When Frank Locker returned home to Yorkville, the neighborhood where he spent his childhood, his search for a comfortable place to enjoy a drink came up empty, and he notes he “personally couldn’t go find a place to hang out.” So the previous owner of Tribeca’s well known jazz joint Duane Park and Greenwich Village’s The Dove Parlour began planning to open an intimate cocktail lounge at 1825 Second Avenue, an alternative to the bars that dominated the surrounding area.
He envisioned a space recalling the grandeur of the 1920s and ’30’s: no television, no gimmicks, just an atmosphere of old-world charm, a place you might have bumped into Hemingway. Rather than imitate the vibe of the speakeasies downtown, though, Locker wanted to offer a more open and inviting environment similar to what one would have experienced in European hotels during Prohibition. So Vinus and Marc has no hidden passageways or exclusive memberships, just comfortable chairs with light music playing in the background to set the tone. “Come here and make your own world,” says Locker.
Locker brought on Aziza Omar–formerly of The Odeon–to oversee the cocktail program, and his list includes classics like the scofflaw, a rye whiskey and vermouth blend originally created at Harry’s Bar in Paris and named for drinkers disobeying the laws of America’s anti-alcohol days. Original creations like the baby vamp–made with strawberry, tequila, mescal, and Hellfire bitters–are rooted in the current golden age of cocktails. Vinus and Marc also offers a wine list, which Locker curates himself.
The drinks program matches a menu of small plates from chef J. Luis Dominguez (formerly of Locker’s Duane Park Cafe); the list offers oceanic delicacies–like oysters, crawfish, and tuna tartare–as well as things that are easy to eat while you’re holding a cocktail in your hand. Expect the food menu to expand in the coming weeks.
Vinus and Marc is open from 4 p.m to 1 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday and 4 p.m to 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Follow Billy Lyons on Twitter.