After a night of boozing, there are stranger things to wake up to than a leather bag with half a mutton burger tucked inside, but that’s just one of the many possibilities Seamstress (339 East 75th Street; 212-288-8033) brings to the table. One-half lounge, one-half bar, topped with a dash of vintage general store, the new Upper East Side watering hole marks another neighborhood retreat from The Gilroy’s Steve Laycock and Josh Mazza, who together are helping rebrand the Upper East Side’s nightlife options. Behind the bar, Pam Wiznitzer oversees a list of nearly 50 classic cocktails — plus, one from cocktail historian David Wondrich, thrown in for good measure — while Will Horowitz of Ducks Eatery is taking care of the kitchen.
Peeling back the red velvet curtain, guests should take notice of the tables and back bar as potential first-date hangouts. There’s also an elm table located near a very modern fireplace, ideal for group dining; it’s one of the few tech-savvy amenities for a place built on the past. The Upper East Side’s history as a hotbed for seamstresses lends itself to the image of scissors and other paraphernalia stamped throughout the room. From tabletop lamps to the denim aprons worn by Wiznitzer’s crew, the reminder that those from our past are always with us is hard to overlook — a good thing, considering narrowing down the drink list requires guidance. There are nineteen pages of classic cocktails, not to mention Wiznitzer’s creations like the Wiz Fizz, an adult version of a root beer float.
Enhancing the theme of American heritage, mutton appears in burger form along with griddle cakes served in a cast-iron pan. (Most of the serving ware looks like something you’d pack for the Oregon Trail.) A vegetable starter uses a unique spirit to pickle each individual component, and some items, such as the baked Alaska, are lit on fire right in front of you — in case you crave an extra dose of rusticity. “The Upper East Side has always had a great selection of dive bars and white-tablecloth restaurants, but has lacked a quality middle ground,” Laycock says of the inspiration for opening a place that would honor the neighborhood’s working class.
With a desire to offer residents and visitors a perfect place to start, end, or spend an entire night, Seamstress also has a unique take on a parting gift, which doesn’t involve sticking your hand in a mint bowl. Building off the theme of classic American-made dishes, the restaurant is also offering guests the chance to purchase straight razors, aprons, and goods from American companies like Detroit-based Shinola. “As someone who lives on the Upper East Side, I am excited to be part of revitalizing its nightlife and social scene,” Laycock says.
Click through the photos on the next page for a look at what Seamstress is lacing up for night owls.