The Beer Garden at The Standard Hotel, 848 Washington St, 212-645-4646
There are balls everywhere. There isn’t enough room for the two ping-pong tables at the center of the new Beer Garden at the Standard Hotel, so white plastic orbs are constantly flying under the feet and at the backs of people seated at the picnic tables. A huge, kitty litter box-style ashtray at the center of the bar encourages smoking, and the tourist-and-club hopper clientele gladly obliges. The Beer Garden, an attempt at a mid-priced outdoor bar by the developers of the Highline-straddling hotel, falls way, way short of being the low-key summertime hangout its designers hoped for.
The icy beer maids in updated dirndls are mainly to blame. The bar was at a third of its capacity on a Monday night, but it still took roughly 15 minutes to get anyone to pay attention to us between rounds. At one point, in a plea for attention, I waved furiously at a waitress who was standing by the bar, talking to a man in a guayabera. She saw me flailing, stared back coldly for a few beats, and continued her conversation. Not exactly a feel-good, neighborhood bar vibe, guys.
When we did attract the fleeting, grudging attention of our server, we found out that the bar doesn’t actually serve much beer. Taps for draughts are coming in September along with brats and other Deutsch-style fare, but for now there are only Amstel Light, Pilsner, Grolsch , and Porkslap in bottles for roughly $7. The main attraction currently is the cocktail menu from the indoor lounge, made up of ten cocktails culled from New York speakeasies from the 1920’s (all $10). Pretty incongruous with the setting, but how much can you complain about delicious, old-timey cocktails? Highlights of the “East Side” menu (drinks from bars that were on the east side of Manhattan) included the “Bee’s Knees,” a cold, mild rush of gin, lemon, and honey, and the “Summer Bramble” with macerated berries—a refreshing and mildly pine-y gin mix. The “West Side” menu included the “Speakeasy,” syrupy rye and housemade absinthe bitters served like a neat glass of whiskey, the “Penny Drop,” a vodka drink with housemade ginger cordial, and the “Jackie 60” a smoky, earthy blend of mescal, agave nectar, lime juice and smoked salt. Each menu included a non-alcoholic cocktail for $7, but what’s the point of that? An “Elderflower Spritz” combines elderflower syrup, lime juice, and simple syrup, and a “Virgin Mojito” is muddled mint, lime juice, simple syrup and 7-Up. I’m sure they’re delicious.
So in conclusion, skip this spot if you’re looking for that ping-pongy, carefree beer bar experience. If you want to get treated badly and hit by balls, this is your place.