14B Orchard St nr Canal St, Lower East Side (but like, almost Chinatown)
The Place: A cocktail slash oyster slash jazz bar, formerly known as Lead Belly.
The Time: Monday February 19, 8:15pm. Working on a play six days a week has made my days off feel really precious. And by precious, I mean: I don’t leave the house except when absolutely necessary. But that line of thinking has made me into somewhat of a homebody. So I decide to traipse out into the rainy night and hop the J train to a bar that’s the so-called lil sis of The Fat Radish. And I love The Fat Radish!
The Vibe: It's cute and cozy but still feels spacious. I take a seat at one of the wooden stools toward the end of the copper bar. There’s exposed brick, mirrors on the back bar, concrete walls that are purposely designed to look like they’re falling apart. There are tables in the back, where only a few people sit, and some banquette seating on the wall opposite the bar. There’s a quaint wooden piano that nobody is playing - a bummer, because I could’ve used some jazz tonight. (I know, I know, I shit on a jazz musician I dated in a previous review. I’m contradictory. Die mad about it.) It’s just me and a couple at the bar, and they're pretty deep in conversation with the bartender. I’m v content to sit here and write and chill.
The Bartender: A guy wearing a baseball cap, who I later find out is named Greg. As he hands me a menu and pours me some water, he asks if it’s my day off. “Yeah! It’s nice!” then I quickly realize that it is NOT his day off. A man who must be the owner or GM or combination of the two somehow ends up behind the bar and gives the couple a lecture on sherry, which I don’t think they asked for. And to me, this is super confusing since my dog’s name is Sherry. Slowly, Greg and the barback gather round to listen to teacher, because maybe there will be a quiz later. But then they both wander off to do their jobs, and GM/owner guy is still talking about the difference between fino and oloroso sherry.
The Drank: Class Flirt, a name that oddly fits into my school analogy. It’s a shaken cocktail served up made of gin, cucumber, mint and lemon. It’s refreshing and bright; definitely NOT a winter drink but a nice antidote to winter. Their cocktail menu is very straightforward: liquor, citrus, sugar. That’s it. It’s nothing revolutionary, but sometimes you just want something familiar. y'know?
Was I Hit On? The barback, David, hits me up with the inventive line: “cool notebook.” But ironically, the woman in the couple, Cait, used to work at the stationary store across the street, so Greg, David, Cait, her beau Oscar, and I all start talking about notebooks. I learn what a dot grid is! Then Cait brings over Scrabble (because apparently they have board games here too) and we all play a rousing game. I win, then I leave.
Should You Drink Here Alone? Yeah! The quiet night I was expecting turned into a joyous time meeting new people and kicking their asses at a beloved word game. I had such a fun night. Greg warned me that it gets pretty crazy on the weekends, because duh, it’s still the Lower East Side. So come early in the week, sip your cocktail and play to win.