Mr. Purple is Redefining the NYC Rooftop Bar

IMG_2211.JPG

Forget labels.

Opposite of me there is a couple, friends, what have you. One sports a poofy hairdo with blond tips, and the other a high-n-tight cut with a dad cap. They share a twine corner table for lack of space, one sitting on the other’s lap, both smiling, carrying Tecates and sipping with leisure.

Across the room, an expansive couch section remains unoccupied. It’s reserved for VIP clientele, presumptive influencers who smile into their Instagram feed to sway even more urbanites to pack themselves 2-by-2 on twine corner tables.

IMG_1156You enter on the fifteenth floor. Limpid light enters into a room that’s surrounded by scenic metal. To the South is Fidi, East is Brooklyn, West is Soho. But here you are in the Lower East Side. This isn’t just another rooftop; Mr. Purple is a rooftop redefined.

Post industrial lighting dangles like lanterns in an ore mine, no, more like fluorescent jellyfish in the deep sea. Rooftops are usually appreciated from the outside, and Mr. Purple doesn’t disappoint.

IMG_1152IMG_1154

They took time however, to decorate the interior. Ropes strung across the ceiling like vines in a canopy. And this is what I mean when I say that they are redefining the rooftop.

An NYC rooftop is made up of expensive drinks, tourists, faux artists, and a general NYC classist malaise. Mr. Purple traverses this tight rope, by I think, one factor alone said three times…Location, location, location. Amid the Attaboys, Bar Gotos, and Nightcaps, there are some heavy hitters in the cocktail scene. And by being nearby, it attracts the people who frequent these bars, and who just have something different in mind for the night.

It must be said that Mr. Purple does flirt with all of these rooftop features. It is pricey, it does have some tourists, and it does host some judgey looks as you pass, but it also goes beyond these features.

IMG_1172IMG_1170

You’ll see tinder dates, meet ups, old friends and sorority sisters, Argentinian newcomers, French bankers, skinny and plus sized models, the director, cast and crew– and if you get lucky, maybe you’ll see Mr. Purple.

No, not really, unless you count the bar manager standing over there with his arms crossed. Mr. Purple actually derives its name from Adam Purple, a controversial gardener who constructed New York’s Garden of Eden nearby. This glossy rooftop bar is supposed to pay homage, but paradoxically does the opposite, by ‘standing for’ exactly what Mr. Purple opposed. Urban expansion.

The drinks:

They have a line of what I like to call “specialty” drinks, which are cocktails particular to a bar. I took the Barrel of Monkeys, while my gf ordered the eponymous drink, Mr. Purple.

IMG_1161

Barrel of Monkeys: Banana Infused Jameson Black Barrel, Bayou Select Rum, Fresh Pineapple, Lemon Juice, Cinnamon, Cardamom

Mr. Purple: Casamigos Reposado Tequila, Cranberry Liqueur, Allspice Dram, Apple, Lemon. served punch style

Both drinks were meh, but I was still delighted by their extensive specialty menu. And delighted to drink in the view as much as the cocktail.

Con Amor,

Alexander Cohiba

Insta: @mrpurplenyc

 

 

The Perfect Negroni at Dante NYC

Dante's
from Pinterest

During Negroni week, arguably the dopest week of the year, me and the gov’na rendezvoused over libations at this quaint, yet highly recommended Italian Bistro. It’s a joint that I’ve read much about, but up until now, I hadn’t had the pleasure.

At first impression, the inside makes you want to redo your sorry excuse of a kitchen.  Plants, white accents, natural light, classic tiling oozes vintage Greenwich Village, but rings contemporary as well. The outside makes you want to judge with  distinguished authority.

Breezy Parisian seating on the south end of Macdougal provides ample space for relaxation, and enough traffic for people watching. The houses across the way are painted vibrant hues. Every once in a while a UPS truck will block your view, and a dog from the far table will bark at the delivery man. The wind picks up, and dares to swipe your napkin from the table. The glassware is sparkling, vintage looking, but is actually new and from the supplier cocktail kingdom.

The drinks are crisp, tart, impressionable.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

I took this vermillion baddie of a drink.

The Negroni moves across your palette like models on a Milanese runway. Smooth, practiced, and full-bodied this cocktail was awarded the prestige of a Triple Crown Drink, which places it alongside the company of the Manhattan and Martini.

Originating in Florence, when Mr. Negroni asked for Gin instead of soda in an Americano. Bold move. The bartender, feeling himself, threw in an orange wedge just because. And like magic, Mr. Negroni slated his own gold star in the walk of cocktail fame.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

This tall, tan and handsome drink is the Garibaldi.

We got the juice, forreal, we got Orange juice. Blended until fluffy, then they pour Campari into polished glass. Easy to assemble, but noteworthy. Its another of the bar’s favorites, but has proliferated throughout the world as a distinguished summer beverage.

f83010f686d7e230929b530d468c84a9
from Pinterest
c1486b21ba8c17c047e4fec704cdff1d
from Pinterest
Dante is a place that has, with evidence backing it, a mastery of its craft. To me its a perfected version of what it embodies, a laid back, but visually tickling tavern that specializes in Italian Food & Drink. You can get a banging Espresso, Bolognese, or Flatbread, but I’d always recommend one of their drinks.

Negroni

Pile in an Old Fashioned Glass filled with ice, stir 5 times, and garnish.

Garibaldi

  • 1 1/2 ounces of Campari
  • Fresh Orange Juice
  • Orange Wedge for Garnish

Blend the OJ until foamy, pour into an iced Collins Glass and garnish.

Con Amor,

Alexander Cohiba

 

Insta: @Dantenewyorkcity

 

 

Astoria: Finding your Second Home at the RAR Bar

On the outside, it resembles a little Bohemian haven that you’d expect to catch while whizzing past the town of Woodstock. Wooden trinkets cover the windows, the chandeliers are crafted from wine glasses, live music is often emanating, and when it’s not live, it’s music from the Woodstock Era, Crosby Stills, Hendrix, Credence Clearwater. This bar occupies a very special place in my New York experience. And when I move from Astoria this summer, it will be dearly missed.

Rest-au-rant or RAR bar is at once replaceable and irreplaceable (think U2 With or Without You), because it’s a component vital to any neighborhood. It’s the bar next door, metaphorically and literally.

And what’s so special about Rest-au-rant?

IMG_0946Frankly, it’s not the food. Although their hamburger with a slice of Gorgonzola, 3$ Sliders, No Commitment Charcuterie, and a couple of others get the job done. A couple of plates however, have left me with quizzical looks.

The events that they host, Comedy Night (Tuesday), Live Music (Thursday & Saturday), Film Night (Sunday), are very cool, and I oft-go to them, but they are nothing specific to this bar.

IMG_0945It’s the vibe. The vibe is extraordinary, especially on humdrum, foggy Winter Thursday nights when it’s just you and a hatful of other faces jaded from the city life. Like a randomly unfriendly patron once told me during a long talk, ‘I don’t talk to random people at bars.’ He was an indie Movie director, with Andy Warholic looks, and a mercurial gaze that shifted from his drink to his phone screen. But we talked, and talked, until it was time for a nightcap and to head our separate ways.

Another night, I met a Puerto-Rican businessman with girlfriend troubles. We talked about Hawaiian-Puerto Ricans, the diaspora. My family’s diaspora. He seemed to take off his troubles with his winter coat, as he showed me a Youtube video of how these two little islands connected.

Once I met a pair of lawyers who had just left the courthouse. They just needed to blow off some steam with Friday afternoon Pear Martinis, and pork belly tacos. I was there to get some Headspace, but ended up with free tacos and a great time with a convivial bunch of never-see-you-agains.

IMG_0948Tina, the owner of the bar, hand-crafted most of the items that give the bar that boho-chic flavor. She says that she wants it to be a gathering spot for the artists in the neighborhood, and she has succeeded while still having a clientele that are the unpretentious, Astorian leftovers from the pre L-line shift. The bar itself is built in a horseshoe shape that she designed. The plates are molded and crafted for the particular dish. The stage for live music was assembled by her.

DB, the daytime bartender is the friendliest, most laid-back guy you’ll ever meet. He played American Roots music down across the Mason-Dixon, and graced us by coming up North.  I bought his album. No shame. And every time I’ve walked in, he’s given me a new viewpoint on anything that’s been troubling me.

IMG_0944
My gf acting a fool

They know what kind of beer I want when I sit down; they boast a real community of locals, not just eccentric individuals who reach for attention, but genuine, humble, as salt of the earth as you can get in the biggest city in the U.S; and they are the embodiment of the second home–an antithesis to those wayward souls who languish over a drink in a stuffy Manhattan cocktail bar.

Basically, find yourself a Rar Bar and hold on for as long as you can.

Con Amor,

Alexander Cohiba

Address:  30-01 35th Ave #1, Queens, NY 11106

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/RaR-Bar-120276598029985/

Insta: @tinasrarbar

Web: http://rarbarlic.com/rarbar/welcome.html

A Guide to the Etiquette and Character Surrounding Speakeasies Pt. 1

The Death of the Speakeasy

What is a Speakeasy without its secrecy? A bar with a quirky entrance.

The term Speakeasy is an evocative concept, or at least, it used to be.  It was Kafka-esque, an unknown behind an unmarked door.

I mean, we’re all aware of their prohibition origins. We all know that they are meant to be a secret, or at least on the hush hush. Yet, when I started caring, I started knowing—and it should never be that easy. I hear about NYC Speakeasies as often as I hear about rallies at NYU…And maybe I need to get my priorities in check (it’s possible isn’t it?), but no I will not take all the blame.

Millennials are entitled, to the point of sniveling sometimes, and no doubt we have good intentions.  This is why everyone has access to Speakeasies, because we think we all deserve it!  As a purist, I’m calling for referendum, a complete shift in the way Speakeasies are talked about, or…may they rest in peace.

  1. As Conversation Topics

The first problem is intrinsic—Speakeasies shouldn’t by any means be a casual topic of conversation. They were once exclusive, arcane, where you go to get a scotch and soda and some form of ‘different’ entertainment. Nowadays, they’re full of schlubs with nice watches.

My friend was in town for a long weekend, and told me that the prior night he’d gone to a Speakeasy in the Lower East Side (his first night in!). He seemed proud, as if he had already penetrated the inner workings of New York. Frankly, this conversation shouldn’t have taken place.

    2. In Social Media

The second problem is social media. Foursquare, and Yelp to be more precise—but Instagram is guilty as well.  There are a deluge–far too many–photos, reviews, and write-ups about these places. Not only is it counterintuitive to have so much publicity surrounding a secret place, it’s a damn abomination.

We have faux speakeasies, speakeasies that are actually named Please Don’t Tell, speakeasies that call themselves speakeasies solely because it’s dark and they have antique decor ‘that recalls the great era of the New Deal.’ You can even search Speakeasy, so that if you’re having difficulty finding it, Maps can instantly clear that up for you. 

    3. Our Entitlement

So, I’m convinced that the third problem is our generation. Our generation is killing everything that was once sacred. Everyone’s seen the pyramid of the Louvre, just as we’ve all seen Machu Picchu dozens and dozens of times. Our generation is killing the swimming pigs in Bahamas. Our generation is fiddling with, re-appropriating, and unearthing everything that once was.

 //giphy.com/embed/11tFHQsFRpeoRa

I’m asking that we save the Speakeasy, by not mentioning it anymore. Please, let it be.

Stay tuned for my proposal…

Con Amor,

Mr. Cohiba

4 Class Alternatives to your Basic Friend the Gin and Tonic

In recent history, the Gin and Tonic has somehow made its way back into the realm of ‘acceptable’ at cocktail bars and parties. I’m here to clarify—the Gin and Tonic is the best worst drink at the bar. Why do I say this? Because it’s reliable, cheap, but is still, at the end of the day, a basic well drink.  It’s the only drink that you can condense into two letters, yell at a bartender over a chaotic club, and they’ll be like, ‘gotcha.’ It has its purposes.

I know some people who try to spice things up by adding cucumber or strawberries to the mix, but honestly, they need to settle down. My boss has a single gin that he designates as ‘his’ gin for ‘his’ gin-tonics, and there’s nothing worse. (kidding)

Learning some tricks for your ordering game is imperative for clambering up that social ladder, because 1. The bartender may not know it, and then you have something to yammer about while they google how to make one. 2. People stare at you in awe. 3. The only genuine reason: there’s nothing satisfying about having that bedrock drink for every night you go out, especially when it’s a G & T.

So, here are four alternate gin cocktails, barring any occasion that comes up.

gin-rickey

Gin Rickey

Out of the four, the Gin Rickey is the mysterious one. The one that rings a bell somewhere far off, but no, your friends have never tried it. It’s best reserved for that hipster pub that prides itself on its cocktails. They may serve truffle mac and cheese and have an actual fireplace. With a tart taste from muddled lime, and a refreshing finish, the Gin Rickey is just a nuance away from your old pal the G & T.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 ounces of Gin 1 lime

Club soda Simple syrup to taste

With a highball glass of ice, begin by adding Gin. Juice the lime, add and drop in the peels. Top off with Club Soda. Add simple syrup and stir to taste.

gimlet

Gimlet

The Gimlet is the regal one, reserved for upscale cocktail houses where you probably won’t see me. It’s exotic, great for catching up with friends that are visiting town, and emphasizing how much you’ve changed since moving to the big city. Served in a true cocktail glass, this emerald of a drink leaves no mystery to why it was Betty Draper’s go-to. The taste is strong, and tart, best had in small sips.

Ingredients:

2 ounces gin 1/2 ounce lime juice

1 lime wedge

tom-collins

Tom Collins

The eldest of the four, the Tom Collins is considered one of the original cocktails. This means that unless you have an experienced vet behind the bar, it’ll turn out nearly unpalatable.  So save this for a bar that you trust. It’s also suited for your friend who uses the verb ‘imbibe.’ You can pontificate your pretensions to each other. The drink can vary from sweet, to sour, to strong depending on how your bartender makes it.

Ingredients:

2 ounces gin 3 ounces club soda

1 ounce lemon juice 1 teaspoon sugar

1 maraschino cherry 1 orange wedge

In an iced shaker, add gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake, and strain into a collins glass 3/4 full of ice cubes. Top of with club soda and stir. Drop the cherry and garnish with the orange.

french-75

French 75

Gin and champagne. This drink was created for after-works when you’ve accomplished something big, and find it superfluous to go home before reconvening to celebrate. Try that coveted Midtown bar, and splurge. Your french friend will deny it’s of their descent, that is until they’ve tried it. This drink is the smoothest of the four, and is by far the most festive.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 ounces of Gin 2 teaspoons of sugar

1 1/2 ounces of lemon juice 4 ounces of chilled champagne

Orange slice for garnish

Shake Gin, sugar and lemon juice and pour into a Collins glass.

Top off the glass with champagne, stir and garnish.

Con Amor,

Alexander Cohiba

The Ideal Drink—Tropical Cocktails at the Tiki Bikini in Nassau

Just as there is an ideal drink for each particular environment, it is the environment, in and for itself, which produces the ideal drink,” Mr. Cohiba

A portly, red man sits in a yellow inter tube, buoyed in the middle of impeccable blue waters. It’s a sight of stark contrasts, jarring to the eye from shore.

img_0623

Junkanoo, or as the locals call it ‘the long wharf’ is known for it’s sweeping sun-filled strip, like a South beach of the Bahamas. Palms sway overhead as shade, and the crash of the surf is only feet away. Cruise ships port nearby and drop swathes of restless vacationers each day. Shops  open, and the Bahamas is in business as the locals try to pawn wooden carvings, vibrant patterned dresses and massages on tourists. 

Plopped in the center of it all is a seaside shack known as the Tiki bikini hut. Their special of the day reads ‘4 shots and 4 beers for 10 Bahamian dollars,’ in lazy handwriting. The currency exchange is 1 to 1—it’s an amazing deal regardless.

But we’re on vacation, and it’s the down season, so why get hammered drunk when you can relax with a tropical libation.

img_0632-2

After a long trek to the island’s only McDonalds, where I purchased and mixed a McCafe and a Bounty bar Mcflurry, I returned to the beach to see my two comrades snoozing with faces full of sand.  My girlfriend has a habit of saying, ‘I fell asleep,’ every time she wakes up, still half in a dream state–I can’t help but smile at this. We shook our friend Brandon, and told him it was time for some drinks.

We walked up to a small bar area in the center, and almost immediately, the manager zoomed around the corner to greet us. He was a gregarious guy, and seemed to know everyone that sat on his barstools. Pointing at the two bartenders, he said ‘they’ll help you out,’ with a pat and a wink.

When the tourists hurry back to their cruiser,  the shipmates swing by for a quick drink. The locals then call it a day, start pack up their shops and huddle around the hut waiting for service. 

All together we tried these particularly sweet drinks.

img_0631I ordered a Sky Juice, a gin-coconut blend, my girlfriend ordered an orange drink called a Bahama Mama, and Brandon had the classic Pina Colada.

The Sky Juice was the strongest of the three, an interesting drink consisting of gin, coconut water, condensed milk, sugar and cinnamon. The two others are rum based drink–you know the Caribbean people and their rum. The Bahama Mama consists of light and dark rums, pineapple and orange juices shaken together and poured over ice. A Caribbean Pina Colada is pineapple juice, coconut water (as opposed to cream),  and light rum blended into frappe and garnished.

After a couple of these I looked around, and noticed everyone was feeling the island spirits.  The drinks weren’t amazing, but the vibe was just right and enough to carry you through  a velvet sunset. At this place and time, these drinks receive the highest honor of the ideal drink.

Con Amor,

Alexander Cohiba