Speakeasy-style cocktail bar The Bookcase and Barber is no longer the mystery it was when it first opened three years ago. Locals are not fooled by the bearded barber and floor-to-ceiling library hiding the small private space for degenerate drinkers to live in peace. (Fewer know about the discount code for $5 Manhattans on Manhattan Mondays that is posted on B&B’s social media.) Owner Jenna Black said they do get plenty of confused tourists coming in who still think the bar is an old bookstore like it was 30 years ago. But tourists have no reason to fear. Even if they do happen upon the two-faced bar without knowledge of the secret password that is posted on the website, they’re not going to get thrown out by the collar.
“We gotta have people come in,” Black laughed. “It’s still a business.”
So it’s not necessary to go fisticuffs with the doorman for entry, but knowing what to drink once inside may be more of a challenge. The bar offers classics off the author menu and Bookcase originals off the story menu.
“Our whole motto is getting people out of their comfort zone,” Black said.
We asked her for two suggestions off each menu so you can keep it classy with traditional libations or venture off for something with modern day flair.
Story MenuPetrichor by Daniel Yohey Sticking with the bookish theme, the cocktails are named after authors, story titles, and pretty words like petrichor. The word’s meaning is as beautiful as it sounds – the smell of rain after a long period of warm, dry weather. The drink is just as lovely. Petrichor is made with Rittenhouse rye, Atapiño pine nut liqueur by Santa Fe Spirits, Curaçao, Intense Ginger liqueur, Carpano Bianco vermouth, and Regans orange bitters stirred and double-strained into a coupe glass that’s garnished with a flamed orange peel and sage leaf.
Life of Pi by Mera DebenhamNamed after the adventure story about a boy trapped on a boat with a tiger, Life of Pi – the cocktail – will give you a religious awakening like the one the young protagonist had in the story. The drink is made with Marble Distilling Co. vodka, vanilla simple syrup, lime juice, coconut milk, and egg whites for that velvet Bengal-coat texture. The egg whites and lime are dry shaken, then added to ingredients with ice, shaken again, and then strained into a coupe glass and finished with a lime slice.
Authors Menu Thompson “Old Fashioned”Father of gonzo, Hunter S. Thompson, was known to drink a lot of booze, but Wild Turkey from the bottle was his signature. That’s why Bookcase’s old fashioned base is the Duke’s favorite American bourbon. The Thompson is made with muddled raw sugar, bitters, and lemon peel, with a splash of soda water that is stirred with ice. The muddle mix is then double-strained with Wild Turkey over a large ice cube, and garnished with a lemon peel. Thompson suggests drinking whiskey with having fun, and getting wild, then “driving fast on empty streets with nothing in mind but falling in love and not getting arrested…let the good times roll.”
Steinbeck “Jack Rose”The Steinbeck version of Jack Rose is the same color as the sorrel colt Gabilan in “The Red Pony.” Let’s just pray this drink isn’t as deceitful as the book’s title. It’s about a pony, they said. It’s a coming of age tale, they said. But it’s Steinbeck and it will rip your heart out with graphically violent sad scenes of dying horses. OK, let’s lighten the mood. The drink is made with Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy, fresh lime, house grenadine, and simple syrup, and then served in a coupe glass and garnished with a lime wheel.