The name might not sound auspicious, but the Dead Rabbit is the most exciting new bar in New York City, bar none. The mid-19th century-styled drinking saloon takes its unusual moniker from an Irish street gang that roamed Lower Manhattan in the 1850s (if you must know, they were a part of the Roach Guards, also known as the Black Birds. But I digress.).
The first floor is a stand-up only taproom–the floor covered in sawdust–serving craft beers to a not-so-salty crew of Wall Streeters. Yet the bar maintains an authentic saloon vibe, doling out snacks like fried oysters and boiled eggs with every drink order.
Heading upstairs to the deep green parlor, prepare to enter cocktail nirvana. For cocktail nerds, this is Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory, mouth foaming territory–just check out the menu). The bar is festooned with absinthe fountains and Victorian punch bowls and dozens of bottles of potions and tinctures that enrich the libations. The cocktail manual (an actual bound book) features more than 70 historically accurate cocktails inspired by pre-Prohibition legends like Jerry Thomas. Ever tried a bishop, daisy, or smash? Now’s your chance. I started out with a refreshing riff on the Paloma (in this case, tequila, salt essence, and Italian grapefruit soda), then enjoyed the Cider #4 (pear eau de vie, lemon sherbet, lemon juice, quince jelly, cucumber extract, and Christian Drouin Cidre Poire). From there, things got a little foggy.
Like home cooks who embark on ambitious “cook the book” projects, I may be starting a “cook the rabbit’s liver” adventure to sample all 72 cocktails. The Dead Rabbit is a worthy adversary. But I think I’m up for the challenge!
Photo Credit: Andrew Kist / Hanna Lee Communications, Inc.