Their movements were balletic. Like robotic apothecaries, they created elixirs in a dizzying progression of steps.
They spun on their heels with perfect calibration, knowing exactly the degree of rotation needed to land on their spirit of choice, and spin back while the bottle was upended and measured into a jigger angled over the mixing glass.
The area behind the bar—their stage for the night—was tiny. A four-person trapeze act performing in your living room.
Jedi Knights, each sensing the others’ movements, and the bottles and delicate glasses wizzing by each other in a blur, barely passing by millimeters and avoiding a spectacular explosion of glassware (which happened later in the evening, but more on that later). Welcome to Angel’s Share, a speakeasy located in the East Village of Manhattan.
I’ve been there many times over the last few years, yet each time I wander a few steps past the entrance, confused how to gain access to its second floor perch overlooking the world below through a massive picture window.
If you’re looking for a romantic date, then sitting in front of this window, watching the snow fall with the warm sensation of booze caressing your soul, may just be the most memorable NY nightlife experience you can have.
A trip up the stairs to the Japanese restaurant, a quick turn to the left and a short walk to a non-descript door leads you to the unmarked entrance. The room is quiet, and only those who have a seat may remain—this is not the place to cram the bar four-deep and shout at a Jets game blaring on four TV’s simultaneously.
I sat at the bar, a child in front of the lion’s cage at the zoo, my eyes straining to keep up with the action. The back wall— lit from behind like a massive, adult-sized version of Lite-Brite—is stacked full of artisan spirits, liqueurs and small glass bottles seemingly stolen from a high-class perfumery in Paris. The place is pure eye candy for any spirits geek; you could spend hours going through the collection.
As I was finishing my Del Sasser (Bacon-infused Bourbon, Plum Liqueur, Pommegranate, Lime Juice, Balsamic Honey and Angustora Bitters), we heard a loud pop of exploding glass. I half-expected to see the girl at the end of the bar—three seats to my right—brandishing a jagged shard of glass to her boyfriend’s neck.
But sadly, no; they both stared at a lone, glass base sitting in the center of the bar, surrounded by a field of broken shards. They were dumbfounded. My first thought was that the glass must have been hot, and that the coolness of the drink had caused it to explode. But this was not the case; the guy had just taken the last sip of the drink, turned to look at his girl, and POW! Total destruction. A jealous glass, perhaps? “Keep your eyes on me, Jacko, not the broad!”
The crew descended in rehearsed, laser-like precision to clean up the refuse. While we sat astounded, they showed no emotion. They must have experience dealing with volatile glassware. Monopolizing pint glasses, cuvetous high-balls, possessive rocks glasses and the like. Libatious theatre at it’s best.
For more info on other NYC speakeasies, click HERE (and don’t even think they have websites, Johnny, they’re speakeasies, for God’s sake!)