocktail (barley shochu, aged gin, hops liqueur) is served in a traditional wooden masu box, which adds a cedar-y aroma to the delicate drink. Nibble on okonomiyaki (savory cabbage pancakes) with a variety of stuffings—pork belly, octopus, shrimp, calamari, cheese—and dried bonito and pickled red ginger on the side. Also try the miso wings and Japanese burdock-root french fries.
271 11th Ave., 212-981-6188
The Concept: Danny Meyer’s only stand-alone bar, housed in an 1890s building in West Chelsea. The decor—rustic, with lots of exposed brick and salvaged wood—is meant to conjure memories of whiskey and Cokes on sultry Deep South porches.
The Cocktail: Mustachioed lead bartender Nick Bennett offers up the heady Behind the Mule (George Dickel White Dog, Katz’s Rock & Rye, ginger, lime, and homemade raspberry vinegar). Enjoy it with fried oysters, cheddar biscuits, and Southern spread with smoked catfish dip.
339 E. 75th St., 212-288-8033
The Concept: “Our theme is roughly ‘frontier heritage American,’ with food that undergoes much smoking, curing, and pickling,” says Aussie co-owner Josh Mazza. Patrons enter through an American dry-goods boutique selling Pendleton blankets and Lotuff leather into a room with burgundy velvet curtains, chestnut leather booths, and antique-bronze oil lamps.
The Cocktail: Creative director Pam Wiznitzer, who fashioned the bar’s specialty-drinks menu, suggests an “overlay” Mortimer & Mauve (Whistle Pig Rye, chai-infused sweet vermouth, Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur), an ideal quaffing partner to smoked and fried yard bird drizzled with smoked rosemary oil and Berkshire pork belly salad composed of wild arugula, roasted beets, and smoked yogurt.
121 W. 10th St., 212-744-7539
The Concept: A subterranean Art Deco “bar within a bar” tucked underneath the Happiest Hour bar, a whimsical Florida-themed tropical-style watering hole. The vibe is lost-in-time Golden Age Hollywood meets Henry Mancini 1950s and ’60s lounge music.
The Cocktail: Beverage director Jim Kearns proposes an “evening” cocktail—i.e., no ice, served at room temperature, 1800s-style—such as the Sun Also Rises (Domaine d’Esperance Blanche Armagnac, Cazottes quince liqueur, Baines Pacharon de Aranon, amontillado Sherry). Drain all that hard-to-pronounce stuff while sampling the Happiest Single Burger, probably the best burger you’ve ever tasted.
A version of this article appeared in the October 2015 issue of New York Cottages & Gardens with the headline: Boutique Bars.