The New York Times has done a fall restaurant preview for eons. This year, they decided the bar scene deserved its own article. It was my privilege and happiness to construct the inaugural specimen. Here it is:
New Bars for the Clinking of Glasses
By ROBERT SIMONSON
IN New York’s bar scene this fall, beer mugs and wineglasses will take a back seat to cocktail coupes. The recent deluge of wine bars and beer gardens seems to have abated a bit, but the mixology craze rages on.
The iconic Lower East Side speakeasy Milk & Honey will move uptown and become less of a secret, while its old digs will don a new name, Attaboy, and a more democratic mien to match. Veterans of the drinking scene in Belfast, Northern Ireland, will open Dead Rabbit, a multilevel bar in the financial district, with an eye toward embracing the area’s rich drinking past. A quartet of the city’s most talented bartenders will ply their talents at Pouring Ribbons, a second-floor space on Avenue B. And the influential mixologist Eben Freeman will return to the spotlight with an ambitious bar program for Michael White’s new restaurant Butterfly.
As the competition grows thicker, bar owners are stretching in interesting directions in pursuit of novel touches to distinguish their projects. This year’s models will offer liquor smoothies, garnishes that morph into small plates and re-creations of the hottest drinks of 1871. There will be cocktails with a British lilt, an Austrian slant and an Italian twist. And if you enjoy bar names that hark back to New York’s past, you will find a lot to like. (New York is quickly turning into a one-stop, living cocktail museum, with no historical or cultural drinking style unrepresented.)
Noting the restless innovation of the city’s bartenders, some restaurants are raising their liquor game, adopting vacant spaces next door or in the basement and outfitting them as bars.
Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and the East Village (arguably the city’s two best neighborhoods for drinking) will become even richer in saloon life, welcoming new places run by some of the best bartenders in the business. But the scene in another Brooklyn neighborhood, Bushwick, is picking up steam as well, with two watering holes, the Well and the Wick, taking up residence in a former brewery on Meserole Street, the area’s onetime “Brewers’ Row.”
BELOW 14TH STREET
APERITIVO DI PALMA The small Italian restaurant Palma will open a 30-seat bar proffering mostly Italian wines, aperitivo-style cocktails using Italian spirits and small plates of rustic food. There will also be a retail component. (December): 30 Cornelia Street (Bleecker Street), (212) 691-2223.
ATTABOY The longtime Milk & Honey bartenders Michael McIlroy and Sam Ross take control of that speakeasy’s well-disguised Lower East Side space, as their partner Sasha Petraske moves Milk & Honey to a larger place uptown. The saloon’s four-stool bar will be lengthened, and a meat-and-cheese bill of fare added. But beyond an occasional special or two, there will be no drinks menu. (Late November): 134 Eldridge Street (Delancey Street).
BAR UNDER ATERA The tiny restaurant Atera, in TriBeCa, will open an even smaller, as-yet-unnamed subterranean bar. Wines will match those found upstairs, while cocktails will be seasonal, reflecting the food and philosophy of the restaurant. Reservation only. (October): 77 Worth Street (Church Street), (212) 226-1444.
COCKTAIL BODEGA, CBU From the Sons of Essex team, Cocktail Bodega will offer liquor smoothies (Jameson and banana, for instance), spiked fresh juices (strawberry gin lemonade) and creative takes on street food. One level below in this Lower East Side space, CBU (Cocktail Bodega Underground) will be decorated in subway chic, with graffitied walls and seats and poles bought from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. (September): Cocktail Bodega, 205 Chrystie Street (Stanton Street); CBU, 19 Stanton Street (Chrystie Street), (212) 673-2400.
DEAD RABBIT Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry, veterans of the Merchant Hotel bar in Belfast, and Danny McDonald, who owns the Manhattan bars Puck Fair and Swift, collaborate on this historically minded three-story cocktail bar just around the corner from Fraunces Tavern in the financial district. The ambitious spot (named after a notorious 19th-century street gang) intends to combine two of the area’s bygone drinking destinations: the sort of taproom patronized by immigrants and a sporting man’s cocktail lounge. Expect punch, bishops, flips, cups and cobblers, and food. (Late November): 30 Water Street (Broad Street).
LIL CHARLIE’S Artan Gjoni will open this bar directly below the restaurant Ken & Cook, in NoLIta; Richard Diamonte is the chef at both. The space, with its large black banquettes and brass ball chain ceiling, pays homage to 1970s rock ’n’ roll glam. Libations include beer, cocktails, wine by the glass and Champagne. The name honors a lost neighborhood institution, Little Charlie’s Clam Bar. (September): 19 Kenmare Street (Elizabeth Street), (212) 966-3058.
PORSENA EXTRA BAR The chef Sara Jenkins plans a new 18-seat wine bar next to her pocket-size Italian restaurant in the East Village. A rotating selection of raw-milk cheeses, handmade cured meats, a daily oyster selection, seasonal vegetables and Mediterranean plates will accompany Old World “picnic table wines” that emphasize terroir (20 by the glass). There will also be lunch service. (Thursday): 21 East Seventh Street (Second Avenue), (212) 228-4923.
POURING RIBBONS The men of Alchemy Consulting — Toby Maloney, Jason Cott, Troy Sidle and the former Death & Co. bartender Joaquín Simó — are creating an 88-seat second-floor cocktail den in the East Village (above a liquor store, appropriately). The menu will stay brief, at 15 drinks or so, but change every four to six weeks, reflecting the time of year and whatever the bartenders happen to be working on. The team aims to create an airy, convivial local place with intimate banquettes at the front and bar seating at the back. (September): 225 Avenue B, second floor (East 14th Street), (917) 656-6788.
THE THIRD MAN This East Village bar, run by the chefs Eduard Frauneder and Wolfgang Ban of Edi & the Wolf, is inspired by the noir film of the same name, with décor reminiscent of the Loos Bar in Vienna, including a floating steel bar suspended from the ceiling. There will be Austrian-influenced small plates, wine, beer, Champagne and cocktails created with house-made ingredients. A Harry Lime Rickey? We can only hope. (October): 116 Avenue C (East Eighth Street).
UP TO 60TH STREET
MILK AND HONEY Sasha Petraske will move his cocktail den a few neighborhoods to the north, to the Flatiron district, losing its reservations-only policy along the way. The bar will have two rooms, three times as many seats and a menu of light dishes. (December): 30 East 23rd Street (Madison Avenue).
DEAR BUSHWICK Julian Mohamed, Emily Sinnott and Darren Grenia are opening a restaurant and bar inspired by Mr. Mohamed’s British upbringing. The mixologist Natasha David (Maison Premiere, Prime Meats) has assembled a cocktail list heavy on gin, rum and sherry. Wines and beers will hail primarily from the British Commonwealth, including Australian and New Zealand wines and British and Indian brews. Jessica Wilson (Donna, Prune) is the consulting chef. (September): 41 Wilson Avenue (Melrose Street), Bushwick.
DESNUDA CEVICHERIA Peter Gevrekis and Ravi DeRossi jump the East River to create a roomy Williamsburg offshoot of their East Village bar. The South American-inspired cocktail program will be complemented by Dominic Martinez’s expanded ceviche menu. (October): 221 South First Street (Roebling Street), Williamsburg.
HEAVY WOODS Gina Leone and Ben Warren, the couple behind the Bodega wine bar in Bushwick, have opened Heavy Woods nearby — a coffee shop by day and a bar by night, with what Mr. Warren calls “a major in whiskey, a minor in tequila and mezcal” and 14 beers on draft. “New pub food with a twist,” he said, will arrive in September. The bar’s moniker is a translation of the neighborhood’s original Dutch name: 50 Wyckoff Avenue (Willoughby Avenue), Bushwick, (929) 234-3500.
TOOKER ALLEY With this bar, Del Pedro, formerly of Pegu Club, pays homage to the Dil Pickle Club (only one "l" please), a largely forgotten bohemian haunt of the early 20th century on Tooker Alley in Chicago. Though the original Pickle lacked liquor, Tooker Alley will not. Mr. Pedro calls it a “brown liquor house,” offering an array of whiskey-shot-and-beer combinations, and “extended garnishes” — side dishes that complement the drinks. Select evenings will be devoted to “the regional, musical, literary or artistic roots of a specific cocktail.” (Early October): 793 Washington Avenue (Lincoln Place), Prospect Heights, (347) 955-4743.
THE WELL, THE WICK The Well, a 16,000-square-foot public house (with occasional music shows) from the partners Joshua Richholt and Shay Vishawadia, is inside the former Hittleman Brewery, and includes a huge backyard. A lot of space means a lot of brews: 300 in all (60 on tap), 30 sparkling wines (20 by the glass) and a food cart run by Urban Rustic. From the same team comes the smaller Wick, a 9,000-square-foot music venue with a bar up front. Food will skew toward Central Europe: bratwurst and pretzels. (September): The Well, 272 Meserole Street (Waterbury Street), Bushwick, (347) 338-3612; The Wick, 260 Meserole Street (Waterbury Street), Bushwick, (347) 338-3612.
WINDMILL TAP & GRILL A long-boarded-up corner building that was a tavern for decades will be restored to its former use by the partners Dominic Stiller and Paul Cohen. Open for coffee in the mornings, it will emphasize cocktails and New York beers at night. The menu mixes American comfort food and dishes Mr. Cohen has encountered on his world travels. (November): 38-40 29th Street (39th Avenue), Long Island City.