The downstairs bar inside Hotel Ivy will be overseen by Jesse Held, the main bar man of Jester Concepts and overseen by Jeff Erkkila, liquid chef. "We're not trying to reinvent the wheel," Held said. "We're just trying to pimp it out... put some shiny rims on it and watch it spin."
Like the other bars that Held has run, the focus will be primarily on the customer experience, but not in ways we've seen or tasted before. Erkkila is meanwhile ordering up several types of culinary tools more used to living in the kitchen than behind the bar for creating streamlined flavors to rejuvenate classic cocktails. "We're spending a lot of money on equipment," Held said.
But first let's talk about your experience. Park the car with the complimentary valet, enter through the hotel and descend downstairs where there are stained glass accents and large seating sections that will be available for group reservations. Ordering straight off the menu where there will be basic cocktails, done well in the $8 range or drinks to challenge that palate that will cost more, based on the labor intensive process used to build them. There will even be customizable drink flights built upon your mood. Just get canned? Cat video went viral? Forgot and fed your Gremlin after midnight? There's a flight for that.
Erkkila is even toying with a bicarbonate tablet (something that goes pop pop fizz fizz) to dose a flat drink into a fizzy lifting cocktail.
The drinks themselves are harnessing all kinds of cookery. Erkkila's career began as a chef, and his flavor creations will reflect that as well as entirely new sensations. Imagine sipping on a drink with a pomegranate flavored ice cube that bleeds up into the glass as it slowly melts. Yes, there will be an ice program and in addition to hand chipping and other modern cocktail techniques, they are working on freezing booze into the ice so that the spirit evolves as it dissolves, rather than just straight up diluting the drink. He and Held are already aging a shitload of limoncello to serve inside and are toying with a peach schnapps sort of situation. There is even a possiblity that we might have the first local bar to serve powdered alcohol. Nothing is outside the realm of possibility for this crew, even bringing back some drinks lost to the ages (I heard the words "Sea Breeze," but am having a hard time digesting that.)
Hiring is happening right now and training will be intense for the new talent soon to fill this bar (or tippling house - Held's preferred term. Just don't call it a speakeasy. "There are windows - there is nothing speakeasy about this!")
The food menu will be available only in the bar and is being written by Michael DeCamp, the head chef for the entire Hotel Ivy project. Food will be served right up until bar close. So, add this to your list of spots for late night eats.
Look for a "May-une" opening. We'll be dropping fizzy tabs before the summer hits its high.
- Constantine [website]