Elsa

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Photograph: Jeff Gurwin

Time Out Ratings

<strong>Rating: </strong>4/5

Hybrids are the gimmick of the moment for bars that want to set themselves apart. Ditmas Park's Sycamore doubles as a florist during the day, and midtown's Lugo Caff sells both chardonnay and chemises. Now here's Elsa, a stylish saloon that, two days a week, hosts in its anteroom a bespoke tailor. This isn't surprising for a bar named after the 20th-century fashion priestess Elsa Schiaparelli. Her framed Time magazine cover graces the back wall of a space so airy and clean, it could be in East Hampton. Candles and clear bulbs illuminate a row of cozy white-and-blond-wood booths, offering a summery alternative to the subterranean darkness in so many of the city's trendier bars. The drinks list is minimalism itself: ten international wines by the glass ($8--$11); a worthy selection of three bottled beers and three on draft ($6--$9)—funneled through an ancient sewing machine—and ten cocktails, four "classic" and six "house." From the classic category, our young bartender built us an old-fashioned with Old Overholt rye, muddled brown sugar, bitters and a curl of lemon peel—a strong, austere drink Don Draper would approve of. The original Jaszek (applejack, Falernum, lime juice, Angostura and orange bitters) was every bit the "fruity man's drink" the server promised, going down smooth and tasty. Lower-than-usual prices are among Elsa's other lures (only one cocktail creeps above $10), as is an elegant atmosphere that encourages relaxation and conversation. Call it the new cocktail culture's calmer, quieter cousin—one with a dapper wardrobe.—TONY

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217 E 3rd St between Aves B and C (917-882-7395). Subway: F, V to Lower East Side--Second Ave. Mon--Thu, Sun 7pm--3am; Fri, Sat 7pm--4am. Average drink: $9.

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