There’s a dearth of high-end cocktail lounge with late night hours on the Upper East Side, though smart entrepreneurs have been trying to plug that hole over the last few years so that neighborhood residents no longer have to jump in a cab for a nightcap. The niche is far from filled, but The Gilroy (1561 Second Avenue; 212-734-8800), the newest entrant in the bar scene up north, will make a little more headway.
Steve Laycock, one of the co-owners in the new endeavor, is familiar with the downtown cocktail scene; his intimate East Village joint Ducks Eatery is a good after-work spot to sip a mint julep or chew on beignets while watching a silent movie play on the back wall. Laycock met his Gilroy co-owner Josh Mazza — who actually lives on the UES — while paragliding, and after working together in various capacities, the duo decided to fly uptown when a space on Second Avenue became available.
Focusing first on the bar offerings, the partners decided to feature gin and tonics and a slew of negronis — which range from traditional to barrel-aged to mezcal-based — instead of trying to invent a menu of entirely original cocktails. “Creating something new that works is really more difficult,” says Laycock. He also banked on uptown appreciating elegance, while downtown applauds the inventive and Brooklyn likes the quirky. Still, curious UES residents looking for something a bit out of the ordinary can still find drinks like the heart of gold, a bourbon based tipple garnished with smoked bacon salt, or the original cumulus cocktail, which blends tequila, white grapefruit, maple, egg white, and mezcal bitters.
While drinks were the highest priority for the partners, food wasn’t an afterthought, and The Gilroy is working with Spigolo alum Joseph D’Angelo. He’s putting out a menu rooted in American staples, like chicken pot pie and mac and cheese, but rendered with Italian flourishes, which are particularly evident in dishes like the steak sandwich ciabatta.
The space itself is a cozy lair, with a copper-topped bar, art deco-style chandeliers, and a reclaimed wood community table in the center of the space. The Gilroy is open from 5 p.m. until 4 a.m. daily.