Whether you knew it as the dingy writer and firefighter hangout of the ’80s and ’90s or the tourist- and frat-boy-packed venue it then became, it’s likely you have many fond, hazy memory of this legit West Village speakeasy. (It “opened” at the dawn of Prohibition.) The bar closed in 2007, and after a lengthy renovation, it’s back, looking as it has always looked but way nicer. (It might even be a little too polished for fans of the old spot.) The crowd chaos you either savored or abhorred is gone, replaced by a luxe reservations-only dinner menu and a complex, serious list of signature cocktails (walk in anytime, if there’s room). Pair Forono beets and smoked trout roe with, say, the One At a Time featuring spiced rhum agricole and chamomile tea, before diving into the bar’s much-lauded 86 burger.
THE DRINK TO DRINK: Cocktails, from the talented Jesse Duré, run a little on the sweet side (an emerging trend in alcohol- and bitters-driven NYC), so be prepared for that. The Mr. Easy (made with gin, yuzu, Suze liqueur, lemon and rosemary) is a bright, floral sipper.
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Reservations are required to sit down, and it’s first-come, first-served to stand. At present, there’s no standing at the bar, though.