James Beard Nominee Matthew Piacentini Mixes High-End Cocktails and Serious Hospitality To Create a Low-Key Bar in New York’s Greenwich Village.
In the late 1800s, if something was on “the up and up” it was legit, honest and respectable. It is with this definition in mind that Matthew Piacentini, former owner of The Beagle in New York and head bartender at Intoeca e Liquori bar, named his new subterranean bar – The Up & Up – in New York’s Greenwich Village. Follow the illuminated arrow pointing down the stairs from MacDougal Street into a neighborhood cocktail bar, where expertly crafted cocktails, straight spirits, and beer find the perfect blend of intricacy and approachability.
“Guided by the mantra high-end, low-key, The Up & Up is the marriage of an intimate, private cocktail den and a social, comfortable neighborhood bar where hospitality and skill work in concert and there’s something for all tastes,”
says Piacentini, who is also the current owner of the acclaimed gastropub Clyde Common inside the original ACE Hotel in Portland, OR, which was a finalist for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program and voted “Best Hotel Bar in the World” at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards in 2013. Alongside Piacentini, who is making a return to bartending, will be former Intoeca e Liquori bar head bartender and colleague, Chaim Dauermann, who joins The Up & Up as head bartender, having recently lead the bar teams at Gin Palace and Desnuda Williamsburg.
The Up & Up menu features eight house cocktails, showcasing a breadth of styles, four rotating bottled cocktails, and two cocktails on tap. Also on the menu is a selection of half-sized cocktails or “craft-shots”, as well as five bottled beer offerings, including Miller High Life. The wine list features sparkling wines, as well as a broad range of fortified wines such as Sherry, Madeira, and Pineau des Charentes. The food menu includes bar snacks, preserves and pates. Prices range from $8-$14 (cocktails), $5-9 (beer), $10-18 (wine), $14-$105 (bottled cocktails) and $9-18 (food).
The house cocktail offerings are categorized as “Originals,” “Halfies,” and “Favorites,” which features cocktails from the classic era, contemporary bartenders, and drinks from Piacentini and Dauermann’s favorite venues:
The Rose Among Thorns – Aquavit, Gin and Amaro Montenegro
Strunk Text – Silver Tequila, Lime Juice, Pink Peppercorn Chanterelle Mushroom Syrup, Amaro dell’Erborista, Bittermen’s Celery Shrub
Quinine Jimmy – TomR’s Tonic, Angostura, Lime Peel
Slam Busy – Chief Gowanus Gin, Amaro Montenegro, Aquavit
Shaddock & Smoke – Ardbeg Scotch, Grapefruit Liqueur, Amaretto, Lemon Juice, Seltzer
Astor Painless Anesthetic – Gin, Armagnac, Cocchi Americano, Bonal Gentiane Quina, Orange Bitters
The Up & Up also offers a new take on Bottle Service: a choice of individual bottled cocktails as single servings or large-format bottled cocktails (375ml and 750ml) for groups. The larger bottles are served chilled along with glassware, ice, garnish and accoutrements for guests to pour their own cocktails. The selections are variations of classic stirred drinks, influenced by personalities in the spirits industry who have inspired The Up & Up team and earned a drink named in their honor.
The Greenbaum Negroni – Perry’s Tot Navy Strength Gin, Campari, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
(as ordered by Attaboy bartender and former co-owner of The Beagle, Dan Greenbaum)
The Teague Old Flaskoned Single Serving Flask Bottle – Old Overholt Rye, Demerara Syrup, Angostura Bitters, Regan’s Orange Bitters
(a favorite of Sother Teague, head bartender at Amor y Amargo)
The Up & Up occupies a space that formerly housed The Gaslight Café, an American coffeehouse that opened in 1958 and became a notable venue for musical acts such as Bob Dylan and famous beat poets like Allen Ginsberg and LeRoi Jones, before closing in 1971. The décor, a mix of 19th century English Arts and Crafts, and turn of the century Vienna, evokes a history of modern designs, inspired in part by the American Bar, Vienna, 1903, and grand hotel bars of the times. Vintage floral William Morris wallpaper compliments brown leather banquettes, marble table tops, brass light fixtures and wood surfaces to create an elegant and refined, yet approachable environment for guests.
Piacentini also continued his tradition of putting a bottle of Scotch whisky in the wall during construction.
“When I opened Clyde Common, it required digging into the foundation of what was originally the Clyde Hotel built in 1912; with The Beagle, we renovated a space that was 120 years old, and The Up & Up’s real estate also has a storied history,”
says Piacentini. After finding a selection of items in the walls at the Clyde, he was inspired to put a bottle in the walls of The Beagle under the support beams with a personal note and continues the tradition today. “For The Up & Up, we selected The Glenrothes Vintage 1992 2nd Edition, a rare and special vintage that we hope to remove and toast after 10 years, or leave for some lucky person to enjoy in the future.”
The Up & Up, located at 116 MacDougal Street, is open Sunday to Wednesday, 5pm to 2am; Thursday to Saturday, 5pm to 3am.