An East Village Jazz Gem At Rue B

IMG_9343Joe Puglisi Rue B, 188 Avenue B.

Rue B has been serving up cocktails and live jazz for almost 10 years, but it feels much older. It’s a bar that emulates the décor and demeanor of a speakeasy, although anyone is welcome to walk in.

Avenue B has been home to many bars over the years, of course, and the stretch between 11th and 14th Streets is still home to some modern age holes-in-the-wall, not to mention a certain notorious karaoke bar.

Those seeking a little more finesse can settle down at Rue B for one of their retro cocktails, or just a simple glass of wine and some exceptional live jazz nearly every night of the week.

Rue B was established in 2000 by Bruce Peter DuPré, an actor-turned-proprietor who, along with his partners, built the bar from the ground up with his collection of decorative materials. The walls are littered with old black and white portraits, a who’s who of famous personalities from the 20th century. The leather banquettes are complemented by dim lighting, an oddly placed barber’s chair, and a bar with vintage cocktail shakers, all from Mr. DuPré’s own collection of odds and ends.

Like the music it promotes, Rue B’s schedule thrives on controlled improvisation. There is no public calendar for performances, but the rota stays mostly the same on certain days, which is helpful for regulars who grow attached to a particular performer or ensemble.

Although the East Village boasts a number of small theaters and coffee shops, Rue B remains one of the last places in the area to catch a live jazz performance every night of the week. It hosts live performances Monday to Saturday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., and Sundays from 8:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.

That claim, coupled with the intimate and unobtrusive environment, makes the spot a rare gem.

Thanks to its name and its refined offerings, it has become a popular spot for European tourists as well as locals.

Mr. DuPré himself drew some attention this past summer, when a curious story about his bar was told on The Village Voice blog. Having provided a weekly residency for the Mafia-themed Vinny Vella show, he and his partner Alan Fusco found themselves dealing with real-life representatives of organized crime, running up bar tabs and asking for protection payments.

The attention of the F.B.I. resolved the problem, but for that slice of mob history, or just an evening of music, Rue B is a worthy haunt.

Rue B, 188 Avenue B., 212-358-1700.

Joe Puglisi is managing editor of, a music video programming site focusing on indie music.