If Alice fell down the rabbit hole to Agrabah instead of Wonderland for a cup of tea, she might have landed in a place like Blue Quarter. The whimsical hybrid is stacked with Middle Eastern decor and tea-based drinks, all behind a hidden entrance.
Well, “hidden.” The unlabeled bar does sit behind the back wall of the East Village’s Mediterranean restaurant Local92, but its bright-teal keyhole door, illuminated by a gleaming spotlight, is about as subtle as Jafar’s wormy goatee. Once you push past it, you’ll find an intimate, pint-size cocktail bar that’s outfitted with blue-tiled tabletops, dangling Moroccan pendant lights and exposed brick walls dotted with antique mirrors.
While the room is firmly grounded in the Middle East, the tea-inspired cocktails travel around the globe: Soon to Ripen cuts its strong Scotch and paprika seasoning with citrusy Earl Grey and melting coconut-water ice cubes. The matcha in the Unfinished Story lends the drink a chalky texture, mixing strangely with its tequila, coconut water and lime oil (curiouser and curiouser!). But the gin-spiked Studio 60 packs a pleasant punch, thanks to its spiced coriander chutney and carrot juice that go down as thick as a savory soup.
On a recent Wednesday night, the bar was populated by only one other imbiber for the entire two hours, making it unusually tranquil for a downtown spot. When, after a few tipples, you exit to bustling Second Avenue, you feel like you’re in a whole new world.