Saloon Stakeouts: Opening Season

A rendering of the Empire Room, soon to class up Midtown's bar scene.

The snow’s a-meltin’ and the birds are a-flutter–could it be that spring is about to, you know, spring? Considering all of the hot new cocktail bars looking to open in the next month or two, I’d say NYC is going to have quite the warm awakening:

  • Dram: On the cusp of “officially” opening after two years of being in the works, this Williamsburg cocktail den from Thomas Chadwick will add to the budding excitement of South 4th Street, where Pies ‘n Thighs recently relocated nearby (and just two blocks from Bar Celona). Although the menu will rotate constantly, bartender Nick Jarrett has a stirred drink on the menu called “The Devil’s Pocket” (aged rum, Armagnac, Amaro del Capo, and Rainwater Madeira) that I hope to try soon. Dram’s also offering a Mai Tai with housemade toasted orgeat. 177 S. 4th St., Brooklyn.
  • Painkiller: Dutch Kills‘ Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzales are mixing scorpion bowls, pina coladas and a more laid-back way of drinking with the gritty style of NYC’s Lower East Side–sounds like paradise to me. Keep your eyes peeled for an opening by the end of the month. 49 Essex St.
  • Zengo: Richard Sandoval’s forthcoming Latin-Asian restaurant, to feature former Elettaria chef/owner Akhtar Nawab as chef de cuisine, will offer a tequila library–I for one am looking forward to getting schooled. Near Grand Central.
  • Empire Room: On the ground level of the Empire State Building, this latest gem in the Hospitality Holdings‘ line of upscale bars is expected to open soon. Look for an Art Deco theme and a cocktail menu by Jonathan “Cocktail Guru” Pogash, president of the USBGNY. 350 5th Ave.
  • Lighthouse: From the owners of Macao Trading Co./Employees Only, this Williamsburg restaurant will feature a Mediterranean menu, oyster bar, and pickles–no word on the cocktail plans just yet. Construction is now underway. 145 Borinquen Pl.
  • Freemans Upstairs: Last month, Freemans was finally granted approval to move forward with plans for a second bar upstairs. With Star Chefs’ Rising Star Mixologist Maxwell Britten behind the stick, this is one Lower East Side addition to keep an eye on. End of Freeman Alley.

Red-hot, fresh-off-the-mill rumors:

  • Albert Trummer, owner of Apotheke, is working on opening a new bar in Tribeca.
  • A rum-centric bar in Lower Manhattan may be in the works from the owners of Mayahuel.
  • A whiskey-centric bar may be coming to Williamsburg soon.
  • Sasha Petraske, owner of Milk & Honey and other fine tippling establishments, is working on opening a new jazz and cocktail bar called Hi-Note on 39th St. & Lexington Ave., if the funding comes together.

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