The cocktails, beers, and wines on offer at Zinc Bar make a fine accompaniment to the entertainment, which encompasses all genres of live music and comedy sets. One can drink away the evening at the stainless-steel bar, or go behind the red velvet curtains to watch a show inside the more private nooks. Already offering a wide variety of music - including African, Brazilian, and Japanese - Zinc Bar has recently partnered with the GetClassical series to help bring live classical music back to the New York bar scene.
Created by Ilona Oltuski, amateur classical pianist turned music journalist, GetClassical is an endeavor of "passion and awe for classical music and the young musicians who create it today." Ilona is aware that concert hall audiences are declining and primarily represent an older demographic. The GetClassical performances are "edgy, young, but never compromise music quality,” and Ilona hopes that having these intimate presentations will be a way to reintroduce classical music to a new group of people.
Manhattan Sideways was invited to attend the first evening in the series featuring Adrianne Haan, a German-born vocalist. In an informal and interactive cabaret-style performance of incredibly high quality, Ilona remarked that Zinc Bar is the "perfect place" for her series: luxurious enough to transport people - in this case to Berlin of the 1930s - but low-key enough to not be intimidating. There is no doubt that GetClassical and Zinc Bar make an exciting combination for music lovers.
Zinc Bar is also host to New York City Chess Inc., which hosts games, tournaments, and classes daily at Zinc Bar. This added feature makes the space a chess club during the day, and a jazz club at night. Walking in, the Manhattan Sideways team was introduced to Michael, Russ, and Jenny, who, sitting in a booth across from the bar, explained that the bar was their office, where all the organization and operation of New York City Chess takes place. “We’re kind of like Tony Soprano, you know, who does all of his business out of the bar,” Michael joked. We were encouraged to stop by again to sit down for a quick game. It is free and in their words, “we’re always happy to have opponents.”
Reed Adelson, owner of the American restaurant Virginia’s, was trained by the best in the industry. He learned about wine at Bern’s Steak House in Tampa, interned at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago, then returned to his Manhattan roots to work under Jean-Georges to open the Mark Hotel, and finally worked at Locanda Verde. Riding in a car with industry legends Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller, he was presented with the answer to his doubts about working in the restaurant business, "If this is what you’re passionate about, there is nothing else you can do. It’s more of a vocation than a job choice. "Reed brought all of this expertise to open his first restaurant in 2015. Named for his mom, Virginia’s has become known for its burger, with bone marrow aioli, cabot cheddar, and house-made pickles, but there are more sophisticated dishes that deserve equal praise including the wild king salmon with red cabbage slaw and golden beet puree. Reed focuses on consistency for his menu, with a few seasonal dishes, such as the corn ravioli with fontina cheese and crispy shallots. With his eye on the future, Reed is contemplating moving a little closer to the city’s center, while admitting, "there’s something romantic about the side streets. "
Kenkeleba Garden, named for an African healing plant, is simply magical. We followed the densely forested greenery around to the back, arriving at a clearing that transported us to another world far from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. We were completely surprised when we landed in front of the sculpture garden, which is only visible from 3rd Street. From large African sculptures to collections of scraps or bricolage, a specialty of the Lower East Side art scene, we could not help but linger before doubling back and re-emerging onto the concrete sidewalks of 2nd Street. It was not until many months later, when we had the pleasure of meeting Joe Overstreet and his wife, Corinne Jennings, that we learned that this is affiliated with their gallery next door, Kenkeleba House. It is their life-long dream to someday use these grounds to build a museum that would house their massive collection of African-American art. It has an entrance on both 2nd Street and 3rd,
Book Club isn’t just for the suburbs anymore — as a new bookshop, bar and coffeehouse gives East Village denizens and beyond a new place to pore over and pour over their favorite reads. Married proprietors Erin Neary and Nat Esten, East Village residents themselves, had longed for an independent bookstore to serve the Alphabet City area, they told the Manhattan Sideways team when we popped in to see dozens of happy customers enjoying a read and a latte one sunny Friday morning. “We always thought that the neighborhood needed another bookstore, ” said Erin, “and we also kept wondering, ‘Wouldn't it be so cool if you could drink wine while you were shopping for books? ’” They decided not only to open a bookstore and bar, but to additionally add in the day-to-night-element of coffee into the mix. While both Erin and Nat had worked in hospitality before, bookselling was new to them. “I started doing research in 2017 and worked with the American Booksellers Association’s consulting program to help new bookstores get off the ground, ” said Erin. “I met with them as well as other bar owners and bookstore owners in the neighborhood and did as much research as I could without actually doing it. ” The duo launched Book Club in November 2019, enjoying an enthusiastic community reception until COVID-19 forced them to pivot. “Nate started doing bike deliveries — as many as 20 miles a day! ” Erin told us. “He’d go out to Harlem to drop off books and then all the way out to Bushwick — so a lot of people learned about the store that way. ”Once they were able to reopen to the public, Book Club forged full steam ahead in engaging the community in “book club”-esque events — from author talks to poetry readings to creative writing workshops, with additional unique offerings like an adult spelling bee and a “drink and draw” sketching class. They’ve also recently received their full liquor license, and plan to roll out literary-themed cocktails like an In Cold Bloody Mary or the Murder on the Orient Espresso Martini, Erin told us. More than anything, she added, she enjoyed having customers back in the store to guide them toward their next favorite book. “Our staff are not just really good baristas, but they’re avid readers as well. So between myself and the rest of the team, we have a really good handle on the books here — it’s fun to be able to curate not just what we stock, but to get the right book into someone’s hands. ”