Tucked beneath Upper East Side beer behemoth is the neighborhood’s newest (and most clandestine) nocturnal tropical paradise. From the team behind upstairs cohort Treadwell Park comes Sugar East, a reinvented subterranean speakeasy and cigar lounge inspired by tiki culture of a bygone era with the occasional nod to old Havana. Guests are welcomed to puff on cigars or cigarillos alongside rum-filled coconuts (but not to worry — the top-grade ventilation system prevents non-smoking guests from being bothered).
The cocktail menu, designed by bar cognoscente Jeremy Strawn, features modern riffs on midcentury classics; highlights include the aforementioned coconut (Havana Club, Fernet, absinthe, coconut juice, lime, burnt cinnamon), the Grapefruit (Codigo Rosa tequila, grapefruit, lavender honey, lemon, egg white), and the Pistachio (Royal Elite vodka, pistachio, matcha tea, lime, nutmeg). For a smokier route in place of a drag, opt for the Smoke (Rittenhouse rye, Luxardo, Ardbeg scotch, Amaro Montenegro, Siete mezcal, charcoal). Sugar East’s food menu is also worth writing home about, featuring elevated starters like tartares and lobster arepas, segueing into heartier mains (Cuban sandwich and chorizo skewers, most notably). For dessert, don’t miss out on the Floating Islands, a rich take on the Iles Flottantes made up of a poached meringue in custard sauce topped with coconut.
Contact your concierge for reservations and personal menu favorites; we’ll tell you where the candy necklaces are hidden.
1125 First Avenue (entrance between 61st and 62nd Streets)
Images courtesy of Sugar East