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Cool Cocktail Bars on the Lower East Side, NYC

Cool Cocktail Bars on the Lower East Side, NYC

One of the more interesting neighborhoods in Manhattan that's chock full of interesting streets, historic buildings and cool cocktail bars is the Lower East Side.

Bar Belly - Lower East Side

Formerly known as Lead Belly, this cozy nook of a bar has amassed a large and devoted following among Lower East Siders who yearn for a change of pace from the one size fits all hipster bars that seem to be taking over the Manhattan social scene.

As the season's change, the owners at Lead Belly decided to throw open the windows, as it were, and let the winds of change waft through their establishment. Enter, Bar Belly!

But, fear not; everything that was good at Lead Belly is now even better at the bar's new incarnation.

A touch of pizzazz has been added to the already romantic ambiance. Luscious craft cocktails and juicy oysters are available at the bar as well as a newly-curated menu of decadent bites and delights.

Like the great cocktail geniuses that they are, owners, Tommy and Mauricio, have shaken and stirred things up a bit.

Happy Hour has been taken to amazing new heights with an expanded line-up of libations and small plates that are just made for the world-weary office worker who is seeking solace from the nine to whenever grind.

From 5 to 7 PM, Monday through Friday, you can enjoy a Mojito, a delicious strawberry-chocolate Negroni or a glass of sparkling white wine for only eight dollars. Wait; this bar can't be located on an expensive real estate like Manhattan Island, can it?

And, if you worship the red grape, fear not, they haven't left you out of the picture. A glass of claret goes for just $8.

Remember those oysters we talked about earlier in the article? Well, you can eat your fill, 'cause they are a mere buck apiece.

The menu here is far from extensive, but, in terms of quelling a ravenous appetite ( and appealing to the foodie in you), it certainly does the job.

Tapas-driven, the menu features creative dishes like market vegetable crudité with house-made hummus and a tantalizing beet and horseradish Tzatziki dip.

The outrageous spicy eggplant comes with pomegranate molasses, mint, Greek yogurt and pita bread.

Avocado and mango offset the bite of red onion in the delectable shrimp ceviche, which is topped with cilantro and a variety of spices.

They've also got a very nice plate of lamb sliders with Gruyere cheese and a hearty plate of Portuguese octopus that is enveloped with fingerling potatoes and roasted tomatoes.

Almost every bar worth its' name is proud to present a list of so-called specialty cocktails. How special these libations really are is often open for debate.

But, at Belly bar, their thirst-quenching drinks really and truly will hit your sweet spot.

In The American, vanilla extract and rhubarb syrup add a touch of unexpected flavor and zing to a mix of Beefeater gin, Campari and dry vermouth.

Go tropical with the Pineapple Express, which also happens to be one of the bar's signature drinks. The zesty, refreshing ingredients are a pineapple and rum blend, pineapple syrup and lime juice.

A grapefruit cordial and soda water team up with gin, tequila, green cardamom, white coriander and Giffard Pamplemousse to elevate the Paloma into the Pantheon of cocktails. This is an exquisite sip, no two ways about it!

But, then again, there is absolutely nothing that's merely average here at Bar Belly. The bar has definitely been raised.

Location and Hours

14 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
(917) 488-0943
www.barbellynyc.com

Hours

Monday to Tuesday......................5 PM to 1 AM
Wednesday and Thursday...........5 PM to 2 AM
Friday and Saturday.....................5 PM to 4 AM
Sunday........................................ Closed

The Skinny Bar and Lounge - Lower East Side

Newly renovated, this long-time Lower East Side jewel is not quite so skinny, anymore. In fact, space has more than doubled in size with plenty of elbow room at the long, downstairs bar and an intimate mezzanine area.

This dazzling balcony-like space has a state of the art sound system, leather couches and it's very own bar.

You have got to check out what they've done to this place. There are now fourteen different brews on tap including an ever-changing array of craft suds. They have also added a fine selection of top-quality Bourbon, Rye and Single Malt Scotches.

You'll relish the fact that The Skinny finally has food. Yes, that's right, no more late night runs to McDonald's or Burger King after you've been drinking here. The Skinny's kitchen will satisfy those hunger pangs.

Every month, as always, local artists are invited to display their paintings at a special show. The Skinny also continues its' tradition of booking only the very best DJs that New York has to offer. The house party never stops as the music goes round and round.

Speaking of which, the Skinny has forever enjoyed a reputation as being THE place to celebrate a birthday or hold a bachelor or bachelorette party to end them all. Now, though, there's a lot more space to get loud and rowdy. Well, maybe not THAT loud!

Scattered throughout the premises are a host of nooks and crannies such as a back lounge with round leather banquettes and a section that contains high-top seating and a butcher block table.

Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, The Skinny is proud to offer 25 cent wings and selected draft beers for only five dollars.

A mere six bucks will buy you a glass of house wine while all good drinks come in at the unbelievable price of just $ 4!

When football season rolls around, you can watch the game right here every Monday and Thursday night and cheer your team on to victory with $3 pints of Coors Light.

There are good pickings for all on the new menu which offers everything from Philly Cheesesteak sliders and pulled pork and Gouda cheese pizza to tacos and quesadillas.

You might want to look into ordering a few appetizers if you've come with a group of friends. Everyone raves about the kitchen's sweet chili wings, chicken skewers and veggie pot stickers.

The fried pickles are also pretty tasty as are the corn dos. But what separates these dogs from the pack is that they're made with sweet pork sausage rather than the usual hot dog.

The Skinny Bar and Lounge, making friends in the neighborhood since 2004.

Location and Hours

174 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 228-3668
www.theskinny-nyc.com

Hours
Monday to Wednesday........................4 PM to 4 AM
Thursday and Friday............................2 PM to 4 AM
Saturday and Sunday..........................11:30 AM to 4 AM

The Summit Bar - Lower East Side

Every great bar or restaurant needs just the right ambiance, a setting that makes people want to return again and again.

The Summit Bar, from master mixologist Greg Seider, is just such a place. The vibe is sophisticated cool.

A man who sets trends rather than follow them, Greg is a stalwart veteran of the New York bar scene, having worked at such iconic watering holes and restaurants as Minetta Tavern, Lot 61, Asia de Cuba, The Mercer Kitchen and Robert DeNiro's Hudson Lounge.

What sets Seider's cocktails apart is his "ground to glass" standard of excellence in which only seasonal ingredients are used in The Standard's cocktails along with a variety of premium spirits. Every drink is made with fresh juices, homemade infused agaves and herbs that are grown in Greg's rooftop garden. And let's not forget the fact that love and passion come into play, as well.

A modern-day alchemist, Greg designs fruit and herbal infusions, from syrups to liquors and even, yes, ice, that brings his guests one of a kind libations. Unconventional ingredients and blends make for unforgettable cocktails.

The food being served here is no afterthought. The pulled pork sliders with Maraschino BBQ sauce and chipotle will attest to that. As will the Sushi grade tuna tartare that's topped with crispy rice.

You will also want to try the veggie Patty, even if you are a confirmed carnivore. This luscious forget-about-the-meat burger is made with black-eyed peas, mushrooms, red bell peppers, chickpeas and leeks. Along with an out of this world Tahini spread, the patty is topped with cucumbers, carrots and celery.

But, we know just what the magnet here is and so do you. Start your cocktail experience with Greg's signature creation, Ground to Glass. How Greg came up with a mix of tequila, red bell pepper puree, English cucumbers, lime juice, hickory smoked salt and orange bitters, we'll never know, but you'll be glad that he did!

 

the summit bar nyc

 

Have you ever thought that you'd sip a drink that had clove dust in it? Didn't think so. That whimsical ingredient joins Bombay Dry Gin, Cava, Rosemary infused agave, lemon juice and pear puree in The Last Cocktail.

The bar also turns out a pretty nifty Margarita, Old Fashioned, Whiskey Sour and that much-loved Brazilian classic, Caipirinha. A citrus sensation, this cocktail contains both lime juice and lime zest, as well as agave and Leblon Cachaca.

Located in the now hip Alphabet city section of the Lower East Side, The Summit Bar has been a true labor of love for co-owners Greg Seider and Hamid Rashidzada, who he met when they were both bartending together at The Mercer Kitchen.

There's no fancy, pretentious mission statement on either the bar's website or adorned across the menu.

Greg and Hamid simply want you to enjoy yourself with honest food, that's locally sourced, affordable and approachable cocktails and a setting that, stylish though it may be, is as comfortable as an old, but very well polished shoe.

Location and Hours

133 Avenue C
New York, NY 10009
(347) 465-7911
www.thesummitbar.net

Hours

Sunday to Thursday...........................5 PM to 2 AM
Friday and Saturday...........................5 Pm to 3 AM

169 Bar - Lower East Side


Open since 1916, this eccentric and lovable watering hole with tons of offbeat personality, is one of the last original bars in this funky and historic neighborhood.

At one time, back in the day, the bar was affectionately nicknamed The Bloody Bucket by its' regulars. And that little tidbit of information tells you all you need to know about just how wild things could get here.

Thankfully, though, times have changed and you can count on being safe and secure while sipping a beer or cocktail on the premises. But, that doesn't mean the atmosphere and vibe aren't, shall we say, intriguing and colorful.

Over the past hundred years, the bar has, as you would imagine, undergone quite a few changes in ownership.

Currently, 169 Bar is in the more than capable hands of Charles Hanson. A resident of New Orleans, Charles purchased the bar in 2006 when he moved to the city.

More than just a nostalgic nod to the Big Easy, 169 Bar takes its' food and drink menu very seriously.

Yet, with palm trees scattered throughout the establishment, a leopard print pool table, cozy exposed brick and vintage accents, the bar pushes the decor envelope just about as far as it can go.

Oyster madness reigns supreme day in and day out at the 169! Referred to as the fruit of the sea, back in New Orleans, you can get three oysters for only $5.

One of the Big Easy's favorite foods is Oysters Rockefeller, which was invented at Antoine's in 1898. The 169 Bar offers its' customers half a dozen of these succulent babies for just $12.

Rest assured, the good times don't end there. You can order several varieties of Oysters Flambe'. Accompanied by mesquite chips, the oysters are dressed with olive oil, fresh, ground peppercorn, garlic and your choice of liquor.

Try the oysters a la' Jameson, which are sprinkled with oregano and Jameson Irish whiskey. The oysters Manhattan are gussied up to the hilt with ingredients like Hudson Rye, orange zest, Cointreau and a dash of oregano.

From 12 until 7:30 pm, Monday through Friday, you can grab a beer and a shot for three bucks. Other happy Hour deals include$1 off cans and drafts and two dollars off just about everything else.

A mere $12 will get you a tall and delicious frozen Daiquiri. Choose from peach, banana, strawberry or pina colada.

Toast your love with a New Orleans' classic, The Hurricane, which is made with passion fruit and rum. Sangria can be rather a hit or miss in many bars. they either put too much fruit in, which dilutes the buzz and makes the drink taste more like juice, or too little.

The bar keeps here get the fruit to wine ratio just right. And, the fruit component contains apples that have been soaked in brandy.

They also do a fantastic Pickle Martini, which is comprised of organic cucumber vodka, pickle juice and vermouth with a tasty garnish of pickled string beans and okra.

The signature libation is the appropriately named Bloody Gargoyle, whose ingredients are Absinthe, freshly squeezed lemon juice and a red wine float.

For something totally different, you have got to get into a New Orleans' state of mind and order a drink from the Julep Botanique. These outrageous drinks are made with an assortment of botanicals, such as Rose Bud, Peppermint, Sassafras, wild cherry, Jasmine and Honeysuckle.

You can even cool off with an iced tea based cocktail.

When you are craving some authentic Louisiana eats, 169 bar is the place to quell that hunger for seafood, spice and Po'Boys.

Po' Boys are served on golden toasted French bread. Savory selections range from smoked pulled pork or turkey to fried shrimp, crawfish and oysters with Cajun nutmeg Remoulade sauce.

The Roasted Chicken platter consists of a perfectly done leg and thigh together with buttery corn on the cob, pickled veggies and bread. For your dipping pleasure, enjoy the house-made BBQ, Jerk, Blue Cheese or Sherry Rosemary sauce.

Creamy, gooey Mac and Cheese comes with a variety of toppings and blends including sundried tomatoes, bacon, BBQ sauce and pork or with an actual crab patty.

The crawfish boil is second to none. Even if you are not really a drinker, it's worth making the trip to 169 just to sample this bountiful dish. The crawfish is caught in the waters off Natchitoches, Louisiana and flown in overnight.

At 169 Bar everything that's on your plate is as fresh as can be. This is as close to home cooking as you can get unless,of course, you've got family somewhere in the vicinity of the French Quarter.

In the Big Easy tradition of warm hospitality, the servers all have a smile on their face and the bartenders are always having a blast.

Location and Hours

169 East Broadway
New York, NY 10002
(646) 833-7199
www.garfunkelsnyc.com

Hours

Monday to Sunday....................12 PM to 4 AM

Garfunkel's Speakeasy - Lower East Side

During prohibition, the flourishing and glamorous New York bar scene was driven underground with gangsters and speakeasies taking control of the illicit trade in bootleg liquor.

The police and the government may have closed the doors of every bar in the city. But, in spite of these restrictions, those who wanted to have a good time knew just where to find both free-flowing liquor and like-minded people.

Everyone is more than familiar with outlaw legends like Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel and Al Capone. Not nearly as well-known are the names Marcus Garfunkel and Max Tauster. But, when it came to dirty deeds and pure, unadulterated greed, few could hold a candle to Marcus and Max.

Operating out of their offices on the second floor of a nondescript building at 67 Clinton Street, Garfunkel and Tauster ran a phony bank through which money was laundered. Eventually, both men were sentenced to serve time at the notorious Sing Sing prison, for embezzlement and fraud.

Garfunkel's Speakeasy is housed inside the very walls where the criminal duo ran their fraudulent enterprise.

Perched above The Burglary Restaurant, Garfunkel's Speakeasy looks a great deal more classy and well decorated than its' namesake's offices ever did. It's ideal for a romantic rendezvous.

Noted New York restaurateurs Tim Gashi and Valentino Gjekaj have put together a gorgeous lounge that has a real, functioning bank vault as the main entrance. The 40-seat space is decorated with antique furnishings from shops in Connecticut as well as framed clippings from the New York Times that tell the nefarious story of Garfunkel and Tauster.

Lilting jazz music plays in the background. The atmosphere is so authentic, you will catch yourself looking around, expecting to see the Jazz Age's symbol of excess and corruption, New York's Mayor, "Gentleman" Jimmy Walker, stride through the door, at any moment.

Reservations are highly recommended for priority entry. A passkey, which changes every evening, will be given to guests so that they can "unlock" the vault door.

Mixologist Lucinda Sterling has created a tempting cocktail list; one that subtly blends innovative sips with Roaring Twenties' classics.

 

garfunkels

 

Served on the rocks with a lemon twist, All The Loot blends Rye, apple and orange bitters and Byrrh Quinquina with Curacao. Cameron's Kick features a blend of fine Irish whiskey, Scotch, orgeat and lemon juice. It's just what you need when your day is not running along as smoothly as you'd like and requires a nice swift kick in the pants.

Stay Up Late sounds like fun and with ingredients like gin, cognac, simple syrup and lemon juice, this drink certainly lives up to its' reputation.

Go big-time glam or go home with the fabulous Monte Carlo. You'll feel like a millionaire when you sip this delicious elixir, whose ingredients are rye, Benedictine, and Angostura. It's served on the rocks, of course.

Gaining traction on the city's must-have cocktail bucket list is The Buzzword. Pavan, light rum, lemon juice and fresh raspberries are shaken, stirred and served in a flute glass with a Prosecco float.

They don't do brunch here, but Garfunkel's offers up something that's a bit more elevated, shall we say, than your run of the mill late morning or mid-afternoon snack.

On Wednesday through Sunday, Afternoon tea is served from 12 till 5 PM. No, you don't have to dress up for the occasion, but you might just feel as though you want to! Always please remember, though, that at Garfunkel's the dress code is business casual and dressy.

Savories, sweets and scones are majestically served on beautifully tiered trays. Your steaming pot of tea is courtesy of the tea artisans at Janam.

Savory selections range from cucumber on white bread with mint cream cheese and Dijon egg salad on wheat topped with micro greens to smoked salmon on crackers.

Sweets include fresh baked cookies, chocolate pudding and the cupcake of the day while all scones are accompanied by traditional clotted cream and small batch jam.

Location and Hours

67 Clinton Street ( enter through The Burglary)
New York NY 10002
(212) 529-6999
www.garfunkelsnyc.com

Hours

cocktails
Sunday to Wednesday.............................6 PM to 2 AM
Thursday to Saturday...............................6 PM to late night

Louie and Chan - Lower East Side

Inspired by the culture and cuisine of Little Italy and China Town, Louie and Chan present a dining and club experience like no other.

Tucked away inside an old-school storefront is The Louie, a restaurant whose charming decor and the mouth-watering menu is based on the classic trattorias of Naples.

Their delicious pizza comes out of a wood-burning oven and is topped with both house-made mozzarella and Buffalo Mozzarella that is imported from the Campania region of Italy.

The Louie's kitchen uses only the finest locally sourced ingredients to create dishes that everyone from your friends and family to business associates will enjoy.

Tufted booths and marble tables transport you back in time to a 1930's New York Italian eatery. But, it's all done in the spirit of fun. There's nothing corny or cheesy about the ambiance. You will want to have your smartphone ready, however, to snap off a few pics.

The Asian-inspired cocktail lounge, Chan Bar, is located underneath the restaurant. Descend just a few short steps and you will find yourself in an exotic world of pleasure and excitement.

Complete with low, romantic lighting and unusual but captivating and stylish decor accents, you will feel as though you have wandered into a nightclub in pre-war Hong Kong or Macao. Able to accommodate around 150 patrons, Chan Bar is large enough not to feel claustrophobic, yet it also retains the intimate feel of a private lounge.

It's no wonder, then, that Louie and Chan have become one of the most popular venues, in all of Lower Manhattan, for private parties and corporate affairs.

Boasting a state of the art Void sound system, Chan Bar takes great pride in their music programming.

On any given night you will be entertained by, not only the best DJs that the city has to offer but luminaries such as Bonobo, Rich Medina, Just Blaze and Idris Elba. Yes, this is one hip and happening place!

As far as sustenance goes, Chan Bar offers food from the restaurant's superb menu.

When you're drinking and dancing, pizza is always a great choice for hand-held food. One of the better pies here is the Tartufata, whose delectable ingredients consist of wild mushrooms, buffalo mozzarella, white truffle oil and Parmigiano cheese.

Calabrian spiced salami, anchovies, cherry peppers, roasted garlic, black olives, mozzarella and chives top the Mafioso pie.

 

louie and chan

 

They've also got a huge antipasto platter for you and your pals to snack on while you enjoy the music. In addition to the chef's selection of artisanal meats and cheeses, the platter contains a harvest of grilled vegetables and marinated olives.

The appetizers at The Louie are way above average. They include wood-fired stuffed sardines and a bone marrow plate with Himalayan sea salt, chile and white balsamic jam and chunks of Italian bread. You could make a meal out of this plate. It's savory and satisfying.

Every pasta dish is a winner that comes out of this kitchen. It just depends on your taste and mood. You want spicy? Then order the Cacio E Pepe. Strands of al dente spaghetti are mixed with butter, garlic, Pecorino Romano, Parmesan and a nice shot of black pepper.

Regulars here love the rigatoni with slow-cooked short ribs and the half-moon ravioli that comes inside of a luscious lemon cream sauce.

Now, let's talk about those delectable cocktails.

Each room has a bar as well as their own set of specialty cocktails. The Louie's libations are mostly Italian themed with elixirs like the Fragola Felice, made with Pinnacle Gin, Prosecco, fresh lemon juice and strawberry puree.

The Caipirissima conjures up visions of the Isle of Capri and romantic Mediterranean sunsets. This cocktail is a refreshing blend of Cruzan white rum, lime juice, brown sugar and Angostura bitters with a lime wedge garnish.

Downstairs at the Chan Bar, you can sip away the evening with Blossoms in the Night, a drink that features gin and Saint Germaine elderflower liqueur blended with mint, cucumber and lemon juice together with angostura bitters.

The Happy Ending will send you home smiling. House-made raspberry puree lends a refreshing note to the mix of Seagram's Vodka, lemon juice and demerara syrup.

The cocktails at Louie and Chan come in between $14 and $15, which is fairly reasonable for Manhattan. But starting at 11 PM, every evening, both bars offer a Late Night Special.

Selected cocktails like the Moscow Mule and a very strong Dark and Stormy are priced to move at only twelve dollars.

Location and Hours

303 Broome Street
New York, NY 10002
(212) 837-2816
www.louieandchan.com

Hours
Sunday..................................5 PM to 10 PM
Monday..................................Closed
Tuesday and Wednesday.......5 PM to 10 PM
Thursday to Saturday.............5 PM to 4 AM

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