Exclusive! Rye House to Open Tuesday


The "Appleseed Cobbler" at Ryehouse. Photo by Jim Kearns.

Drinking options around Union Square are about to significantly improve as all-American gastropub Rye House soft-opens this weekend before fully opening on Tuesday. Located at 11 W. 17th St., between 5th and 6th Aves., just down the street from cocktail lounge Raines Law Room, Rye House emphasizes American food and spirits.

 I attended a super-soft opening last night and sampled an Appleseed Cobbler cocktail (Maker’s Mark bourbon, Applejack, cinnamon bark syrup, apples) and Chef Greg Johnson’s phenomenal buffalo sweetbreads paired with a Nectar IPA. Prepared in the style of buffalo wings and served with blue cheese and celery, the spicy, crunchy breading complemented the tender, creamy offal perfectly and made for a playful bar plate.

Owners Mike Janetta and Rob Lombardi (Sala Bowery and Sala 19) and Julio Herencia teamed up with Lynnette Marrerro (Zacapa Rum, Eletteria, Freemans, drinksat6) and Jim Kearns (Freemans, Mayahuel, Pegu Club) to develop the cocktail program. Lynette and Jim previously worked together to create the cocktail menu at now-closed Woodson & Ford. There’s also a selection of domestic craft beers on tap and domestic wines. The long white granite bar with antique shelves is packed with a selection brown spirits, especially micro-distilled/artisanal whiskies and bourbons.

“We wanted to use small-batch American spirits,” said Lynnette. “Every drink had to have an ounce or more of an American spirit. The drinks are American twists on classics. Some, like the Creole Daiquiri, show the best of American fusion. We wanted to have a seasonal julep since it is the quintessential American whisky drink.”

Plates by Chef Greg and Ann McKinney, chef de cuisine, include drunken mussels with wheat beer and tarragon, crayfish po’ boys, beef wellington sandwiches with filet mignon and foie gras on brioche, baby chicken with buttermilk spoonbread, and stout BBQ ribs. Rye House has a front bar area with plenty of seats at the bar as well as two long, farmhouse-style communal tables, and additional communal seating and booths in the back. The decor is a mix of rustic Americana with clean, modern lines, and dim, romantic lighting. I look forward to returning again soon!

The hotly-anticipated cocktail menu here:

The Mansfield: Bluecoat gin or Tito’s vodka, Dolin blanc, yellow Chartreuse, grapefruit bitters ($12)
17th St. Sazerac: Rittenhouse rye, Hine cognac, demerara, Peychaud & Angostura bitters, Marteau absinthe ($12)
Fleur de Lis: Aviation gin, St-Germain, lemon, orange bitters, champagne ($12)
Orange Blossom Special: Overholt Rye, lemon, simple, orange flower water, egg white, soda ($12)
Golden Delicious: Applejack 7½ year, lemon, honey syrup ($12)
Clara Bow: Bulleit Bourbon, St.-Germain, house made grenadine, lemon, mint ($12)
Rye House Punch: Chai-infused Rittenhouse Rye, Batavia Arrack, lemon, grapefruit, angostura bitters, soda ($12)
American  Highball: Buffalo Trace, Averna, soda, orange slice ($12)
Appleseed Cobbler: Maker’s Mark bourbon, Applejack, cinnamon bark syrup, apples ($12)
Rye House Julep: Peach-infused Death’s Door white whiskey, Applejack, mint ($13)
Creole Daiquiri: Old New Orleans 3 year rum, chorizo-infused Sombre Mezcal, lime, pomegranate molasses, cane syrup ($13)

Rye House, 11 W. 17th St. (212) 255-7260. The bar is open 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily, dinner is served until 11 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and until 12 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Lunch service will begin on Nov. 19 and brunch will start on Nov. 28.

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Jim Kearns and Jane Elkins at Rye House opening night.

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The antique bar at Rye House.

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Additional seating in the back room.

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Brown spirits rule at Rye House.

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Buffalo sweetbreads, a small plate at Rye House.

Bottlerocker of the Week: Meaghan Dorman

Meaghan Dorman, head bartender at Raines Law Room and founding member of LUPEC NYC

Meaghan Dorman, head bartender at Raines Law Room and founding member of LUPEC NYC

“Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed.  If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’  They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’ –Clare Boothe Luce, playwright and one of the first women in Congress

There are plenty of talented female mixologists in NYC, but do you know who they are? Thanks to mentors such as Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club, Julie Reiner of Clover Club, Charlotte Voisey of Hendrick’s Gin, and Aisha Sharpe of Contemporary Cocktails, there’s a slew of bartenders shaking things up in the boy’s club. Since the days when women were not allowed in bars to more recent times when bartending involved more bouncer-type duties and heavy lifting, female bartenders have had to work hard to be taken seriously as mixologists. Now that mixing drinks is more about flavor combinations and individual style, there’s no reason why a female bartender can’t make a cocktail that tastes just as good (if not better) as one a man would make.

So last week it was great to visit Meaghan Dorman, head bartender of Raines Law Room and a founding member of the brand new New York City chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails). Meaghan said it became apparent that New York should have its own chapter of LUPEC because the Boston chapter, founded by Misty Kalkofen in 2007, does such a good job of promoting female-oriented cocktail culture. Meaghan said LUPEC NYC, led by Zacapa rum ambassador Lynette Marrero, plans to enhance the community of local women in the spirits/cocktail industry through charity work, education, and events.

When she is not mixing cocktails, Meaghan contributes to several publications as a spirits journalist, and she’s even a fellow blogger, with SpiritMeAway.com, and a fellow Examiner. Formerly the spirits/leisure editor of KING magazine, she has also contributed to Penthouse, XXL and Vain magazines. Meaghan began bartending in New Haven, Conn., while attending Southern Connecticut State University.  She moved to New York six years ago and has juggled bar gigs with stints in the music and media industries. If you want to visit Meaghan at Raines Law Room (48 W. 17th St.), keep in mind that the lounge has 45 seats, so call ahead and make a reservation, 212.242.0600.

“The Dizzy Dozen: The Same 12 Questions We Always Ask” With Meaghan Dorman
Q: What is the first thing you drink after you wake up?
A: A big glass of water immediately followed by a bigger cup of coffee. On a hangover day, for some reason I crave Pepsi in a can.

Q: What is the first thing you drink after a hard day’s work?
A: After a long night I like a stiff, sipping drink. Lately I’ve been drinking an Old-Fashioned variation that is equal parts Zacapa 23 and Elijah Craig 18 with some peach and angostura bitters.  We call it an “Amber Old-Fashioned,” after the cocktail server I first made it for.

Q: What is the most delicious ingredient in your liquor cabinet?
I love Martin Miller’s Westbourne, and it’s great for making simple but tasty drinks at home.

Q: If you could sit at the bar between any two people (alive or deceased), who would they be?
A: Ada Coleman (former leading lady of The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel) and my lovely twin because she is always a good time and I don’t get to see her enough.

Q: Three favorite NYC bars:
Milk & Honey: Because I always enjoy the Mickey and Sammy show.

Death & Co: Love a place with great drinks and food. Even my friends that don’t care much about cocktails are always impressed and have a great time.

King Cole Bar at the St Regis: I love old hotel bars and this one has a lot of history and class.

Q: Three favorite non-alcoholic hangouts:
Branford, Connecticut, with my family

Fort Tryon dog park with my pug

• Strolling the tiny side streets in the village and daydreaming about real estate

Q: Average night’s sleep:
A: A lady needs her beauty rest! I always try to get 6-8 hours of sleep.

Q: What is your favorite place to shop for your bar?
A: We are lucky to be so close to the Union Square Farmer’s Market. We had a lot of fun buying local fruit and syrups this summer.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?
Really anywhere, but especially seeing what people drink in old movies and books. I like reading old recipes and adjusting measurements and ingredients to make it something I really love.

Q: If you woke up on a desert island, what bottle would you hope to have wash ashore?
It would have be something easy to drink neat, and I think a nice aged rum would fit the bill.  I love aged rums that a have coffee/chocolate profile like Zacapa XO and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.

Q: Do you have any bar-related good luck charms?
: I’m not superstitious about anything, but I do have a habit of collecting way more cocktail glasses than I’ll ever use.

Q: Do you have a nickname for yourself when you’ve had too many?
Not so much for when I’m out (I’m lucky to have Irish drinking genes), but my friend has a saying I’ve adopted about the day after a night of alcoholic indulgence being a “Hologram Day” because you’re barely there.

Meaghan Dorman's "Amber Old-Fashioned" with Zacapa 23, Elijah Craig 18, angostura bitters, peach bitters, and demerara sugar cube.

Meaghan Dorman's "Amber Old-Fashioned" with Zacapa 23, Elijah Craig 18, angostura bitters, peach bitters, and demerara sugar cube.

Ada Coleman, early 20th Century bartender at The Savoy in London

Ada Coleman, early 20th Century bartender at The Savoy in London