While food royalty flocked to Lincoln Center for the James Beard Awards last night, the city’s drinkerati could be found downtown crowding outside the door of a narrow bar, waiting for a glimpse and a sip of what was inside. Richard Boccato and Giuseppe Gonzalez opened the doors to their new Lower East Side tiki bar Painkiller (49 Essex Street) last night, welcoming a couple hundred of their closest friends and family.
The crowd buzzed with the excitement and the powerful punch packed by far-too-drinkable Zombies. Mai Tais and the drink for which the bar is named — the Painkiller — were also circulated. All the heavyweights of mixology were in attendance: Eben Freeman, Alex Day, Aisha Sharpe, Mickey McIlroy. The bar, done up in bamboo and 70s-style graffiti, isn’t coy about its theme: namely, island fun (and that island is a tropical version of Manhattan, circa 1978). As Gonzalez recently revealed, the menus are printed on paper to encourage people to take them home as souvenirs because, “people will steal shit anyway.”
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