ABV

  • Bars
  • Bars
Critics' pick
1/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

ABV

2/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

ABV

3/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

ABV

4/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

ABV

5/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

ABV; adonis cocktail

6/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

ABV; crispy smelt

7/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

ABV; pocket cheeseburger

8/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

ABV; Schlenkeria Rauchbier

9/9
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

ABV; tartare pizza

East Harlem

Last year, Earl’s Beer and Cheese emerged, seemingly from the ether, along the northern edges of the Upper East Side, bringing youthful buzz and craft brews to a ’hood that had long been a wasteland for both. Now, the previously drowsy area has received another boost from the oenocentric ABV, the latest piece of a loosely affiliated mini empire that also includes the musically inclined Vinyl Wine shop and an in-the-works cocktail bar called Guthrie Inn. With exposed-brick walls, filament bulbs and orange banquettes, ABV lacks the scrappy, fish-out-of-water charm of Earl’s. But while the look is more familiar, the menu is rife with eccentric touches: vino on tap, an exotic all-European beer list and head-scratching grub from Corey Cova, who has left Earl’s to take a starring role at ABV’s chef’s counter. Not surprisingly, the place has struck an immediate nerve, filling up with off-the-clock Mount Sinai residents, thirsty East Harlemites and other locals eager for another new neighborhood joint to call their own.

DRINK THIS: While Earl’s makes do with just four beer taps and a handful of craft cans, ABV delivers a hefty binder of drink options. More than 50 wines are organized under user-friendly headers such as “rich, earthy, exotic reds” and “clean, crisp, refreshing whites,” with an eye toward offbeat producers. And those Continental brews, including classics like Kulmbacher pilsner ($6) and beer-nerd bait such as Evil Twin Hop Flood ($7), offer a refreshing detour from the all-American drafts that are de rigueur these days. With all these choices, you may want to skip the creative but unsatisfying low-alcohol cocktails, which bartenders build with amaro and sherries in lieu of a hard-liquor license.

GOOD FOR: A refuge from the frat-driven UES bar scene. With its versatile offerings, the bar can satisfy plenty of tippling urges that go beyond Bud pitchers and Jägerbombs. Even teetotalers can find a thoughtful selection of “0% ABV” choices, including hibiscus lemonade and local pop from P&H Soda Co.

THE CLINCHER: Cova is a chef worth watching, and his high-low experiments are a welcome subversion of the usual wine-bar fare. The “pocket cheeseburger,” stacked with pork belly and a thick waffle fry, recalls the comfort-food wizardry that helped put Earl’s on the map. There’s plenty of appeal, too, in a basket of fried smelt and meaty dill pickles ($7); the hunks of fish could be crispier, but they get an unexpected lift from a Japanese-style tobiko sauce. The cooking can be uneven, though. Some promising dishes, like a seasonal snack of mushy shishito peppers paired with greasy nubs of linguiça, had technical flaws, while other mash-up creations—a bland steak tartare pizza with anchovies, Ouray, pepperoni and olives ($12)—were more weird than appetizing.

Venue name: ABV
Contact:
Address: 1504 Lexington Ave
New York

Cross street: at 97th St
Opening hours: Mon–Thu 5–11pm; Fri 5pm–1am; Sat 5pm–midnight; Sun 5–11pm
Transport: Subway: 6 to 96th St
Price: Average drink: $9. AmEx, Diner's Club, Disc, MC, V

Average User Rating

3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|3
2 people listening
Daniel S

Is this a joke? ABV is trying very very hard to be a hip spot (where there are no others) but it is very disappointing from the high prices to the low quality food. And technically this is East Harlem, get your locations right. Good place to go for 1 overpriced beer on my walk home from the train and that's about it.

tom

excellent food, good selection of beers and wine. Tasty cocktails. Reasonably priced considering UES standards.