Earlier this month, Yves Jadot, the man behind the Raines Law Room, Jones Wood Foundry, and Petite Abeille, among others, opened Dear Irving (55 Irving Place, no phone), a Gramercy cocktail bar that pulls together elements from his previous projects. Raines Law Room’s Meaghan Dorman created the cocktail list, and Jones Wood’s Jason Hicks is supposed to be the chef (more on that later). But the restaurant’s most noteworthy attribute — besides its unmarked address and the server-summoning light-up buttons that adorn the walls of its front parlor room — is the fact that Dear Irving is inspired by Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.
It certainly isn’t the first NYC watering hole to take inspiration from a film. There’s Durden Bar, a Fight Club-themed establishment on 13th Street, and years ago, there was a place that sold boozy milkshakes under the name Korova Milk Bar, taken from A Clockwork Orange. But Dear Irving nails the self-reflective celluloid dream world it channels, even if pre-opening press releases described a full menu of Brit-themed bar snacks from Hicks, and nearly a month into service there’s no food in sight except for a “nibble tray” larded with olives, cheese, and salami (reps from the establishment have told us that they hope to begin serving food by the end of the week.)
For now, you’ll have to find liquid solace in the coupe and rocks glasses Dorman and her team fill with beverages that run the gamut from spicy and sour to sweet and creamy, which are split on the menu between sections labeled “tried and true” and “house creations.” One early winner is the Hero of Little Venice, a flip made with rum, sweet vermouth, root beer, and a whole egg. Those last two ingredients — the whole, raw egg, and, in this case, root beer from Ithaca Brewery — are what give this tipple its identity. Historically, flips were a mixture of rum, sugar, and beer zapped with a glowing hot fire poker, which would froth the beverage and give it its signature smoothness. Modern flips eschew the menacing fireplace tools, and heat altogether, instead emulsifying the egg to produce a similar viscosity, but most flips still include plenty of sugar.
Dorman created the cocktail for a dessert drink competition held by Venezuelan rum producer Santa Teresa, and although her entry didn’t result in a win, she felt the cocktail deserved an audience. We’ll concur. The velvety sipper has an herbal edge, with a luscious palate-coating start and dry, slightly sweet finish. Along the same lines is the Samoa, which doesn’t taste like the Girl Scout cookie but somehow deftly melds genever, bourbon, coconut cream, and cacao nibs. Both drinks do a fine job mimicking the bar’s fluid, dreamlike atmosphere.
Click through for photos of the bar.