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Cocktail Avenue

EvelynKim DavisEvelyn Drinkery, Avenue C

When I moved to the Avenue C neighborhood more than a decade ago, cocktail choices were pretty much limited to a mojito at Esposito’s, or a cosmopolitan at the world music lounge Lava Gina. Now that the city has bartenders muddling, and measuring, and chipping blocks of designer ice, from Chelsea to the Lower East Side, and from Bushwick to the Bronx, Alphabet City (as nobody calls it any more) hasn’t been left behind.

The East Village’s most vaunted drinks may be made at Death & Co. on East 6th Street, but with The Third Man finally open, in the former Lava Gina (and Vibrations) space, Avenue C now boasts an impressive battery of cocktail bars.

Louis 649 is a step or two off the Avenue, on East 9th Street, just past Brix Wine Store. It’s a veteran of some eight years standing, although when it first opened its concentration was on live jazz, and its drink selection limited. Somewhere along the way it reinvented itself as a serious cocktail bar, offering a long list of vintage potions, like the “Last Word” as well as its own creations, all made by bartenders willing to go off-menu and improvise–a cocktail-lover’s dream.

Louis 649Kim DavisLouis 649

The Summit Bar has been around a few years too. A young crowd hugs the long, curved, black bar; the music pumps; but staff will studiously pour tinctures and infusions to make the “John Lee Hooker” (whisky, lemon and bitters, topped with Lagunitas “Hop Stoopid” ale), or the “Born and Raised” (honey bush tea-infused Scotch, sweet vermouth, agave, and orange bitters).

I recall the last night of Micky’s Blue Room at 171 Avenue C, with Lenny Kaye of the Patti Smith band blasting chords in the back room. Micky’s is long gone, and its successor Teneleven closed earlier this year. Haunting the two room space now is Evelyn Drinkery. Smooth jazz has taken over in the back room; rich and potent concoctions up front. I tried a Fort Watson, which–with oloroso sherry as well as Bourbon, Carpano Antica vermouth, and bitters–was a stirring elaboration on a Manhattan. Read more…

Blue Owl, Early Adopter of Speakeasy Trend, Is Up For Sale

blue owlDana Varinsky

Blue Owl, which got a good deal of hype back in 2006 but has since been overshadowed by countless other haute cocktail-bar openings (the latest: Pouring Ribbons), is up for sale.

A listing indicates the bar’s liquor license and “classic speakeasy decor” is available for $195,000, with the “below market” rent costing an additional $10,700 per month. The venue is described as “perfect for jazz, piano lounge, hooka bar.”

Helen Demetrious, a broker at New York Commercial Real Estate Services, confirmed the business is for sale, but said she expects a seamless ownership transition and doesn’t anticipate that the 1,400-square-foot basement space at 196 Second Avenue will be empty at any point.

When the owner of Opaline opened Blue Owl in February 2006, the nouveau speakeasy got no small measure of attention, with its obligatory lack of signage (that changed soon enough) and its “secret” back room. Every two weeks the bar hosted Brazilian and Latin music and dance, but according to Blue Owl’s Twitter feed its last “Tropical Tuesday” was Sept. 4.

The Beagle Remodeling, Reopening as ‘Cocktail Den’

beagleSarah Darville Remodeling today.

Here’s one more late-August bar opening: The Beagle on Avenue A will reopen its doors in two weeks with a new look and a focus on the cocktails that Jim Meehan of PDT likes so much.

The Beagle’s cream-colored walls and tables have been replaced with dark blue paint, new blue glass doors, and booth seats. Its owners Matt Piacentini and Dan Greenbaum said their goal is to create a “cocktail den,” moving the space away from its previous status as half-bar, half-restaurant.

“We’re going for that intimate, cozy feel,” he said. “Making it somewhere where it’s a little more fun and easy to hang out.”

Mr. Piacentini said a new menu of cocktails and charcuterie would be “more approachable” but that the specifics were still in the works. One thing is certain: “There will be a lot of sherry,” he said.

Gin Palace Opens Tonight, Bringing a Splash of Steampunk to Ave A

Photos: Suzanne Rozdeba

Local nightlife impresario Ravi DeRossi’s latest venture is a Victorian and Steampunk-themed bar, and it’s set to open at 6 p.m. tonight.

“It’s a fusion of sci-fi, fantasy, and Victorian times,” said Mr. DeRossi, who also owns nearby Death & Co. and The Bourgeois Pig. “We wanted to give it a grittier edge.”

Patrons enter the bar through a door decorated with golden wings; inside the dark space, there’s a ceiling mural by artist David Nordine, who also painted the bar’s exterior. A metal cage stands in the middle of the front room, mosaic murals tile the floors, and clocks, museum replica pieces, and clock parts cover the back room’s walls. Around the bar hang handmade sconces by Steampunk artist Art Donovan. Read more…