restaurateur matt levine has shifted his focus from the lower east side to the more prestigious soho neighbourhood where he has launched a new venue dubbed the handy liquor bar. named after thomas h. handy, a 19th-century expert mixologist and founder of america's largest distillery company, and this essential fact obviously packs a punch on the bar setting. levine enlisted new york-based architect chien dao, known for a handful happening establishments across manhattan, and he has quite masterfully cooked up a plush yet homey aesthetic dipped in auburn and burgundy that blends custom marble table tops, persian rugs, victorian armchairs, plush leather couches and chesterfield tufted banquets. a number of props add to the vibe of tongue-in-cheek plushness, such as classic jazz memorabilia, vintage cocktail leather bound books, and antique frames with vintage rock star photos line the mahogany wood walls.
mind you, it's pretty much a who's who in rock history and they've been shot by legendary rock 'n roll snapper bob gruen for a music magazine's special feature. the handy liquor bar has two other showstopping trumps up its sleeve: a 1950s wurlitzer baby grand piano and a vintage wurlitzer jukebox playing jazz, funk and motown records by some of the greatest music icons. and then there's head barkeeper and mixologist william bastian, a dexterous guy known for experimenting with new distilled spirits and mixers. he adds to the good times by concocting an elaborate time-honoured cocktail list inspired by the great classics. the dry martini, gimlet, manhattan, mint julep and the sazerac are but a few included on the list, all created with a modern twist. location: 527 broome street [soho].