If you’ve ever wanted to feel like a minor character in a David Lynch film, then slink into a black dress, smack on a dark-red lip and hightail it to the Art Deco treasure trove that is Slowly Shirley, a sultry hideaway beneath Jon Neidich and Jim Kearns’s West Village bar, the Happiest Hour. Shirley takes her late-1940s aesthetic mighty seriously, with glossy oxblood banquettes and barbacks kitted out in newsboy caps and suspenders like dancers in a Broadway musical. Once you get past the standoffish bouncer out front, you’re transported to a Truman-era fever dream.
DRINK THIS: True to form, the drinks from Pegu Club pro Kearns evoke classic cocktails of the era with names like Loose Lips Sink Ships and Ingrid Bergman. The Village Bicycle ($16) is a striking summer cocktail—pro tip: get it with Dorothy Parker gin—a perfumed, refreshingly tart stir of Kaffir lime, lychee and ginger. Looking for something that’s less sweet and more smoky? The rye F.A.F. Manhattan ($30)—the letters stand for Fancy as Fuck—nearly earns its price tag with a finish as silky as satin sheets.
GOOD FOR: Old Hollywood nostalgists. The jazz-soundtracked space boasts an awards-show after-party vibe, thanks to a fleet of black-and-white screen-star portraits, vintage light sconces that look like Oscar statuettes fused onto expensive ashtrays and gold bar-height tables laid out with free snacks while you wait for your drinks.
THE CLINCHER: The acclaimed West Coast–style double burger from Happiest Hour upstairs is happily served downstairs as a single-patty version ($12), but there are plenty of worthy snacks on offer beyond the bun. Chef Thomas Lim taps into the decade with midcentury party fare like crispy Bonsai Chicken ($8), smoked-fish dip with Ritz crackers ($10) and salt-and-pepper broccoli ($6) that’s lightly battered and irresistibly crunchy with ranch for dipping. It may not be part of a Hollywood starlet’s diet, sure, but make like Shirley and indulge.