Jim Meehan’s East Village

meehanCourtesy of Jim Meehan.

To some, it’s the best bar in the world. To others, it’s that spot where they can never seem to land a reservation. To Jim Meehan, it’s his place. Though PDT has built its reputation partly on exclusivity, owner and chief mixologist Meehan now shares the secret to his success in The PDT Cocktail Book, out this month.

“The book is actually in keeping with the spirit of the bar in trying to advance this culture,” he says, explaining that while some locals might find his reservation policy restrictive (reservations are taken same-day only at 3 p.m.), it’s more about making a relaxed, unique experience for the few customers who make it inside the compact space on any given evening. “Part of our concept is that it’s limited edition,” says Mr. Meehan, “What I’ve tried to do… is guarantee the rights of all the people who are in here.”

Raised in Illinois, Mr. Meehan began tending bar to support his African-American and literature studies in college. Nine years ago, he arrived in the East Village, tenuring at some of the neighborhood’s restaurants before opening PDT in 2007. The Local asked Mr. Meehan to share some of his favorite spots.

Best coffee
I’ve been going to Ninth Street Espresso twice a day for nine years. It had just opened around the time that I first went there. It’s so exciting to see [the way] coffee has grown in New York City, and that came from Ninth Street.

Best place to bring out-of-town visitors
Momofuku. my brother [Peter Meehan] wrote the cookbook [with David Chang] and I’ve been a huge fan of it since it opened. I go to Momofuku like every week, so I always go there when people are in town.

Best barbershop
There’s a place called Neighborhood Barbers right on Ninth Street that this guy Eric [Uvayzov] runs. I’ve been going there for years now — it’s like $14.

Best new spot
I really like The Beagle, the new cocktail bar on Avenue A between 10th and 11th. Matthew [Piacentini] who used to run the bar program at Inoteca — which is another great Lower East Side place — is the owner and it’s great.

Best cocktail bars
There are very few neighborhoods in the world where you could put PDT, Mayahuel, Cienfuegos, Death + CompanyEl Cobre, The Beagle, Summit… all in a three-block radius and we’re all busy and we’re all friends.

As always, we finished by asking Mr. Meehan if he chose the East Village, or did the East Village choose him? “I think I chose the East Village,” he said.

“There are probably a lot of people who think that my $15 cocktails and my etiquette posted in the bathroom are the antithesis of the East Village, and perhaps they are,” he said with a good-natured laugh. “I guess maybe PDT is a tiny little place where someone like me can come and be in this neighborhood. I may not be the prototypical East Village person but I’m still trying to make this neighborhood relevant and cool and update it.”

Angela Cravens is the editorial director of the pop culture “channelzine” Arcade 44