The Second Floor Bar, 25 Cooper Square
At some point in the near future, lopsided hotspot the Cooper Square Hotel will have a big, thrumming bar inside its soon-to-open Table 8 restaurant. Currently, the intimate Second Floor Bar is mixing made-to-order cocktails and delicious classics for hotel guests and locals wanting a peak inside the new Carlos Zapata-designed landmark. The hotel's as slick and modern and mildly unsettling on the inside as on the out: the Second Floor Bar features tiny, ovular tables and chairs, floor-to-ceiling frosted glass door and walls, and a soundtrack of spacey indie rock (Flaming Lips, The Stills) and electronic bossa nova. In a few weeks, the glass wall facing the back sides of the 5th and 6th Street brownstones will open on to an outdoor patio, creating a lofted outdoor drinking space with views of the insides of neighboring apartments. The bar's spotless minimalism is softened by a full-wall bookcase featuring hardcover novels and coffee table books about Marilyn Monroe, and the exceptionally friendly bartenders don't mind if you take them down. It's definitely a grownup bar, but in a good way (not a "Don't touch the books, please" way).
On a Sunday night the Second Floor Bar was nearly empty, but the Friday and Saturday night crowds had the place packed. The bar doesn't have an official cocktail menu yet, but drink prices will range from $10 to $14, with wines by the glass running from $10 to $16. In the meantime, bartender Jigmed Latshang is serving his own inventive, fresh drinks. Prices seem a little up in the air for now, but the average is about ten bucks.
Given the parameters "flowery and strong," Latshang blended kumquats, lime, mint, peach bitters, elderflower liqueur, and Bombay Sapphire for a refreshing and flavorful spring libation. A Tom Collins featured fresh-squeezed citrus and a healthy serving of gin that didn't overtake the drink's delicate flavors, and a sidecar came in a highball glass, which, according to Latshang, "gives a better sugar rim" (it does!). The final drink of the night was a "Basil 8" ($12), the Table 8 signature cocktail, which tastes surprisingly like a potable Caprese salad. Served in a Collins glass, the delicious Basil 8 combines crushed grapes, lime, basil, simple syrup and gin, and is presented with a tiny grapes-and-mint-on-a-toothpick boat.
The Second Floor Bar is designed for small groups — only one table seats more than two people. This won't be your go-to Saturday night raging place, but it's a fine (if a little icy-sleek) spot for a good cocktail with friends. Plus the inside of the hotel is super cool.