BWW Preview: ETHYLS ALCOHOL AND FOOD on the UES for a Cool 70s Vibe
Ethyl's Alcohol & Food is a wild ride back into 1970s New York City that injects new life into an Upper East Side scene that was once the hottest part of town. Ethyl's was founded in May 2016 and is led by an eclectic team of rock stars who were there in the heyday of the disco, punk and rock 'n' roll scenes in NYC. Co-owner and designer Paul Gerard is an acclaimed NYC restaurateur, chef and musician known for capturing the retro spirit of the city with places such as Belle Reve and Exchange Alley, after revamping larger venues like Soho House, and Soho Grand Hotel. He has also ventured into TV with his show "Work The Line," with executive producers Anthony Bourdain and Tom Colicchio. Without stopping there, he continued to use his creative energy to design his latest project, Antique Bar & Bakery in Hoboken.
To create the Ethyl's concept, he partnered with Gerard Renny, AKA "The Skipper," a Brooklyn-born, seasoned industry veteran, cookbook author, and former doorman at the original Studio 54. Renny created such restaurants as critically acclaimed Bar Stuzzichini, and founded Pacific Street Hospitality consulting group. Paul also brought to the team his lifelong friend, Ronnie Magri, a drummer, actor, DJ, and Geffen recording artist who played with Little Richard, Joey Ramone and a series of greats that earned him the title at Ethyl's of "Consigliere of Cool." Magri also created the score for Broadway show "Present Laughter" by Noel Coward starring Kevin Kline, and served as guest of honor at BurlyCon, an annual burlesque social and educational convention. He uses his musical experience to ignite the crowd with his electric playlist. To complete the cast of characters at Ethyl's is Lower East Side-born, managing "animateur" Adam "Skinny Papa" Velez, who was a co-host with Paul on their Heritage Radio Show "Eating Disorder," a Maître'd at Soho Grand Hotel, and all around nightlife guru. Adam moves the crowd like no other can with his witty banter, good looks, and groovy moves.
The space decked out in the regalia of the 70's, with icons, starlets, poets and punk rockers adorn the cherry red walls, along with X-Rated movie posters like Fritz the Cat and Princess Seka, set against a black brick wall behind the jet-black bar area glistening with gold lights. The crimson swivel chairs and plush leather banquettes are perfectly in keeping with the theme, while a shimmering disco ball radiates rotating flecks of color across a stage set up with a full back-line of instruments, always ready for the impromptu jam. "Sexy Sinema" from the 1960s and 1970s play on a projector to help create a constant state of movement at Ethyl's and every Wednesday through Saturday nights after 10 p.m., go-go dancers will sway to the sounds of 1970s funk and disco jams from a rotating cast of DJs, as the chill early week allows locals to sit, sing along, sip, and eat in their neighborhood local.
Themed entertainment nights are featured throughout the week, including Playland! on Tuesdays at 8 p.m., featuring live rock 'n' roll, garage, and punk music and remixes by "The James Gang" of DJ Tommy James and host Adam James Velez. Wednesdays include Bingo-a-Go-Go with Dandy Dillinger and prizes like bar tabs, shots, and trinkets from 8 p.m. - late night. Every Thursday beginning at 10 p.m. is DJ Ronnie Magri's "Taboo" night, featuring funk, soul and disco tunes from the 1960s and 1970s. Then every Friday and Saturday is Ethyl's Go-Go Get Down from 10 p.m. - 4 a.m., featuring a rotating line up of live DJ music and go-go dancers.
The creative food offerings by Executive Chef Paul Gerard draw on the fun and playful themes of the restaurant, but with serious kitchen skills that reinforce the establishment's '70s New York cool. Colloquially named options doused in punk-rock attitude include the Fi-Dolla Burger, a single all-beef patty, layered with melted American cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and house "Go-Go Sauce," a signature version of Thousand Island dressing. The burger can be enhanced with add-ons like a fried egg, caramelized onion, guacamole, bacon, or you can "Make It a Double" or order "The Stacked Ethyl" with the works. The Coventry Burger Sub is named after "The Coventry," the acclaimed rock club that launched KISS, The Ramones and others. The sandwich pays homage to the trendy foods of the 1970s - like pretzels with Port Wine, and watercress, with an all-beef 8 oz patty "KISS"ed with port wine cheese, crispy bacon, sautéed onion and watercress on a pretzel hero bun, slathered in go-go sauce. Other creative favorites are the Mozzarella French Toast with spicy maple tomato dip, and inventive takes on Mexican cuisine like the Cheese-stuffed Mexican Meatballs with molé sauce. The menu also offers a nod to New Orleans with Dirty Fries doused in a creamy signature gravy blend of ground chicken livers and pork with creole spices.
The cocktails at Ethyl's stay decidedly on theme, from The Sleazy Mustache with mezcal, honey syrup, lime juice, bitters and egg white that leaves behind a frothy "mustache" on your upper lip, to the Hot Blooded with tequila, blood orange, agave, muddled jalapeño and fresh lime juice. The bar staff is headed by Julia Daniels who radiates the Ethyl's energy with her experience, style and energy. Affordably priced global beer is available by the bottle or on draft. A well-selected wine menu is also affordably priced by the glass and bottle.
Ethyl's Alcohol and Food is located at 1629 2nd Avenue between East 84th and 85th streets, New York, NY 10028. 212-300-4132. http://www.ethylsnyc.com/. Hours of operation are: Monday-Friday 4 p.m. - 4 a.m., Saturday and Sunday noon-4 a.m. Kitchen open daily until 4 a.m.
Photo Credit: Noah Fecks