It’s hard not to compare the Standard East Village to Jan Brady. While the Meatpacking District branch boasts a sky-high hot tub, celebrity after-parties and infamous elevator fights (“Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”), the East Village outpost... well, no one knows much about it. The Cooper Square sibling doesn’t have a palatial beer garden or rooftop bangers, but the lack of flash doesn’t mean it should be ignored. And the newly opened narcbar is one more reason to head east. The warmly lit wood-paneled interior opens to a cheerful outdoor patio with seafoam-turquoise tables and bright white chairs. On a recent Wednesday night, the bar had an easy European feel, buzzing with groups of twenty- to thirtysomething friends and families (we spotted a baby in tow) people-watching along Bowery and catching up over colorful cocktails. It won’t be the next Le Bain, but it’s certainly more grounded.
ORDER THIS: The drink menu from Tonia Guffey (Dram, Flatiron Lounge) leans seasonal, filled with lighter and summery twists on classic cocktails. While the swizzle riff Flash Lightning ($14) swaps rum for cachaça, with banana-passionfruit juice adding sweet tropical notes, the Cut Here ($12) is overtly savory, veering a little too salty with pickle juice and vodka infused with garlic, thyme and oregano. For something more balanced, the Souvenir ($12) tastes like a fruit-forward margarita, with a refreshing watermelon splash offset by the bitter Campari and sharp tequila.
GOOD FOR: Socializing with an after-work crew. The space is inviting, thanks to large plush booths, hanging plants and an impressive amount of outdoor seating. If the get-together is casual, blend into the rowdy backpack-clad crowd that congregates in a shared outdoor space with the adjacent Café Standard.
THE CLINCHER: The elevated bar food is from Michelin-starred chef John Fraser, who also runs the kitchen at the hotel’s Narcissa. Forget the green pea tostada; the calorie-spiked grub is the best. Try the crispy onion rings with a buttermilk-dill-avocado dip, or the Georgian Khachapuri, a dish that most closely resembles a cheese pool with stringy feta and mozzarella stewing inside a thick, buttery crust. The Standard East Village may be a late bloomer, but she’s catching up.