[all photos by Conor Rose]
If you’re anywhere near East 85th and 2nd Ave, there is absolutely no way you can miss Ethyl’s Alcohol and Food. The glittering sign hanging outside is hard to ignore, and of course the outdoor seating option is enough to draw you in, but the essence of Ethyl’s is both flashy retro and comforting, and we haven’t even gotten to the menu yet. You’d never guess this place just opened in late 2016, or even that it’s on the UES – everything from the gallery wall filled with photos of mostly 70’s icons to the regulars perched at the corner of the bar would lead you to believe its actually located in the LES, and that it’s been a local haunt for some time.
As you would expect from an establishment with “alcohol” blatantly placed in its name, cocktails play a starring role at here. All drinks are strong, with flavor profiles (and names) consistent with the gritty-classy vibe, part of a carefully curated list that is still able to please a crowd.
On the lighter, summery side, there’s the seasonal Watermelon Felon (tequila, muddled watermelon and jalapeno, lime, and a chili salt rim dressed with a watermelon slice) and also the Marilyn’s Chamber (vodka, raspberry syrup, lemon juice, agave, and sage), both of which you’d want to cool off with on a sweltering hot, day-drinking-worthy day. For more of a tipsy kick, try the Bump & Grind (rye, ginger syrup, sweet vermouth, lemon juice, and burlesque bitters). There’s even a cocktail on tap, The Gent (Jameson Black Barrel, Campari, Cocchi Americano) – strong but not too sweet.
Cheap bar food is fairly easy to come across in this city, but quality cheap bar food is a whole other ballgame, which you can happily find here. The Fi’Dolla Burger is the menu’s standout, a mere $5 for a cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato, which is practically bait for a drunk guy/girl/literally any carnivore. Toppings can be added for a couple extra bucks, and if you want to add them all and make it a double, ask for the Stacked Ethyl. Just a double with only bacon arrived to our table piled high with meat and a force to be reckoned with – when future imminent burger cravings hit, this will be what comes to mind.
Other dishes on the menu are not to be overlooked, though – priced mostly at $9.99 and in hefty portions, the rest of the list seems to be your typical bar food staples, but they’ve all got their own Ethyl’s twist.
Bar nachos at any regular bar are typically a sad story of soggy tortilla chips with cheese and meat plopped on top, but here, the seemingly bottomless basket comes with crispy chips well layered with red and green jalapenos, sour cream, lettuce, guacamole, cheese, and pico de gallo. They can even be made “dirty” with a special homemade gravy, at no extra charge. Calamari is light, crispy, and abundant, with a chimichurri dipping sauce, an unexpectedly tasty pairing for the appetizer. Very fun fact: it’s also surprisingly gluten-free, and if you have any allergies or preferences, the kitchen is more than happy to help accommodate whatever you’d like.
We completely missed out on the live music and entertainment (we hear there are go-go dancers!) by being there for an early dinner in the middle of the week, but the food alone was enough of a draw for us to keep us wanting more. See you again soon, Ethyl!
For more photos, click here. This meal was provided by Ethyl’s Alcohol and Food (a place that we love!) and all opinions are our own.