Well you can’t say they didn’t warn you. A railroad-thin, brick-fitted barroom barely fits half a dozen stools (standing room, see?), where a crush of bargoers vie for front-row seats to a shaker-cup show put on by mustachioed barkeeps Shige Kabashima (Angel’s Share) and Joji Watanabe (Experimental Cocktail Club). But a few steps past the counter, two retractable doors reveal an intimate lounge decked with high-top tables and a black-box stage, from which a cast of comedians (curated by the team behind Gramercy laugh factory the Stand) elicit laughs from a boozed-up crowd.
ORDER THIS: The drinks, too, have a sense of humor and are ushered out in whimsical vessels like egg shells and mossy nests. A fiery Cucumber ($12) jazzes up cukes with house-spiced tequila, chipotle and lime inside an orange bell pepper, while the spirits-forward Smoke ($12) unleashes billowing clouds of vapor over a brassy mix of bourbon and herbaceous Cynar. The prettiest pour is, naturally, the Flower ($12), which brightens gin with lavender, elderflower and cranberry juice and which you slurp through a metal straw in a glass lightbulb nestled on crushed ice.
GOOD FOR: Locals looking for a Manhattan-worthy date night, but with outer-borough ease. For all Queens’ bona fide ethnic eats, art museums and outdoor markets, there are only a handful of true comedy clubs (and sleek cocktail bars) this side of the river. Like the duo of East Side–trained barmen, the decor—an elegant black counter, textured concrete walls—comes across more Astor Place than Astoria. Dazzle your date with the colorful cocktails at the bar, or cozy up at a table for two and make eyes at each other as the jokes drift into relationship territory.
THE CLINCHER: A roster of stand-up, sketch and improv comedians, including Monroe Martin (Last Comic Standing) and Mike Recine (Conan), deftly make light of taboo topics ranging from sex to religion. Weeknights feature specialty shows, including the Comedienne Project, in which comics are challenged to perform sets without mentioning dating, periods or other topics stereotypically attributed to women. With an evening tag-teamed by libations and laughs, there’s enough good spirit here to make even the most hardened New Yorker cackle with glee.