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weinoo

Experimental Cocktail Club - 191 Chrystie St. on the LES

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Last night, a friend and I paid our first visit to the recently opened ECC, another branch of the cocktail lounge that first took Paris by storm in 2007 (following that with an ECC in London).

ECC is in the old Kush space, a lounge that I was never fortunate enough to (or, fortunate enough to never) set foot in. What's interesting is that the Paris ECC was modeled after the new wave of cocktail lounges that were opening in NYC and now NYC's ECC kind of looks like the type of lounge you might find in Paris. If you think this is confusing, it's not - our ECC is absolutely gorgeous inside, designed by the wife of one of the owner's; lots of French flea market finds, and I wish my living room looked like this. My pictures do not do it justice...

2012_05_09 ECC 4.jpg

The back bar is nice too...

2012_05_09 ECC 3.jpg

And the glassware, at least for now (because we all know what happens when the stems start breaking) is great...

2012_05_09 ECC Drink 1.jpg

That was my first cocktail, called Black Heart, from Joseph Akhavan at La Conserverie in Paris, and it's made of Buffalo Trace bourbon, Cynar, Luxardo Maraschino, a touch of French Roast Coffee, Bitterman's Boston Bittahs, a Laphroaig rinse and orange oils. A real winner, balanced as can be. My drinking companion started with the L'Americain: artichoke infused NP Sweet Vermouth, toasted walnut infused Campari, thyme water, orange oils - all of which is carbonated and bottled and served like this...

2012_05_09 ECC Drink 2.jpg

Which will be perfect for when those kids pour in on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and can't hold a glass. The drink is damn good, though it probably can use, and probably will get, some more carbonation.

I followed up with a classic Manhattan, and it was nice to be asked by my bartender (Aaron, iirc) whether I wanted a 2:1 or 3:1 ratio - I'm a classicist, so my 2:1 Rittenhouse Manhattan was just how I like it. My buddy moved on to a drink called The Artist: Drouin Calvados, verjus, pear and apple cider shrub, Peychaud's, Didier Meuzard Ratafia, Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe and Billecart-Salmon Champagne to top it all off - wowser.

Many of the drinks are creations of the bar manager Nicolas de Soto, a Frenchman who now lives most of the time just off of Avenue B. Some of you may have seen him behind the stick occasionally at Dram - I know I had. Nicolas' drinks are pretty complex, lots of infusions, but as I said above, balanced and delicious. He'll be working the bar here some nights, and overseeing the show all the time - a true gentleman who is as nice as can be.

Okay, okay - we did have a third round; after all, we were checking the place out. By this point, the place was filling up, and Xavier was working our end of one of two bars. He's a 7-year alumnus of Daniel, and quite the pro. So, the appropriately named The Last One: Cardinal Mendoza Brandy, Bonal Gentiane, Cocchi Barolo Chinato and Akanono carrot Shochu. Simple, and practically an aperitif, no? And the Curious Prescription, a tequila/mezcal lover's dream: Pueblo Viejo Reposado, Pukhart Pear Eau-de-Vie, La Cigarerra Manzanilla Sherry, housemade salted mezcal caramel syrup, lime juice and Bittermen's Habanero bitters.

Food will be soon to come; bar snacks, and they will be supplied by The Fat Radish, another one of my neighborhood faves.

I expect, and have heard from Nicolas, that ECC was already packed on the weekends...and will continue to be so. Doesn't matter to me, though - I rarely go out for drinks on Friday or Saturday nights - and if we do, it'll be earlier than the throngs.

And here's a tip to all the kiddies - if you want cranberry juice in your drinks, go soon. From what I've heard, it won't be available for long and if it stays on the menu, you may be paying a pretty premium for it. Have a real cocktail.

Comp Disclosure: Had to be a drink or two in there.

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Your living room doesn't look like that?

If only...

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You know I trust you Cocktail Guru..but that's a lot of flavor components in one cocktail, a lot to balance. Now you have me very curious.

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You know I trust you Cocktail Guru..but that's a lot of flavor components in one cocktail, a lot to balance. Now you have me very curious.

Funny thing, Nicolas told me that during the first weekend of service, even he was having trouble remembering what and how much of each ingredient went into each cocktail.

Obviously, some of those ingredients are used in very small quantities. But they are some tasty drinks.

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Last night, a friend and I paid our first visit to the recently opened ECC, another branch of the cocktail lounge that first took Paris by storm in 2007 (following that with an ECC in London).

ECC is in the old Kush space, a lounge that I was never fortunate enough to (or, fortunate enough to never) set foot in. What's interesting is that the Paris ECC was modeled after the new wave of cocktail lounges that were opening in NYC and now NYC's ECC kind of looks like the type of lounge you might find in Paris. If you think this is confusing, it's not - our ECC is absolutely gorgeous inside, designed by the wife of one of the owner's; lots of French flea market finds, and I wish my living room looked like this. My pictures do not do it justice...

Nice review. Beautiful space. It is quite different from their Parisian branch, which is located in an old building with exposed stone walls and a wood ceiling, and looks more modern/rustic (but is very nice too). It looks like the cocktail menu may be different as well. In Paris I remember having a basil drink ("l'experience") that was quite good, but much less complex than the drinks you describe. But the small space was so crowded that we could not establish a relationship with the bartenders, which was disappointing because it is such a big part of the experience.

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But the small space was so crowded that we could not establish a relationship with the bartenders, which was disappointing because it is such a big part of the experience.

In order to continue establishing a relationship with the bartender(s), I had to return last night, since a friend and I were practically around the corner at a gallery opening.

I might've found a new favorite cocktail, as the Noblesse Oblige was the first drink I tried on this second visit. Cognac based, with both Pedro Ximenez and Del Maguey as sidekicks, it's another one of Nicolas' fine, fine cocktails. It'll probably stay on the menu, though he did say that he finds people here shying away from Cognac cocktails, which is a big mistake, in my opinion.

My friend started off with the Black Heart and immediately pronounced it his "new favorite drink." He also tried the L'Américain, the drink served in the bottle and pictured in my first post, and they've got the carbonation level up to where it should be and making the drink that much tastier.

They're not heading off-menu much at this point, though Aaron was kind enough to mix me up a boozy Vieux Carré.

Comp Disclosure: A round.

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But the small space was so crowded that we could not establish a relationship with the bartenders, which was disappointing because it is such a big part of the experience.

ECC Paris is certainly not large, but the crowds were not omnipresent in my experience...early on a Sunday, for example, would generally give us plenty of time to chat with the staff (and, I imagine that this will also be true for the NYC branch). Our bartenders in Paris were from Brooklyn more often than not, so I'm not surprised to see they've expanded in this direction. Have they brought with them their vast supplies and skills with obscure Japanese whiskies? That's perhaps the thing I miss most about cocktails in Paris.

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Have they brought with them their vast supplies and skills with obscure Japanese whiskies? That's perhaps the thing I miss most about cocktails in Paris.

I think there's some of that happening now, with perhaps more to come. There is a bartender whose name escapes me at the moment who is Japanese and, at least the two times I've been in, has been working the second of the two bars.

And last night we did try the Kinkakuji, made with Yamazaki 12yo, Arrack, Plantation OP, pineapple juice, clarified milk, coconut water, Japanese 8 spices and Tamaryokucha green tea...and that's a mouthful and goes down way too easy.

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Are walk-ins welcome or is it reservations only ?

Any information on this cocktail bar would be great.

Thank you.


Edited by Steamtrain (log)

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Yes, you can walk in if they're not full or fully booked. Early is fine for walk-ins.

I think there's a fair amount of information in the posts above...oh, I've now been 4 or 5 times, and have always had a good time.

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Thank you for your help weinoo, my spouse and I enjoyed several cocktails there last night.

The place is wonderful, the glasses are still beautiful, the cocktails were excellent.

We enjoyed the very friendly staff who were Chase, Nicolas, and Coco.

The only new info I have is that ECC is currently opening at 8:00pm.

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Thank you for your help wienoo, my spouse and I enjoyed several cocktails there last night.

The place is wonderful, the glasses are still beautiful, the cocktails were excellent.

We enjoyed the very friendly staff who were Chase, Nicolas, and Coco.

The only new info I have is that ECC is currently opening at 8:00pm.

Glad you like it and yes, the staff is very nice.

Interesting about the 8 PM opening time now...I suspect that will drop back after Labor Day, when drinking starts at a more reasonable 6 or 7 PM :cool: .

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Eater interviews Nicolas de Soto, the bar manager at ECC, in their newish Barkeepers feature.

Anything you wish we had in NYC that we don't have?

A faster way to get to Paris would be nice. But seriously, I wish there were more bars like Booker & Dax and Atera that are taking chances. I see too many new places open and there is no risk. Try a bit harder, you know? Use the kitchen if you are a restaurant. But honestly, it's almost perfect. I chose New York because it's the best city to work in if you're in the cocktail industry.

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