Most creative professionals have worked in a bar at some point before becoming successful in their chosen art. But usually once they've hit it big time, they never looked back…unless Manhattan nightlife impresarios like Alex Likhtenstein and Ian Magid whisper in their ear. At EVR lounge in Midtown Manhattan, well-known performing artists, models or actors hop behind the bar to mix up signature drinks for Tuesday’s recurring “Art of Mixology” series. The series kickoff featured model Tyson Beckford as the celebrity guest bartender, followed by Michael K. Williams of Boardwalk Empire. On Wednesdays, a Blackbook magazine editor plays DJ for the night. The lines between staff, talent and customers are blurred at EVR, which is just one reason to like this new Midtown bar.
No matter what night of the week it is, in-house mixologist Orson Salicetti is a draw for people who follow cocktail culture. The former Apothéke mastermind has created two cocktail menus. The first features recipes that are billed as “Prohibition-inspired” but in many cases, have even older origins. Stripped-down, flawless versions of the Negroni, the Sidecar and the Mint Julep represent the classics, while the Metropolitan (vodka, cranberry, black currant liqueur, agave and lime) and the Chamomile Sour (vodka, ginger, Combier, lime and sparkling wine) have a more contemporary flavor profile.
The second menu reinvents the classics with cutting-edge ingredients and inspired flavors that somehow all make sense. You can journey from sour (the Americano Sour, made with Campari, Antica Carpano, sage, pink peppercorn, grapefruit and soda) to creamy-sweet (Pisco Grasshopper, made with vanilla ice cream, Pisco, mint and cocoa powder). Or you can do fruity – and for this, there are quite a few options, the most straightforward being the Beauty Leaf (tangerine, vodka, Yellow Chartreuse, agave nectar and lime).
Visually, EVR is a glossily handsome, contemporary space that doesn’t reveal its actual size until you get past the downstairs bar. The secretive space requires a knowledgeable guide for unveiling the venue’s best views (from the mezzanine) or discovering the rotating exhibit of pop and modern art, which may remain unfound without a familiar docent. EVR is fully engaged in that early-opening phase, trying to figure out the pieces of its identity—what nights work the best for events and whether it’s a late-night place or an after-work watering hole, or both. Right now, it’s trying a little bit of everything, which makes for a fun, unpredictable vibe.
In late February the venue rolled out a weekday happy hour and opened the “mixology bar-within-a-bar,” LIFT, supposedly found at mezzanine level where Salicetti’s second menu of specialty drinks is available. However, during our last visit we found the Art of Mixology action taking place at ground level, while the other spaces, particularly upstairs, took on a more “loungy” feeling. EVR has energy, feels happening and is to be commended for its eclectic offerings and crowd. It’s not a matter of finding out where the party is at EVR, it’s just the sense that there’s more than one and your challenge is to figure out which one is yours.