We visited The East Harlem Bottling Company — owned by the husband-and-wife team, Darcie Siciliano and Leo Lauer — when they were celebrating their seven-year anniversary in August 2023. The neighborhood bar is on the corner of Lexington Avenue and East 107th Street — and although the majority of customers are local, they are a popular drop-in for visitors to nearby attractions like the Conservatory Garden in Central Park, Museum of the City of New York and El Museo Del Barrio. We were attracted by the choice of outdoor dining, cozy tables and a sunny bar. We chose the bar! There’s a wide menu selection, with everything from fluffy Blueberry Ricotta Pancakes and Dos Waffles to the classic Bottling Co Burger and Buffalo-style Wings. They serve Schaller & Weber's pretzels and a selection of Mac & Cheese for those looking for comfort food. They’ve also found time to open a second venture, Perch — a cocktail and small bites bar, just a few doors down Lexington Avenue. The pandemic put the couple and their business to the test. In the midst of trying to open Perch in Spring of 2020, they were forced to adapt. "So everything got closed down, " Leo recalls. They innovatively sold growlers and worked tirelessly with organizations like Chef José Andrés’s World Central Kitchen, providing meals to those in need. "We spent a lot of time in the community, going to people that were having a tougher time than us, " Leo said. The Bottling Company is situated between major New York hospitals — Mount Sinai, Montefiore and Metropolitan. This connection with staff from those medical centers fostered a sense of camaraderie and support during the pandemic, as they provided meals and a place for healthcare workers to unwind. "It's been a roller coaster, but there was a lot of help from the community, " Leo said, expressing gratitude for the support from East Harlem. The couple not only adapted but thrived — from delivering meals to hospitals to turning their dishwashers into delivery guys and buying bikes for their staff, they navigated the storm. "We bought bikes for the dishwasher guys who had no work. We did family meals for all the staff. It was crazy, " Leo shared, reminiscing about the unexpected turns they faced. As Darcie Siciliano and Leo Lauer celebrate seven years in business, the East Harlem Bottling Co has become more than just a bar to the community… and their colorful draft beer chalkboard is cool too!
Having lived in England for a year and a half, and always delighted for an excuse to return, I was perfectly thrilled to walk into Wilfie & Nell. At times it is filled with Brits and you will feel like you have been transported back across the Atlantic as you dine on Shepherds Pie, or a Ploughman's Cheese Plate, or just browse through their extended list of beers and enjoy the pub atmosphere with a Manhattan twist.
Oktoberfest is celebrated every day on 37th Street with German beers and a menu that replicates all the favorites found in this country. Dressed in blue and white-checkered shirts with lederhosen socks, the staff is vibrant and jovial, and the seating is partially communal with wood tables and stools scattered throughout the massive hall. The menu impressed us; beginning with the soft, warm pretzels that come in two sizes - with the bigger one filling a large pizza tray. There are several kinds of charcuterie, and with a bit of a twist, there is even a vegan tofu "wurst. " Schnitzel can be prepared with chicken, turkey, veal or pork. Hearty sides including, of course, German potato salad, pair well with the Schnitzel but a favorite for us was the Spatzle simply prepared with butter, salt and pepper. And then there is the beer - fourteen taps, all German, served in half-liter or one-liter mugs, or two-liter boots. The German background music is upbeat as is the crowd that hangs out here. We witnessed a table participating in the "shot ski. " Two waitresses came out ringing bells and presented a long piece of wood resembling a ski that had shot glasses attached. Four guys stood up to the cheers of their friends, and together on the count of three, downed the mixture of vanilla baileys, and honey whiskey. Opened in the spring of 2013 by two of the grandchildren of Willy and Gerda, who came to the U. S. in the mid 1900s, this bar is fantastic. As their families grew, they continued the custom of gathering to share good German food and drink in their home. By instilling the importance of tradition, Willy and Gerda's grandsons, Keith and Willy, were inspired to try to recreate the spirit of their home country. And we believe that they have honored them well.