When you walk into the Union Square Hospitality Group’s first standalone bar, Porchlight, the first thing you will feel is welcome. You have to think in the future tense right now, because Porchlight won’t open until Monday, March 2. After that, you’ll probably want to allow a few days for things to calm down. There will be the Danny Meyer fan base and the followers of fabulous bartenders from such places as Booker and Dax (That’d be the lean firebrand, Nicholas Bennett), bloggers eager to try to put their verbal mark on the place and foodies who have to be among the first through any door.
Give it a beat. Let anticipation build. It’s okay. Porchlight is worth the wait.
Is it also worth the trek to 11th Avenue and 28th Street, against a river-chilled winter wind? You betcha! Although, you’ll probably find it more seductive once mild temperatures come and you’re taking a break from a river stroll or looking for something to do after exploring the Highline or the Whitney Museum in the Meatpacking District.
Even in the single-digit cold, Porchlight is a warm – not just in terms of temperatures – place to meet friends before a concert or game at Madison Square Garden, or when you’re heading to or from an event at Chelsea Piers.
What will you be drinking? Maybe something spicy, maybe something smooth, maybe something blue.
Behind the Mule takes the ginger of the traditional mule and brings it up a few levels. With George Dickel White Dog, a spark from house-made ginger, tang from lime and raspberry vinegar and a sweet New York snap of Katz’s Rock & Rye, Behind the Mule leaves a dangerously thirst-inducing aftertaste.
With Mescal Vida at its base, Gun Metal Blue is anything but a shallow flash in the glass. Peach brandy, lime and cinnamon round it out – but the contrast between the blue curacao and the flamed orange garnish (floating bright side up, like a sunny island in an fathomless, still blue sea) will wake your senses before you lift your glass for a sniff and a sip.
With all of the new goods (New York Distilling, Laird’s Jersey Lightning), Black Dirt apple brandy . . .), Porchlight knows how to bow to tradition. The house Sazerac features, not all-American rye, but Louis Royer cognac. Herbsaint and the NOLA’s mandatory Peychaud’s bitters will make this familiar to a contemporary admirer of all things Sazerac, but cognac? That’s where Sazeracs began, so sit back and sip a little history.
There’s thought behind every detail, from the Rittenhouse in the New York Sour to the house-made cola in the Whiskey & Cola. The Stay All Night has Tito’s, Amaro CioCiaro – a bartender’s beloved – peach preserves, lemon and black tea. If your favorite cocktail isn’t on the menu, then one of the bartenders – Bennett, the wide-grinning Mimi Burnham or one of their colleagues – will make the drink of your choosing, just the way you desire it. Maybe better.
Beers, wines, homemade sodas, “free-spirited” (alcohol-free) concoctions and an amply stocked bar are there for the admiring, conversing and drinking.
If you have questions about anything from menu items to a book on the door-side shelves, then ask. Every staff member has gone through hours and days and weeks of training, so Porchlight is starting with that bonded-team feeling. The crew knows the bar, the menu, the hospitality and every strength that each member has to offer. You’d expect this from a family-owned local bar that has been open for generations, but you’ll find it at Porchlight from day one.
Jean-Paul Bourgeois, Blue Smoke’s creative and texture-happy executive chef, has hold of the kitchen reins at Porchlight. Bites and bar snacks are built to quench your appetite and stimulate your thirst. Must-try items include warm bourbon bar nuts, sugar and spice popcorn, the thick-as-your-fingers smoky beef jerky, oyster shooters with pickled pepper and okra, avocado and crab toast, boiled peanut hummus and jalapeño cheddar cornbread.
The décor is clean, simple and comfortable. The designers took full advantage of the big corner space: large windows, high ceilings, stripped white walls, comfortable seating, nooks and banquettes and communal areas. You could spend a lot of time here and be very happy you did.
For a self-proclaimed bar with a Southern accent, Porchlight looks set to speak a style of Southern comfort that is uniquely its own.
Porchlight; 271 11th Ave.; 212-981-6188
Photos (Interior, Gun Metal Blue and Sazerac) by Andrew Kist
Consider this your Philly brewery bucket list. We've listed the best breweries around the Philadelphia area....read more ›
This installment of Behind the Bar is focused on Trevor Schneider, the US brand ambassador for the Icelandic Reyka Vodka....read more ›
Can drinking wine actually be beneficial to your health? A professor of neuroscience at Yale may have found an answer....read more ›
A company called Forty Ounce Wines is now selling this warm-weather wine in forties, giving drinkers a whole new way to drink 'rose all day.'...read more ›
Ever feel inspired by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's world travels? Wish you could trace his steps and go o...read more ›
Oak barrels are an essential part of what makes bourbon bourbon. For one, there's a legal requirement that bourbon be aged in newly charred oak contai...read more ›
New York based brewery Southern Tier has announced their latest spring release - 'Thick Mint,' an imperial stout brewed with chocolate and mint. ...read more ›
Have you ever dreamt of trying a cocktail only seen before in a cartoon, like the 'Flaming Homer' from The Sim...read more ›
In this installment of Behind the Bar, we were lucky enough to interview Madame St. Germain herself, Camille V...read more ›
If you're the kind of alcoholic who needs to have booze on your person at all times, Groupon has just the product for you: prosecco-flavored nail poli...read more ›
A recent IndieGoGo campaign has resulted in a coffee table with everything you could want: the Sobro Refrigera...read more ›
Soon, you'll be able to enjoy cold brew coffee with the alcohol percentage of a strong beer with Bad Larry's Cold Hard Coffee. ...read more ›