Air’s Champagne Parlor
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Champagne has a certain reputation: posh, decadent and pricey. Ariel Arce (Riddling Widow, Birds & Bubbles), the founder of Air’s Champagne Parlor, is trying to bring the fancy fizz down to earth. Although a glass can still run as high as $21, her new bar also serves sub-$50 bottles in a space reminiscent of a Gatsby-style cabana, complete with a marble-slab bar, brass-accented stools, gilded geometric mirrors and potted palm fronds. We already have a lot of single-focus bars across the city—beer, gin, sake, whiskey, wine, tequila—and at Air the bubbles are doing most of the heavy lifting on novelty.
ORDER THIS: Although wine lists are usually intimidating (a lot of French words), Air’s glasses of champagne are named after their major flavor notes—a friendly approach, but one that can cause disappointment if you’re taking flavors like Green Apple or Nectarine too literally. The Smoked Strawberries (Paul Clouet Rose NV; $18) does have a nice berry taste, but the smokiness is obscured by sharper, drier notes, while the Toasted Almond (Bereche Brut Reserve; $20) leaves the tongue with a buttery-nutty aftertaste. The Plums (Champagne Grongnet Special Club 2009; $21) is mild and smooth, but if plums were present, we didn’t taste them. The WWBMD (What Would Bill Murray Do; $15) is a cheekily named tart cocktail—inspired by the actor’s interview comments on preventing hangovers—made with rotating champagne on ice and lemon oil.
GOOD FOR: A girl’s night out. The space is small and narrow, but still has that fancy flair that feels elevated. If you want to make a night of it, head south to run into drunken strangers on MacDougal, while if you want to keep it relaxed, walk north to Washington Square Park to park it on a bench or right on the grass.
THE CLINCHER: If you’re a fizzy fledgling, the menu takes away the mystery and confusion of bubbly. An intro on the first page begins with “things to get out of the way” and delineates the basics about champagne. The rest is filled with maps, illustrations and bullet points highlighting major facts about the effervescent wine. Arce has made champagne more accessible, but not necessarily more exciting.
127 MacDougal St
|Cross street:||between W 3rd and W 4th Sts|
|Price:||Average main course: $16|
|Opening hours:||Tue, Wed, Sun 5pm–midnight; Thu–Sat 5pm–1am|
|Do you own this business?|