50 Commerce St btw Barrow and Bedford St, West Village
The Place: A modern New American restaurant tucked away on a romantic little block in the West Village. And, full disclosure here, the place where my bartending bud Darnell runs a really awesome cocktail program.
The Time: Thursday April 13, 7:30pm. I was hanging around Manhattan during the day for various odds and ends, when I realized I hadn’t seen Darnell in a while. Texted him, asked if he was working tonight. He said no but he told me to stop by Fifty anyway because I still hadn’t tried his award-winning cocktail. So I was like, fine you win I’ll go to your bar and drink the delicious cocktail you’ve created, twist my arm why don’t ya!?
The Vibe: Alright, more disclosure. I’ve been to Fifty before. For this blog, I try to go to only new spots so I can get a real first look at a place. BUT I’ve never been to Fifty alone or at a busy hour, so I’m kind of surprised to see it so bustling (though I should’ve expected a popular West Village restaurant to be hoppin’ at prime time on a Thursday). I settle in at the only bar stool available. The age range here is 35-70, and everyone seems like they must summer on the Cape. It’s mostly groups, a Thirsty Thursday after-work crowd presumably. Most of the men are wearing suits with sneakers. There are two women next to me, probably in their 50s, asking about the single malts. Kill em ladies. The space itself is beautiful, with a gorgeous wooden back bar, marble bar top and comfy gray bar stools. It’s homey yet elegant (and now I feel like I’m writing for Architectural Digest).
The Bartender: Veronica’s behind the bar tonight. I’ve met her a few times before and she makes me feel right at home, asking if I’ve got any acting gigs lined up. She knows her shit and she’s great to chill with. And I’m not getting preferential treatment; she’s incredible with everyone, and she makes sure that woman next to me gets a Scotch she loves.
The Drank: They’ve got a great looking spring menu, but I’m here for the It Was All A Dream: Bacardi Ocho, passionfruit, averno amaro, orange juice and allspice dram. You guys. This drink is outrageous. Tropics in a glass. Seriously, it makes me feel like I’m in the DR and I’ve never been there. I may be biased because Darnell’s my friend, but he won the East Coast leg of the Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition with this drink and he’s taking it to the global finals in Berlin next month. So yeah. It’s legit.
Was I Hit On? A middle aged man wearing a blue plaid shirt and a wedding ring sits down a seat away from me. He orders a martini, and as he’s looking at the food menu, he pulls the classic “so what should I eat here?” When I’m like, “are you talking to me?” he says “you come here a lot?” And I’m ready to throw up. But it’s far from over. I find out his name is Justin and he invests in oil and gas companies. “You know, dirty energy” he says with a smirk. Under my breath I mutter: “at least you know it’s dirty.” He takes this to mean I’m interested in him and in anything he has to say. Here are some of the topics Justin mansplains to me while I attempt to read my book: real estate prices in downtown Manhattan, the political climate of West Africa, how he could never be vegetarian because he’d be “afraid of going hungry.” Oh, Justin. I feel so bad for your wife.
Should You Drink Here Alone? YES. Fuck the Justins of the world. While they exist in nice Manhattan establishments by nature, they should not deter you from enjoying your time here. Fifty is a great restaurant with incredible cocktails and an amazing staff. And trust me. It’s worth a visit just for that first sip of It Was All A Dream!