Bars, Wine bars East Harlem
3 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(3user reviews)
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczABV
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczABV
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczABV
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczABV
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul WagtouiczABV; adonis cocktail
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz ABV; crispy smelt
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz ABV; pocket cheeseburger
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz ABV; Schlenkeria Rauchbier
 (Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz)
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz ABV; tartare pizza

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.

By: Time Out New York editors


Venue name: ABV (CLOSED)
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
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Static map showing venue location

Average User Rating

3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
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If I could give a half stars, I would give ABV 3.5 because I think the prices are high and the portions are average for the location. However, they're still a solid spot.

I used to come from Brooklyn for two things: the seasonal gnocchi and the pot de creme. Those dishes were both worth 5 stars, but unfortunately the pot de creme is no longer on the menu and as much as I want to travel for the delicious cloud-like gnocchi, it's a trek (though occasionally I find a way to go). I also suggest their vegetable dishes, as I've always really liked the preparation.

ABV has a great selection of wine (a lot of tap--one of the first to do this), beer and cocktails, which should come as no real surprise since ABV means alcohol by volume.

If you live in the area, you have no excuse not to come in from time to time and order gnocchi or chill at the bar with a cold glass of something strong.

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