Bar of the Week Double Review: 1534 and Mary Queen of Scots

Leslie Pariseau

[We're combining two bar of the week's this week because of technical difficulties we had last Friday. In our opinion, however, it's the more the merrier when it comes to Leslie Pariseau's write-ups of the city's best bars. You're welcome.]

1534 is the kind of place you end up at 2 a.m. and randomly run into your ex or your LES dive bartender, or that cute chick you saw at a show last week. It's also the kind of place where you begin the night and unexpectedly end it because you drank three mezcal cocktails and never left. It's a crossroads in the middle of Nolita perfect for post-dinner debauchery or cocktail hour philandering. It's underground, under the radar and just quiet enough that you can grab a booth for a group (or an à deux). The menu is divided into Americas, AOF (Afrique Occidentale Française) and Asia (Indochine France) following its above ground colonizer, Jacques. The Colonial Holiday is a French Caribbean take on tiki with apple brandy, East India sherry, demerara syrup, Velvet Falernum and fresh lime atop which coffee grounds swirl aromatically. The Bang the Drum is a play on the Old Fashioned with Cognac, Amaro and spiced syrup while the Laotian Blossom plays around with vodka, hibiscus syrup, lime, orange and basil leaves -- both well-matched for a round of spring rolls and pork ribs. Whether you arrive early or late, it's worth sticking around to see if someone will order a punch service for
the table poured out of repurposed modern style absinthe fountains. The drip may go slowly, but it goes to one's head quickly and hopefully your ex, your bartender or the tall, dark stranger your just met at the bar is paying.

20 Prince St.
(212) 966-507

Mary Queen of Scots

They say at Mary Queen of Scots' execution, it took two blows to behead her -- by some accounts, three. And then her wig fell off. At Mary's whimsically Baroque LES namesake, one drink will be enough to reel you in; a second, enough to feel like a regular and a third, by some accounts, enough to lose your own little coconut. Luckily, any sort of crowning accoutrements you've donned can be kept in place. A warm and colorful dungeon, Mary Queen of Scots is gorgeous, but not haughty (much like we've heard about Mary herself). Tartan embellishments are countered with spray paint; golden flowers grow out of booths and a cage separates the diners in back from bar guests ordering Scotch-laden cocktails like the classic Blood and Sand (Glenlivet 12 yr, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering, orange juice and a flamed orange peel). Late one eve, a group ordered fried brussel sprouts and Cognac sazeracs as advised by a Western clad barman with fantastic hair. A round of Amaro came next and curry fries, the likes of which the Queen never tasted, but most definitely would have dug. As the crowd ebbed and cocktail glasses were cleared, a fedora clad barfly leaned back to peer into the gilded mirror ceiling. Delighted by the shimmering view, she leaned a bit further and her hat tumbled onto the floor -- just as the bartender queried, "Time for round three?"

Mary Queen of Scots
115 Allen St.

1534 image via; Mary Queen of Scots image via

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