Beyond the Major Music Venues
Just about every music-loving New Yorker knows about the Bowery Ballroom, the Mercury Lounge, and Rockwood Music Hall, the Lower East Side’s premier venues. This tour will take us to some of the lesser-known spots, where you can sip cocktails while listening to jazz, dance to live deejays, or get rowdy at a burlesque show.
Nine Doyers Street
This tucked-away, dimly lit cocktail bar is both soigné and decadent, with button-tufted camelback sofas in lieu of banquettes, Austrian crystal barware, and sconces made from apothecary beekers. Its cocktail menu is eclectic, organized by medicinal effects such as “aphrodisiacs” and “painkillers,” and drinks feature house-made organic botanicals and unexpected ingredient combinations. The musical lineup is equally eclectic. The weekends start with DJ Devon hitting the decks with music old and new on Friday nights and DJ Greg Poole doing the honors on Saturday nights. Live Footage—aka electric-cellist Topu Lyo and drummer/keyboardist Mike Thies—play their jazz/classical/avant-garde compositions every Sunday evening. Gabe Cummings, a singer/guitarist who specializes in soul-infused jazz—or perhaps it is jazz-infused soul—holds a Monday night residency. The fun and funky High & Mighty Brass Band hold court on Tuesday nights; Wednesday nights have a Roaring ‘20s theme, with Broadway Brassy and the Brass Knuckles playing hot jazz along with burlesque performances. Chino Pon, whose dance moves are as smooth as his vocals, leads Latin-music combo Grupo Irék on Thursday evenings.
102 Norfolk Street (between Delancey and Rivington Streets)
The Back Room was a legendary speakeasy frequented by the likes of Bugsy Siegel and Lucky Luciano. It still serves drinks in teacups as was the practice during Prohibition, and it is still accessible only via a hidden entrance (hint: look for the gate that says “Lower East Side Toy Company”). In keeping with the ‘20s ambiance, swing band the Delancey Five plays every Monday night, accompanied by a different vocalist each week.
14 Orchard Street (between Canal and Hester Streets)
Bar Belly’s oyster bar, fries served with garlic-rosemary aioli, and house cocktails such as the Mucha Chicha (a potent mix of rye-based Wódka Vodka, pisco, mescal, chicha morada, Burlesque Bitters, and fresh lemon juice) are reason enough to stop by. On weekends, however, it adds one more: live deejay sets. Through the end of October DJ Orson does the honors on Friday nights and Fabian Balino on Saturday nights. Jazz bands often play during the week; Talisman Jazz Trio, Brooklyn Caravan, and Cemre Necefbas are among those who recently tool the stay here.
168 Delancey Street (between Attorney and Clinton Streets)
The Delancey offers two floors of music, plus a year-round rooftop garden. The main floor is usually given over to deejays and dancing. Upcoming events include Jeremy Bastard and DJ Fancy spinning everything from darkwave to hip-hop on October 12, and the all-day hip-hop/zouk/Afrobeats/soca party that is AfroCode takes over on October 13. While deejays often host dance parties in the downstairs lounge as well, live bands frequently take the stage too; for instance, Gentlemen and Scholars, Tucked In, and the Asterplace play downstairs on October 10.