Up and Up
New York City-Lower West Manhattan
- Great food
May 11, 2018
Helmed by owner Matthew Piacentini and lead bartender Chaim Dauermann, this basement bar opened in 2015, when the team, understanding that the neighbourhood was packed with New York University students who may prefer a $3 light beer on tap and a $1 slice of pizza to a crafted cocktail, realised that they may have to scrap their original concept altogether. Instead, the neighbourhood embraced the drinking establishment, encouraging the proprietors to scrap the vodka sodas on tap and branch out to even more unique cocktails.
The Up & Up is inspired by what was once modern and eccentric, like the colourfully patterned wallpaper on the walls, which would have been considered avant-garde in the late 1890s, but now gives off a cool yet classic vibes. Piacentini says that the best compliment he overheard was one patron saying to another, “I feel like I’m in Paris but also my dad’s basement.”
Known primarily as a cocktail bar, it’s not unusual for nearly all over the 500 or more drinks that The Up & Up sells on a busy night to be cocktails, with maybe one beer or glass of wine mixed in. The cocktail list plays on the familiar while infusing the unusual, as seen in now-classics, like The Safe Cracker (a mescal and Campari cocktail, which has its own in-house variations). “You shouldn’t be expected to be an expert in spirits to come into a bar like this and get a good drink,” Piacentini says of his menu philosophy – he may pair cucumber with an unfamiliar spirit to lure imbibers into ordering something familiar and end up surprised by learning a new flavour. Mostly, he just wants visitors, who pack the seats, often waiting for a small table inside the dim-lit bar on many nights, to relax, enjoy the drinks and not feel like they have to prove anything in what may be the least pretentious cocktail bar in Manhattan.