Harlem has a swanky new cocktail bar, and its soft opening is tonight.
Serving up a menu of 30 craft cocktails, Sugar Monk at 2292 Frederick Douglass Boulevard is the brainchild of two artists, Simon Jutras and Ektoras Binikos (also a mixologist at the now-defunct 2nd Floor on Clinton). The partners were inspired by the nightclubs of the Harlem Renaissance, but have added a creative, modern twist.
Just a few blocks from the Apollo, the bar feels straight out of E. Simms Campbell's famous map of 1930s Harlem–think plush velvet chairs and jungle-themed wallpaper paired with dark lighting and jazz. Here, though, yesteryear's cigarette haze has been replaced with something much more modern: the smoke of burning herbs such as rosemary.
The drinks, too, are 21st century, made with what Sugar Monk refers to as modern alchemy. Its bartenders combine exotic ingredients–Singani 63, a Bolivian brandy, appears in the Blue Moon–then add exquisite details using state-of-the-art tools; a mini blow torch sets alight garnishes such as cinnamon sticks. Non-alcoholic cocktails, chilled with giant pieces of oblong ice and topped with thin discs carved from apples, get just as much attention.
It's a dream of Harlem both old and new, brought to life.
Photos: Sugar Monk