Prandially Yours: The Raines Law Room
-A Monthly Column By Joshua Wanger, Featuring NYC Restaurant Reviews-
New York City’s indefatigable nightlife has no shortage of watering holes at which to sate your thirst after a long work day or to begin a fun weekend. With happy hour deals and cheap liquor aplenty, many typical bars will certainly do the job, so to speak. But for something classier, adventuresome, and slightly less likely to lead to an unfortunate hangover, check out The Raines Law Room. This speakeasy-style bar masterfully crafts Prohibition-era cocktails (and variations thereof) in a space that will make you feel as if you have gone back in time.
To find the bar, look for a nondescript, black awning between 5th and 6th Avenues on West 17th Street. Descend half a flight of stairs and ring the doorbell. A sharply dressed host will answer the door, ask for the number in your party, take your coat, and seat you in one of a number of six-seat booths or comfortable armchairs inside or, in the warmer months, in the garden. The bar has limited seating; it is always full but never crowded. Be sure to pay special attention to the décor: the tin ceiling, the sheer curtains, the ribald wallpaper (which is particularly titillating in the restrooms).
After perusing the extensive menu, pull the chain nearby to your seat to signal your server. While you can easily find any number of delicious cocktails on the printed menu, the incredible bartenders can make you nearly any classic cocktail you could want. At $15 a pop, the drinks are steeply priced; however, the perfectly prepared cocktails and the intimate environment easily make this worthwhile.
If you have any questions or you simply can’t make up your mind, your boundlessly knowledgeable server will guide you. If you want to get off-menu, try a Jack Rose, a simple classic cocktail popular in the ‘20s and ‘30s made of applejack, grenadine, and lemon juice and served straight up in a coupe glass.
You can make reservations Sunday through Tuesday; otherwise, the easiest time to get a seat is when they open. Bring a date you are wooing or friends aiming for a tamer night out. You will not be disappointed.
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