Retro cocktails from a landmark spot on St. Marks Place in the East Village, NYC. One comes complete with cocktail umbrella and plastic toy you can keep as souvenirs. It’s sophisticated kitsch.
It’s so commendable, and quite rare, to see a NYC neighborhood stand-by come back to life without losing its original charm and downtown spirit. For nearly 100 years, this St. Marks Place bar has attracted notables with personality (including Madonna, Sinatra, Keith Richards, The Ramones, Iggy Pop, Allen Ginsburg, Leon Trotsky) that have infused their mark and energy into the space.
Holiday Cocktail Lounge, has received a loving, modern-with-kitsch makeover with the vision of Barbara Sibley, the East Village’s ‘resident anthropologist’. Under her guidance, extruded paneled walnut walls and a mint-green banquette give the space a vintage feel, transporting you right back to the ’50s. The renovation unearthed remnants of past incarnations, including a mural of a harem scene from the bar’s time as Ali Baba; a phone booth (one of only a handful left in NYC) with its original phone number; and, remarkably, a Prohibition-era tunnel that allows escape across St. Marks Place.
Her menu is hyper-local, featuring the best within a five-minute stroll from Holiday—including saffron, turmeric and shiso leaves to home-cured kielbasa and freshly baked challah. Sibley is chef and owner of neighboring restaurant, La Palapa, another staple of the neighborhood.
Cocktails are cultivated by brothers Michael and Danny Neff, so you know they are stellar. “We are committed to honoring its gritty, celebrity-studded past, while maintaining the creative ‘anything can happen’ ethos of the East Village. By marrying the bonhomie and warmth of a timeless neighborhood bar with a world-class drinks program, we’re planning to incubate some fantastic experiences,” says Michael Neff. ‘Nuff said.
On our visit, we got our cocktails from the funky and lovely Remee Klos, who gives us her terse report on working at Holiday.
HOBNOB: What’s the vibe like at Holiday?
RK: Fun. Always.
Do you get any visits from former luminaries?
What happens at Holiday, stays at Holiday.
What’s the best night to go?
That depends on how much tomfoolery you are in the mood for. You get more quality time with the fantastic bartenders Sundays and Mondays. But here, everyday is a Holiday.
Where have we seen you before Holiday?
The Library, Saxon & Parole, Hop Sing Laundromat.
Open every day from 3pm to 4am, as a landmark should be. holidaycocktaillounge.nyc
I included these two cocktails as part of a plan for hosting a Day of the Dead party because right next door at La Palapa, Barbara Sibley hosts a fabulous tribute to the holiday, with her authentic, traditional Mexican fare.
See more recipes and ideas for a Halloween or DD celebration in 19 Spooky Harvest