The canon of cocktail bars hidden inside fast-food joints (PDT, the Garret) got another major player with AvroKO hospitality group’s latest bar, set beneath Little Italy patty flipper Genuine Superette. Through a plastic-strip door, the 34-seat room is bathed in the warming glow of a neon-red LIQUORETTE sign hanging above the counter, with price-marked bottles in backlit glass cabinets calling up an old liquor store. Bargoers drawn in by Eben Freeman’s bulldog-style cocktails (mini liquor bottles perched atop soda cans) snap ’grams of their photogenic pours at chrome-rimmed high tops. Kitsch abounds (even the bathroom is plastered with Farrah Fawcett memorabilia), but these antics come scot-free of pretentiousness, promoting a brand of behind-the-bar novelty that favors comfort and simplicity.
ORDER THIS: Cha-Chunkers, the canned cocktails Freeman punctures using a custom hole-punching contraption while chatting amicably with guests at the bar. A garden-variety mojito ($10.56) is reimagined as a miniglug of Cruzan white rum upturned into fizzy Sprite with lime and mint, and an Insomniac ($14.70) dunks a bottle of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur into a Starbucks Doubleshot can, boosted by coffee-smacked Kahlúa and a splash of half and half.
GOOD FOR: Boozers looking to play bartender. The bar offers two DIY drinking options: Help yourself to a self-service fridge stocked with beer and wine, or opt for a pay-by-the-gram Rough Justice program that grants access to on-display spirits, weighed on a scale to calculate the amount consumed. Amateur barkeeps can register for monthly classes taught by Freeman and fellow bartenders ($75), with every graduate getting a Polaroid hung on the wall to signify certification to guest-bartend for their group any time they visit.
THE CLINCHER: Pub-grub standards dispatched from the fast-casual menu upstairs are available to offset your buzz, including a single-stack burger ($7.81) and a buttermilk-battered fried chicken sandwich that balances the bird’s crackling skin with cool, apple-celeriac slaw and a boisterous sambal-laden mayo ($9.64). On more than one recent visit, Freeman announced last call for drinks with a round of on-the-house fries for all tables present. With these charming touches from the ever-pleasant bar staff and a well-balanced lineup of boozing activities, all signs point to a genuinely good time at Genuine.