“If I could have lived as an actress in any period, it would have been the 1920s – I would have loved to have been part of that speakeasy era.” ~ Lauren Bacall
The Upper East Side
Guys the Upper East Side is getting hip.
Okay it has always been hip. Despite its’ “stuck up,” old money, and Gossip Girl reputation, blocks from Madison and Park, on Second Ave are restaurants that boast more Brooklyn inspired restaurants then the five star posh it is otherwise known for.
The people who live and work in the Upper East Side are full of pride for the neighborhood. As someone who has lived in the ‘hood for six years, I am happy to count myself in that. From coffee joints like DTUT and Cafe Jax, to bars like The Penrose and Infirmary, it is a neighborhood that despite its reputation, or perhaps because of it, celebrates in the beauty and neighborhood-ness (New word alert) you wouldn’t expect from New York.
Second Avenue had hit a rough patch for awhile with the years long construction of the Second Avenue Subway hurting many of the businesses located on the Avenue. With it finally opening last January, the Upper East Side is one again bustling with the addition of new, hip, and insanely cool restaurants and bars.
While speakeasies are a dime a dozen in the village, you wouldn’t expect to find one on the Upper East Side. Which is ironic because the vibes of old money and rule breaking are completely Upper East Side. And that is why UES is so darn perfect.
I admit this place came as a complete surprise to me. I had no idea it was a Speakeasy. And I had been buying ice cream from here for months!
Yes, guys, the front is an ice cream shop. An ice cream shop that took forever to be built, which my friend and I commented endlessly about, because why was it taking forever to be built? That was until she discovered what was behind the wall of pinted ice cream. A secret she shared with me.
May I see the Storage Room Please?
As unsuspecting customers ordered ice cream in sweat pants and baggy sweatshirts, we walked in dressed to the nines. You see the storage part of the ice cream shop has a very strict business dress code. A woman in chic black stood by the door and looked at us expectantly.
“May we see the Storage Room please?” we asked. For those are the magic words to get in. From there, a secret switch is flipped, which you have to find, revealing that the wall of pints are not just for decoration, but in fact hiding a door that opens up into a small coat room.
The storage room while small, is big on ambience, which is in part why I love this place. The first time I went, was on Valentine’s Day and they had gone all out decorating it. the decor is retro 1920’s inspired, with pictures and gorgeous chandeliers adorning the walls and ceiling. Even the drinks are artistically displayed behind the bar. It is a time hop back to the Al Capone Era, but with a New York twist, done UES style.
If ambience doesn’t win you over, the drinks will. They are a true ode to the Upper East Side with names like the Second Avenue Subway and Absolutely Bradshaw. Concoctions that would make any mixologist proud, they not only display how much boozy goodness are in each one, but are themselves served in cute displays, from goblets with platters, to teacups, to even a box. No detail is overlooked.
In fact the Second Avenue Subway, which I had ordered occasionally comes with a surprise. And yes it is real.
My favorite drink was the champagne float they served during Valentine’s Day week. Prosecco and your choice of ice cream (I did salted caramel) was a true party in the mouth and my favorite thing for weeks!
When I say no detail is overlooked that includes friendly attentive waitstaff. They are helpful and observant, without being overbearing. They are also super friendly, offering to take pictures, and talk to you when they have time.
A huge draw to this bar is the fact they have a steady flow, not of alcohol, (though they do) but water. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I have to ask for water constantly and UES is on it. My water glass has not gone empty once since I have started going here. It helps at once with the drinking AND the hangovers the next day.
The place to go
The Storage Room is my new favorite “It” place. It is what the Upper East Side has been missing. It helps that instead of a thirty minute train ride downtown, I can walk four blocks from my apartment and it is right there welcoming me.
Not only is UES nique in the combination of ice cream and speakeasy, but the people who work there make it worthwhile to keep coming back. If you are in New York you NEED to go!
Have you ever been to a speakeasy? What is your favorite bar to go too?