East Side Social Club, a newly opened faux-old-school Italian restaurant and lounge, looks like it was snatched straight from a Mad Men set–all red walls, low light, kitschy red-and-white-checked tablecloths, oil paintings of Italy, and a massive crystal chandelier. It’s a meticulously created world. There’s even a framed photo of JFK, in case you didn’t realize what period you’re meant to be in. Too bad the cocktails aren’t offered at vintage prices–they’re $14, which is at least $4 too much, but if you’re in the area, it’s worth a stop just to ogle the interior.
The Blood and Sand, a cocktail invented early in the last century, was named after a book about a bullfighter that was later made into a Rudolf Valentino movie. It calls for Scotch, cherry brandy, sweet vermouth, and orange juice. East Side Social Club’s version uses all the right ingredients, but ends up too sweet.
The Nerina is a mix of the herbal, bittersweet liquor Meletti Amaro, gin, and Punt e Mes, a variety of Italian vermouth. It has a dusky reddish brown color, and a sweet-herbal-bitter flavor that’s hard to put your finger on, but which functions extremely well as an aperitif.
230 East 51st Street