One if by Land, Two if by Sea
17 Barrow St btw 7th Ave S and W 4th St, West Village
The Place: A romantic New York staple in a landmarked carriage house.
The Time: Sunday September 23, 6:30pm. Ok real talk - I am only here because my college buddy is the bar manager. Otherwise I would never stumble into this fancy-ass restaurant with a $100 prix-fixe menu and no sign outside. As a lifelong New Yorker, I first went to One if by Land, Two if by Sea as a 10 year old picky eater, dragged here for my mom’s birthday dinner. And honestly I never thought I’d set foot in it again. But my friend’s worked here almost three years and designed the cocktail list so I definitely owe him a visit.
The Vibe: Yeah this is certainly a special occasion restaurant. I take a seat at the end of the bar right in front of my friend, Evan, easy because no one else is at the bar. There are tables dressed with white tablecloths, roses and candles. Massive chandeliers fill the high ceilings. There’s not one, but two fireplaces. They’re not fired up right now but would be extremely cozy in the cold weather. The clientele here is exclusively couples on dates and larger groups of families, presumably for Mom’s birthday dinner. Everyone has on their Sunday best; I feel out of place in jeans. There’s a pianist playing delicate music and wearing a bowler hat, for fuck’s sake. But it’s lovely and peaceful, though definitely too dark to read a book because they’re going for that soft romantic lighting thing. Great for a date, less great for me.
The Bartender: Alright - I’m biased because I am friends with Evan. And I guess you could say that I’m not really drinking alone since I can talk to Evan. But he’s a very good bartender and has to make drinks for tables and take care of people who are not me! There are a lot of other people who work here, though Evan is the only bartender. The servers and basically everyone else are wearing approximations of a tuxedos. Except Evan, who wears the classic dress shirt, vest and tie combo of “serious bartenders.”
The Drank: Even though it’s newly fall, they’re still on their summer menu. Evan makes me a Noble Martini - Belvedere vodka, apricot, peach, frangelico, lemon, honey syrup and saffron tincture. A lotta things to fit in one cocktail glass but it’s yum. Even though I am not a vodka fan, there’s a bunch of other shit happening. It’s fruity, it’s honey-y, just a bit tart and earthy. Into it.
Was I Hit On? The only other people who join me at the bar are couples, and they’re soon gone when their table is ready. I ask Evan how many proposals he’s witnessed. “Approximately 175.” Then one regular, named Dave, takes a seat at the bar near me. He’s here for a beer before seeing a movie at IFC. He’s perfectly pleasant and when he leaves, he tips Evan with a silver coin. That is how fancy this place is, sometimes the bartenders get tipped in SILVER. I can’t.
Should You Drink Here Alone? If you don’t bat an eye at $18 cocktails and want to drink it in peace, One if by Land, Two if by Sea is a great choice. On the off chance that one of the regulars does try to bother you, I have no doubt that an army of tuxedoed staffers would come to your rescue. And who knows, while you’re here you just might see someone put a ring on it.