Time Out says
With 30 years and 13 restaurants under his belt, Danny Meyer has built one of the most recognizable gastro empires in New York. The latest project to join his ranks, a partnership with Blue Smoke lieutenants Mark Maynard-Parisi and Jean-Paul Bourgeois, is a Southern-twanged cocktail lounge that puts the restaurateur onto the drinks scene for the first time in his decades-long career. The sleek Chelsea drinkery is decked out with homey touches (the back game room is filled with retro boards including Life and Yahtzee) and a rustic, reclaimed-wood bar helmed by Nicholas Bennett (Booker and Dax), turning out first-rate down-home sips that don’t mimic the real deal but instead redefine ’em.
ORDER THIS: Stiff drinks ($14) like a house-bottled whiskey-and-cola, cracked open and poured tableside. Kissed with herbal amaro, it’s potent enough to sip slowly throughout the night. Equally hefty are the orange-spiced rye-Cardamaro Flagg Day and the supremely smoky Gun Metal Blue, just barely splashed with curaçao and peach brandy. Bennett’s New York Sour gets a welcome froth from sudsy egg white, while his riff on the Hurricane, dubbed the Storm’s Brewin’, whirls the grenadine-rum pairing with apple, lemon and passion fruit.
GOOD FOR: Laidback Gothamites and homesick down-South transplants. The cozy country vibes come courtesy of lived-in leather booths, vintage ceramic plates scrolled with grandma-style florals and even a “porch” stage for bluegrass and jazz musicians. But the rural touches are balanced by urban elements: The renovated-warehouse space is rigged with concrete floors and exposed brick walls. Bourgeois’s bar-bite menu does the same Mason-Dixon line blurring, turning Louisiana meat pies into crunchy, Cajun-spiced Natchitoches spring rolls with addictive chili-soy sauce ($10) and boiled peanuts into a creamy, lemon-zipped hummus ($15). Crispy waffle-cut gaufrette chips come zipped with equal parts salt and vinegar ($4).
THE CLINCHER: The bar’s impeccable service is chock full of good ol’ Southern hospitality. Despite a standing-room-only crowd on a recent night, the waitstaff did not waver. Friendly without getting overly chatty, attentive without hovering, the team delivered grub and glugs with nary a hiccup. Expect a constant stream of water refills, your booze-sopping bites arriving in steady stages and follow-up rounds promptly premeditated. This may be Meyer’s first stand-alone bar, but he’s already raised it.
271 Eleventh Ave
|Cross street:||at 28th St|
|Transport:||Subway: C, E to 23rd St; 1 to 28th St|
|Price:||Average cocktail: $14. AmEx, Disc, MC, V|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Wed noon–midnight, Thu–Sat noon–2am|
|Do you own this business?|