I couldn’t get a drink for the first hour at Broken Shaker on a recent Wednesday night. It was partly because my bartender–eye-contact game was regrettably off, but mainly because the chatty couple next to me told me to fuck myself after I criticized a menu item. They were joking (I think), as they then switched gears to happily delineate which drinks they had ordered and how much they were enjoying them.
This giddy enthusiasm electrifies the rooftop bar that crowns the Freehand New York (yes, the hotel you keep hearing about). Located in the no-fun nexus of Gramercy and Murray Hill, the Miami import is packed with happy-go-lucky twenty- and thirtysomethings that just seem relieved that the Caribbean rooftop even exists, let alone that they are there.
The warm-weather vibes begin at the entrance, where the long queue moves quickly, no one is turned away, and the bouncers (wearing Hawaiian shirts) thank you repeatedly for waiting. Meatpacking security would never.
And unlike rooftops around the city with sleek designs and glass parapets, Broken Shaker is meticulously crafted to look and feel like a well-worn and snug oasis. The indoor space is flanked by two large rooms, both stocked with full bars, ecelectic Caribbean decor (patterned wallpaper, wicker chairs, wood-paneled walls) and separate entrances to the breezy wraparound terrace, which is outfitted with brick columns, string lights and potted plants.
But good luck snagging seats outside. After putting our names down for a coveted spot, my companions and I waited about 30 minutes to be seated at one of the many empty indoor tables. Once seated, it was another 30 minutes before we even got our cocktails.
But the James Beard–nominated drinks are worth the hassle. The playfully named yet seriously crafted menu is divided into sections: “Lost in New York,” “Miami Vibes” and “Somewhere in Between.” Guess which one claims the Poppyseed Bagel Fizz? Mixed with gin, powdered cream cheese, bitter lemon soda and Black Seed’s kvass (fermented rye bread), the citrus might smack your palate, but wait for the faint aftertaste of milky cream cheese and nutty poppy seed that follows. Other memorable sips come courtesy of the Hebrew Hammer (garnished with a plastic dreidel) and the Curry in a Hurry (an ode to the “Curry Hill” neighborhood). The former is a sweet and creamy concoction (“like Nesquik,” said one of my companions), thanks to coconut cream and tahini-date honey, while the latter has a sharp kick due to the red- curried honey and pineapple.
At Broken Shaker, the service may need a bit of a jolt, but it seems as if it’s already stirring things up.
|Venue name:||Broken Shaker||Contact:|
Freehand New York
23 Lexington Ave
|Do you own this business?|
The Freehand hotel looks inviting from the outside, and so do the photos of the tropical-looking bar with a seemingly nice outdoor space decked out with brick pillars (think Pod 39)...but unless you have all the time in the world, don't bother. The line was unnecessarily long (~40 minutes to get in and we were there 10 minutes before the bar opened). Worse yet, the pace they were letting people in was shockingly slow. Some might say oh they're crowd controlling, but there was plenty of room upstairs. They also only let you go up what looks like the service (read: trash) elevators even though the front elevators work just fine (cue: "crowd control"). The two bars (one inside and one outside) were definitely understaffed and needed more bartenders - drinks took forever to be made. We also put our names down for a table and eventually were given one but never got table service. Cocktail choices were limited and nothing particularly outstanding.
Don't believe the hype - these guys still have a lot of issues to work on. Until then, plenty of other rooftop options for you to hit up.