Ass Juice and Sonic Youth, but No Vegas


What’s in your Ass Juice?” is a hard question to ask with a straight face, but we wanted to know what we were in for at the East Village’s Double Down Saloon when ordering this dubiously named shot. Worst of all the bartender casually responded, “Too much stuff to remember,” leaving us with the mere reassurance that we hadn’t seen her wring out any bar rags over our glasses while making them. But one doesn’t push for details in situations like this, especially because we kind of liked the fruity-tasting $3 Ass Juice. The actual bar we’re still not sure about. A beloved Las Vegas sleaze spot since 1993, the Double Down opened a second location on Avenue A in February with the same murals, reminiscent of ’60s Playboy comics, that cover the original’s walls and the same “You puke, you clean” motto. The New York location carefully replicates the endearing qualities of the original, from the rockabilly clientele to the drinks, like the bacon martini ($6), which you wouldn’t dream of ordering until after you’ve had a few. But what can’t be copied is the refuge the Nevada location offers locals and tourists from the stomach-turning garishness of the nearby Vegas Strip. Trying to re-create this on Avenue A merely gets you an obnoxiously painful East Village bar doing its best impression of an East Village bar. While the Double Down has its strengths, like a long happy hour (noon to 7 p.m.) seven days a week and a jukebox with standouts like Sonic Youth’s Confusion Is Sex/Kill Yr. Idols, we can only hope it will one day fill the shoes of its Sin City predecessor.