How do you make a speakeasy even more of a secret? Add a speakeasy within a speakeasy.
Those who’ve been to Mulberry Project in Little Italy know to look for some stairs leading down to a red door, somewhere between the Italian American Museum and Mambo Italiano Ristorante & Piano Bar. There’s no sign.
Wander in to the back and an unmarked door leads you to Project 1919, a pop-up speakeasy that will be open for three months. The venue, which opened this past Tuesday, packs in about 38 people in a tiny space which is in fact actually housed in a 14-foot by 14-foot tent placed on top of the back garden. But you’d never know. It has all the appearance of a secret back room, with dark wood all throughout, and the small bar at the back, adding to an intimate vibe.
The garden is well-used during the summer months, but not normally in the winter, until the pop-up idea came.
Head mixologists Sam Ziar and Jasper Soffier created the cocktail program to focus on stirred-only brown liquor drinks. Brown liquor qualifies as anything that’s been aged, according to Ziar—from rum to tequila, to whiskey and bourbon. But the drinks also aim to please those who might not normally reach for a stiff one at day’s end.
“What we’ve tried to do is show people that we can serve you a brown liquor stirred drink that doesn’t have to be so stiff and so harsh,” Ziar said.
The program, created by Ziar and Soffer, consists of 10 classics and 10 original drinks (at $15 each). A couple of the cocktails have downright floral notes, as in the Frank Yale with its notes of orange blossom and Earl Grey syrup, with cognac and yellow Chartreuse.
Among other creative cocktails, you’ll find Dutch Schultz (bourbon, Ramazotti, crème de cassis, Gran Classico Kina); or Adolphus Bush (apricot-infused calvados, cognac, byrrh). Among the classics are mint juleps, Manhattans, and Rob Roys.
Small plates are also offered, including Portuguese octopus ($14) and fried Brussels sprouts ($9).
Reservations are required; tables seat up to four people. As of its opening night, Project 1919 was booked for the next two weeks.
(Located in the back of Mulberry Project)
149 Mulberry Street
Monday–Saturday: 5 p.m. till late