Getting maced in the East Village might sound like a New York nightmare, but not at Greg Boehm and Nico de Soto’s cocktail club (named after the nutmeglike spice, not the eye-burning pepper spray). The barmen (Boilermaker and Experimental Cocktail Club, respectively) center the booze menu on international flavors from their collective time abroad, with each cocktail titled for a spice used in it. Those imported seasonings are showcased in mason jars around the spice-market–inspired space, and also turn up in the bar snacks from Maharlika chef Miguel Trinidad. The goods here are bold, sure, but with just enough temperance to leave you wanting more.
ORDER THIS: Don’t shy from the namesake coup ($13), a tangy-sweet candied-beet number that’s misted with earthy mace at the table. The soft green-colored Grass ($13), laced with white-tea–infused shochu and grass cordial, is served in a Japanese teacup and hints at summertime, as does the hay-fat–washed cognac Chamomile ($16), cut with zesty lemon and a bit of bubbly. The vodka-based Cardamom ($13) pairs pistachio with nutty cold-brew coffee and just enough of the baking spice to warm up the froth-topped mug.
GOOD FOR: Heating up your next date. The exotic menu means you’ll have to be a bit daring, sipping strange spices such as Filipino pandan and Indian ambrette. The cozy, golden-glowy space is virtually made for close encounters, sparsely decorated with a zinc-topped bar and tiny two-top tables that give you just enough room for a pair of cocktails and flickering votive candles. Tuck yourselves into one of the cushy benches and toast to your intimate, globe-trotting evening.
THE CLINCHER: On Trinidad’s food menu, you’ll find hot-from-the-oven flatbreads layered with heaps of lump crab, creamy avocado yogurt and fresh basil ($11), or smoked-and-peppered bacon, salty Manchego and a rich balsamic reduction ($11). The curried-goat-cheese version ($9) shows off the spice theme best, smartly countering the zesty seasoning with paper-thin Granny Smith slices and golden raisins. Dishes to drinks, everything at Mace is spice-focused but still pretty damn sweet.
505 E. 12th St
|Cross street:||between Aves A and B|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Fri 5pm–2am; Sat, Sun 4pm–2am|
|Transport:||Subway: F to Lower East Side–Second Ave, L to First Ave|
|Price:||Average cocktail: $13. AmEx, Disc, MC, V|
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