Best art bar on the Lower East Side - 2007
You don't have to be a poet, accursed or otherwise, to enjoy a fine night of drinking and carrying on at Verlaine. And thank the gods (i.e., the Brothers Goncourt, le Comte de Lautremont and other dandies) for that, since funny haircuts, poor hygiene, and epic pretentiousness seem de rigueur at so many other neighborhood establishments. This austere, elegant, high-ceilinged space—named rather whimsically for the perverse, scruffy, low-moralled 19th-century French Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine—offers Asian-tinged cocktails (sake cosmos, lychee martinis, and Vietnamese Bloody Marys: about $5 during happy hour) and surprising hardy, gorgeous edibles from its well-curated "small plate" menu. Much better than average art graces its jaundiced walls, and the fuzzy pillows are made of fake fur, so even your tree-hugging date won't feel unwelcome. Though neither intimate nor especially cozy, Verlaine is perfect for a late-night drink with the sort of friends you can abuse endlessly for their tiresome middle-class values and prosaic aesthetics, even as you convince them—yet again—that it's their round.