Even though New York is still mired in the Winter That Wouldn’t Quit, it’s time our thoughts turn to warmer weather plans. And while March is usually a lie, coming in like a lion and leaving out like, well, a lion, I ‘d rather turn my thoughts to how I’m going to be spending my spring and summer, than dwelling on how much I wished I had a Tauntaun to climb into during a particularly frosty morning.
So here’s the good news: We’re closer to the first day of spring (March 20) than we are to the heart of winter. And here’s even better news: I’ve scoped out a couple of great new bars were you’ll want to while away the evenings waiting for the big thaw and then make part of your regular rotation. You’re welcome.
Friendly service is the hallmark of every Danny Meyer restaurant, from Union Square Cafe and Blue Smoke to The Modern and Shake Shack, so it’s no wonder that Porchlight, his latest venture—and first standalone cocktail bar—is homey and welcoming. How welcoming? There’s an actual porch indoors, complete with rocking chairs for laid back good times.
If all this sounds downright down homey, that’s no accident. Meyers and Mark Maynard-Parisi, the senior managing partner of his Blue Smoke ventures, are upfront with their intent to bring Southern-style drinks and nibbles, as well as Southern hospitality to the extreme westside of Chelsea.
The space itself is cavernous and I, for one, am glad there’s a place to get creative cocktails without having to body check the next woman for space at the bar. Hell, you can probably even get a seat! (I know, it sounds crazy, right?). There’s even a game room in the back which can be rented out for private parties.
Exposed brick abounds accented with warm brown leather from the barstools to the long curving banquet and row of booths (I told you this place was big). Caramel-colored wood serves as an accent point on the bar front along with raw wood beams, reclaimed from Hurricane Sandy damage.
Sippin’ by Porchlight
The bar program is overseen by Booker & Dax vet Nicholas Bennett. In keeping with the bar’s stated leanings, the cocktail offerings include classic down South drinks like the Sazerac (cognac, Herbsaint and Peychaud’s bitters), a Whiskey & Cola featuring corn whiskey and housemade cola syrup served on the side in a mini “Coke” bottle. Two personal favorites are the Behind the Mule, a clever play on the Moscow Mule made with George Dickel White Dog, Katz’s Rock & Rye, ginger, lime and raspberry vinegar, and the Gun Metal Blue, a neon blue concoction made with mezcal, Blue Curacao, peach brandy and cinnamon syrup that is destined to show up in your Instagram feed all summer.
The Behind the Mule is refreshing, with the ginger adding a nice crispness, while the Gun Metal Blue is a revelation—smokey courtesy of the mezcal, slightly bitter from the cinnamon syrup but nicely balanced by the peach brandy.
Bar snacks include boiled peanut hummus and veggies, oyster shooters, warm bourbon bar nuts and smoky beef jerky, as well as more substantial fare like fried frog legs and a bison burger.
The next time you’re in the area, Porchlight is definitely worth a stop and rest assured, they’ll have the Welcome Mat out for your visit.
Porchlight is located at 271 11th Avenue on the corner of 28th street; This week’s hours: Monday – Wednesday 6pm-12am, and Thursday – Saturday 6pm – 2am
Regular hours: Monday – Wednesday 12pm – 12am, Thursday – Saturday 12pm – 2am