What’s this city coming to when even dive bars have to start serving signature cocktails?
“Well, we don’t have to,” says Mike Stuto, owner of Hi-Fi. “It’s just about giving people what they want.”
Hi-Fi has been an East Village mainstay since it opened in 2002, at the height of New York’s love affair with indie rock. It made a name for itself largely for the 23,000-song jukebox it houses. As Stuto has seen his bar and neighborhood change over the years, he felt he had to change with the times.
“We didn’t do appletinis back when they were everywhere because it was a stupid trend. This wave of the cocktail trend is kinda cool. We aren’t going to get into muddling fresh cherries, but I wanted to offer a few classic cocktails.”
A French 75, Pimms Cup, and Ward Eight can be found on the summer cocktail list, which is likely to change in the fall. Stuto first served the Pimms Cup at Glamour magazine’s holiday party last year. When the economy tanked, he said, everyone wanted to have their parties at dive bars.
“I didn’t think this was going to be a dive bar when I opened it. But now, anything that isn’t a lounge or a wine bar is a dive. I just consider it an unpretentious bar.”
Stuto has also expanded the beer list to include several craft brews, like Arrogant Bastard Ale. But, for the regulars, the main draw is still the jukebox, which will get a software upgrade in the coming weeks.
“I’m not here to teach people what’s cool,” says Stuto.
Luckily, every once in awhile, what’s cool and what’s trendy can actually be one and the same.