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Mother of Pearl

Bars, Cocktail bars East Village
4 out of 5 stars
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczImperial Bulldog at Mother of Pearl
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczShark Eye at Mother of Pearl
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczMexican Summer at Mother of Pearl
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczMother of Pearl
 (Paul Wagtouicz)
Paul WagtouiczMother of Pearl

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Catching a breeze through white-linen curtains while downing an umbrella-decked cocktail is as close to an island escape as you’ll get on a grungy, hookah-fumed stretch of Alphabet City. For this paradisiacal 50-seat revamp of his old Gin Palace space, Ravi DeRossi (Death & Co, Cienfuegos) recruited longtime cohorts Jane Danger (the NoMad) and chef Andrew D’Ambrosi (Bergen Hill) to rehash the throw-back pours and Orient-skewing grub shaped by 1940s tiki culture. Without a single standard-issue tiki offering on the menu—no mai tais or pupu platters here—Mother of Pearl is a postmodern Polynesian affair pioneering new waters.

ORDER THIS: Beach-ready quaffs draw inspiration from their midcentury counterparts, but Danger freely riffs on those predecessors. The Shark Eye ($15) plays on a Demerara dry float, swapping the usual rum for curaçao and bourbon in a kitschy, Jaws-like cup, while the Tide Is High ($15) spices up the nuttiness of almond-based orgeat and cashew milk with smoky mescal and pineapple juice shaken to a frothy consistency.

GOOD FOR: Island flavors are given smart twists from D’Ambrosi. Kahlua-and-ginger-smothered slabs of pork belly ($26) come with oversize bibb lettuce leaves, ready to curl around coconut rice and kimchi pineapple. The uni kalani ($18) is a lofty take on a traditional Polynesian breakfast, with succulent urchin floating on a cloud of Spam-speckled French eggs.

THE CLINCHER: Like the menu, the cozy teal-and-white den is rife with time-warp nods to the Pacific isles, including retro floral-patterned banquettes, hand-carved totem pole stools and mother-of-pearl light fixtures. The effect is somewhat dreamlike—corroborated by a lo-fi pop soundtrack ranging from the Velvet Underground to St. Vincent. If you can brush off the occasional stares of passersby—the gleaming neon sign and effervescent lights garner many a sidewalk double take—you might find yourself lost in booze-soaked bliss.

By: Dan Q Dao



Address: 95 Ave A
New York
Cross street: at E 6th St
Transport: Subway: F to Lower East Side–Second Ave
Price: Average cocktail: $18. AmEx, MC, V
Opening hours: Daily 5pm-2am
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