FIFTY

50 Commerce St btw Barrow St and Bedford St, West Village

The Place: A modern New American restaurant tucked away on a romantic little block in the West Village. And, full disclosure here, the place where my bartending bud Darnell runs a really dope cocktail program.

The Time: Thursday April 13, 7:30pm. I was hanging around Manhattan during the day for various odds and ends, when I realized I hadn’t seen Darnell in a while. Texted him, asked if he was working tonight. He said no but he told me to stop by Fifty anyway because I still hadn’t tried his award-winning cocktail. So I was like, fine you win I’ll go to your bar and drink the delicious cocktail you’ve created, twist my arm why don’t ya!?

The Vibe: Alright, more disclosure. I’ve been to Fifty before. For this blog, I try to go to all new spots so I can get a real first look at a place. BUT I’ve never been to Fifty alone or at a busy hour, so I’m kind of surprised to see it so bustling (though I should’ve expected a popular West Village restaurant to be hoppin’ at prime time on a Thursday). I settle in at the only bar stool available. The age range here is 35-70, and everyone seems like they must summer on the Cape. It’s mostly groups, a thirsty Thursday after-work crowd presumably. Most of the men are wearing suits with sneakers. There are two women next to me, probably in their 50s, asking about the single malts. Kill em ladies. The space itself is beautiful, with a gorgeous wooden back bar, marble bar top and comfy gray bar stools. It’s homey yet elegant (and now I feel like I’m writing for Architectural Digest).

The Bartender: Veronica’s behind the bar tonight. I’ve met her a few times before and she makes me feel right at home, asking if I’ve got any gigs lined up. She knows her shit and she’s great to chill with. And I’m not getting preferential treatment; she’s awesome with everyone, and she makes sure that woman next to me gets a Scotch she loves.

The Drank: They’ve got a great looking spring menu, but I’m here for the It Was All A Dream: Bacardi Ocho, passionfruit, averno amaro, orange juice and allspice dram. You guys. This drink is outrageous. Tropics in a glass. Seriously, it makes me feel like I’m in the DR and I’ve never been there. I may be biased because Darnell’s my friend, but he won the East Coast leg of the Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition with this drink and he’s taking it to the global finals in Berlin next month. So yeah. It’s legit.

Was I Hit On? A middle aged man wearing a blue plaid shirt and a wedding ring sits down a seat away from me. He orders a martini, and as he’s looking at the food menu, he pulls the classic “so what should I eat here?” When I’m like, “are you talking to me?” he says “you come here a lot?” And I’m ready to throw up. But it’s far from over. I find out his name is Justin and he invests in oil and gas companies. “You know, dirty energy” he says with a smirk. Under my breath I mutter: “at least you know it’s dirty.” He takes this to mean I’m interested in him and in anything he has to say. Here are some of the topics Justin mansplains to me while I attempt to read my book: real estate prices in downtown Manhattan, the political climate of West Africa, how he could never be vegetarian because he’d be “afraid of going hungry.” Oh, Justin. I feel so bad for your wife.

Should You Drink Here Alone? YES. Fuck the Justins of the world. While they exist in nice Manhattan establishments by nature, they should not deter you from enjoying your time here. Fifty is a great restaurant with incredible cocktails and an amazing staff. And trust me. It’s worth a visit just for that first sip of It Was All A Dream!

MAYSVILLE

17 W 26th St btw Broadway and 6th Ave, Flatiron

The Place: A big beautiful bourbon bar off Broadway. (Sorry. I had to.)

The Time: Sunday April 2, 6pm. My friend and I were in midtown having a meeting for our upcoming cocktail book (more on that soon!) when the day became gorgeous. After we parted ways, I decided to take a nice long walk around Manhattan. I found myself in Flatiron, and walking by Maysville, I thought, “it’s not too early to start drinking bourbon, right?” Right, she answers.

The Vibe: It’s definitely larger and more upscale than the cozy little whiskey bars I’m used to in my corner of Brooklyn, but it’s easy to make myself at home at the bar. There’s a great light coming through the big window, a lovely reminder that spring is, indeed, on its way. The high ceilings are nice, something I’m now realizing seems to be ubiquitous of other Flatiron bars, but make the space feel cavernous. Mirrors of different shapes and sizes fill the back wall. The other wall has three enormous paintings of horses, and I later find out they were painted by the owner’s mother-in-law! It’s a very quiet, pleasant Sunday early evening crowd. A first date to my right, two men to my left, a couple at a table in the back. They’re playing Solange!?! I’m good here.

The Bartender: A lovely woman with really kind eyes and a nice demeanor. She is super apologetic when the flatbread I order comes with pig ears after I asked for it without pig ears because I don’t do things like eat pig ears.

The Drank: The stunning back bar is filled with all different whiskeys, and when I’m handed the menu, I’m also handed a September-issue-of-Vogue-sized book of whiskeys. But I go with the Nor’easter, a cocktail of bourbon, ginger beer, lime and maple. Spicy, citrusy, refreshing, yet it kinda tastes like a regular Kentucky Mule. I’m okay with that though.

Was I Hit On? No. But I spend a lot of my time eavesdropping on a conversation between two late 20s guys, both in glasses and plaid shirts. One guy is talking about a girl he’s seeing who is like SUPER CHILL and says what she wants and does what she wants and is really open and understanding but doesn’t want a relationship so he likes where it’s going so far. The other guy processes all this and eventually says, “…wow.” They met at a work happy hour. Her name is Megan. Shoutout to all the Megans out there getting what they want from this world and not apologizing for it!

Should You Drink Here Alone? Sure. I prefer my whiskey bars a little homier, so I might stick to my regular joints in BK for my whiskey fix. But Maysville is definitely a nice place, and if I was in the neighborhood, I’d stop in again. If only to hear about how my girl Megan is doing.