Larry Lawrence 295 Grand Street
When we heard that the Larry Lawrence wanted to keep the press out, well, we had to investigate. Indeed, L.L. is not easy to find: A single nondescript door that reads "bar" overhead opens onto a long corridor lit like a mine shaft, with naked light bulbs dangling from the ceiling. But this is no hole in the wall. Inside it's a sophisticated, yet unpretentious, space with exposed brick, soft candlelight, homemade wooden booths, and Chet Baker crooning in the background. Upstairs, an outside deck with a wall-to-wall window overlooking the bar allows you to smoke alfresco without feeling exiled from the crowd indoors. Opened in October, this understated drinking destination seems to be a world away from the trendiness of nearby Bedford Avenue, though it caters to the same after-hours crowd of young artists and musicians. The smartly dressed bartender recommended whiskey for the cold weather (Maker's Mark, $6). But upon request for something sweet, she mixed a delectably frothy French martini ($7) with Chambord, pineapple juice, and Absolut Kurant (the currant flavor added a candy-coated zip). A standard selection of beer (Stella Artois, $5) and wine (try the fruity Chilean Matiz 2001 cabernet, $6) is also offered at affordable prices. Now, make like you never read this and head on over.