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UES Winter Cocktail Program, This is The East Pole

UES Winter Cocktail Program, This is The East Pole

New York City is a sprawling place with many different scenes throughout the island we call, Manhattan. One place I’ve never taken to is the Upper East Side. Thankfully, I’ve gotten myself out of working predominantly in Midtown and Downtown on the West side. Instead, I graduated to a more eclectic crowd where I can strut my skills in a calmer, yet richer environment of people.

Let’s start with a little bit on,

The East Pole

The East Pole Kitchen & Bar, located in a landmark Upper East Brownstone is both a neighborhood favorite and a destination for special occasions. At the forefront of New York’s farm-to-table dining scene our food is simple and seasonal; we think of it as elegant home cooking. Whether you join us in our main dining room for dinner, pop by the the bustling bar for a quick bite or book one of our two private dining rooms rooms a special dinner or cocktail party, it would be our pleasure to have you.

– The East Pole MGMT

Tucked away on the Northwest corner of 65th and Lexington, you’ll find what looks like an entrance way to a rather, unassuming brownstone as mentioned above. What will help you denote a difference is the very tall, circular sign with “East Pole” written front and center. If there was ever a latitude/longitude destination that was known as the east pole, this would be the sign.

The East Pole features a very elegant farm-to-table American fare with British accents and interesting twists on prohibition style cocktails to match.

Since this article is about the bar, we’re going to dive into their cocktails before we get into life in the Upper East Side.

Without further ado,

As my time of writing this, it’s the end of February, we’re getting to the tail end of Winter and slowly moving our way into Spring.

This Winter has been a pretty mild one. It’s been freezing some days, don’t get me wrong but we haven’t experience NEARLY as many snow days or storms as I’ve seen in my last two Winters experienced in the city.

Coming into The East Pole’s cocktail list as a newcomer, I was totally impressed with the selection for guests to enjoy. There’s something for everyone and each of these cocktails is a very cute twist on some of the regular cocktails we’re all used to seeing.

The Cocktails.

I’ll kick things off with my favorite on this list.

A little hint, it’s Mezcal.

Little spin move right here!
I’ve perfected cracking my tins apart with my elbow, a very slick move that definitely takes some practice to get good at.

*Quick Tip*

When serving cocktails with crushed ice, it’s always a better move to pour the liquid into the glass BEFORE the ice. Crushed ice obviously takes up a lot of real-estate within your glassware so you don’t want to waste your customers’ cocktail in expense of ice. You also have the ability to add more of the liquid if you need more. My rule of thumb is to fill the glass with liquid to just over the half-way mark up the glass, then fill with ice and top off if necesssary.

That’s how you PROPERLY build a crushed ice cocktail!
That’s what I call a serve.

Sgt. Pepper

The East Pole’s smokey yet refreshing cocktail with a hint of spice that hits you when you take your sip.

Servings 1 Person

Ingredients

  • 2 Oz Strawberry-Infused Mezcal
  • 1 Oz Lime Juice
  • 1 Oz Cranberry Juice

Instructions

  1. In mixing tin, add all ingredients over ice.

  2. Shake rigorously.

  3. Strain into rocks glass.

  4. Fill with crushed ice and garnish with fresh cracked pepper and lime wheel.


This second cocktail is a definitely a close tie for first place on this list, especially if you’re into tequila!

Mexican Standoff

The East Pole’s twist on a spicy margarita with an added kick of ginger to make it go down easier on your palette while still giving you that heat you expect.

Servings 1 Person

Ingredients

  • 1 Oz Jalapeño-Infused Tequila
  • 1 Oz Blanco Tequila
  • 0.75 Oz Lemon Juice
  • 0.75 Oz Canton’s Ginger Liqueur
  • 0.5 Oz Simple Syrup

Instructions

  1. In mixing tin, add all ingredients over ice.

  2. Shake rigorously.

  3. Strain into rocks glass.

  4. Garnish with lemon wheel.


Last cocktail I’m showcasing was a total surprise to see on their Winter list. I don’t see too many twists on the Brazilian Caipirinha but this one was awesome! Definitely a must try for something more refreshing to make you feel like it isn’t 20 degrees outside.

Pour JUST above half-way before crushed ice.

Kashmir

The East Pole’s refreshing and unique twist on the Brazilian Caipirinha with added Kaffir and Ginger beer.

Servings 1 Person

Ingredients

  • 2 Oz Kaffir Leaf-Infused Cachaca
  • 1 Oz Lime Juice
  • 0.75 Oz Simple Syrup
  • Fill Top Ginger Beer

Instructions

  1. In mixing tin, add all ingredients over ice.

  2. Shake rigorously.

  3. Strain into beer glass.

  4. Fill with crushed ice and layer top with ginger beer and angostura bitters.

  5. Garnish with rosemary stem.

I’d say this showing of The East Pole’s cocktails should be MORE than enough to swing by, see me, and have a bite of the UGH-mazing food the owners and chefs have prepared for you to indulge on.

Also, I forgot to say there are food AND drink specials. Every. Single. Night.

I’ll leave the food off of this article so you have a nice surprise when you come in. And when you do, ask for Yancy at the bar.


The People.

I’m a firm believer that, as a bartender, you should work at a bar where the crowd that comes in should tend to be “of your liking.” As an extreme example, I would never work at an old-school Irish pub somewhere deep in Brooklyn. Putting the money differences aside, the type of people I’d see and involve myself with on a daily basis just wouldn’t be MY kind of people at an Irish pub.

Here at The East Pole and other bars below 80th Street on the East side, the clientele tends to be in the upper echelon. I’m totally mentioning this with a grain of salt. I haven’t come across any snooty or snippy people, just people who don’t really have an issue with their bank accounts and know how to eat and drink.

I like that.

These are folks who, from my very short experience thus far, are regulars or locals and they like being known.

See Also

To give you some variety, there have been more than a few first dates/hinge dates that have come in. Newlyweds from Long Island and Connecticut have come in. Old friends and retired bank owners have come in to sit for upwards of two hours and gulp down four martinis…EACH! The owner of the very, VERY lavish men’s suit store across the street has come in and I’ve made him his best Dark n’ Stormy cocktail he’s ever had. A wonderful art professor at Hunter College came in and enjoyed a very spicy glass of wine with me.

What can I say, I definitely dig this crowd.

The best part of these amazing people that I’m getting more and more attuned to, is the fact that they are looking for a fun and elegant experience where the bartender will speak to them and engage.

I live for meeting people, making connections and giving people a reason to come back. It only helps that I’m serving people looking for that experience instead of those looking for their 7th vodka soda and six rounds of tequila shots before they pass out in the booth towards the back.

The Area.

I’m going to be honest here. I’ve heard this, just from a few customers that live around here. There isn’t much else in the immediate vicinity of The East Pole. Sure that’s great news for me but I’m sure you’re wondering what it’s like in the UES.

Well. I can definitely inform you that the Upper East Side is having its own renaissance…of sorts.

Below 72nd and above 59th, the bar/restaurant scene takes places more between 1st and 3rd Avenue. Most notably I’d suggest swinging by;

  1. Sugar East – 62nd and 1st
  2. Maya – 65th and 1st

Right by my current place of work, a bit closer to Central Park, the pickings are just as small. I’d recommend;

  1. Jojo’s (Jean-George Restaurant) – 64th and Lex
  2. Daniel’s – 65th and Park

This one-of-a-kind neighborhood in Manhattan is, what I believe to be, one of the last few real parts of New York that hasn’t been taken over by non-sense. This renaissance I spoke of just above is taking place between 72nd and 89th.

I haven’t NEARLY had a chance to shoot any of the spots I’ve visited in this “hip” part of UES but I definitely have a feel for what and where to go. There’s more than a few but here are my picks;

  1. The Penrose – 83rd and 2nd
  2. The Pony Bar – 75th and 1st
  3. Bemelmen’s Bar – 76th and Madison
  4. The Auction House – 89th and 2nd
  5. Caledonia Bar – 84th and 2nd

Believe it or not, I think the reason for the boom in more fun and younger places to eat and drink is due to a steady decline in rent pricing. I’ve had a few dates that lived around 80th mention this. Multiple others I’ve met out while doing my rounds have ALSO mentioned the lowering of rent.

Don’t let this detest you or your friends from coming. If anything, this should be MORE of a reason to make the journey up here.

Hunter College makes its stay here on 68th and Lex. As odd as it sounds, that could be a major turn-off for many working and out-of-school people but I only see them hovering around the campus like weirdos. Never do I see any at the bars I’ve frequented since being here.

Sure, Downtown and Brooklyn are livelier but I’d say this is more the place for you to relax, not feel too crowded, and enjoy yourself. Not to mention, the people here are just nicer.

Funny story.

I was out one night by myself, like I usually am, and met these two dudes getting wrecked on some whiskey. I asked them where they’re from and neither of them were from up here. One was from FiDi and the other was from Noho. Of course, my next question was why they were up here. Guy from Noho says, “the chicks down where I live are either models or desperately trying to be so they have this terrible entitlement issue. Up here, the gals are fun and worried less about any sort of shame.”

If that doesn’t sum it up for you, maybe you should just swing by The East Pole and try some of their food and drink!

Until next time guys,

“10/10 would recommend, Yancy……OUT!”

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