Once upon a time there was a great little cocktail bar in the East Village—so great, in fact, that its only downfall was its size limitation, accommodating just 36 guests. Mace originally opened in 2015 as a bar with a pretty straightforward inspiration: travel. It quickly transported its patrons to other parts of the world by highlighting spices from around the globe, many exotic or hard to find, all masterfully incorporated into cocktails. It’s easy to see why Mace very quickly became one the most acclaimed and popular bars to hit the neighborhood, quickly piling up accolades that have consecutively put it on the World’s Best Bars list.
This East Village Bar Is Basically a Trip Around the World (Via Cocktails)
Now, the beloved haunt has graduated to new, larger digs, also in the East Village, a neighborhood that co-owner Greg Boehm insists is “part of Mace’s DNA.” The new space is the sort of dimly lit, neighborhoody environment you’d seek out for a first date or a gossip session with your three closest amigas. Grab a seat at the zinc-topped bar—which backs up to an extraordinary wall full of backlit booze and spice jars from around the world—or snag a table beneath hanging plants, framed butterflies and other interesting trinkets and curios from far-off lands. And then there are the exposed brick walls and the floor-to-ceiling windows that offer prime Alphabet City people watching.
The upgraded Mace boasts more seating, of course, and plenty of standing space when the bar is busy. One major change at Mace version 2.0 is a kitchen pumping out small bites by chef Nick Sorrentino, including house-made crisps with buttermilk jalapeño ranch, muhammara (a red-pepper dip served with pita chips), charcuterie platters, and pork and ricotta meatballs with semolina toast.
But what’s really set Mace apart over the years and still rings true in its new digs are the sophisticated cocktails, among the most unique we’ve ever had. The extensive bar list has something for any palate, and a few that will even expand the horizons of libation connoisseurs, with ingredient-driven names like Ghost Chili (white cocoa fat-washed aquavit, passionfruit purée, coconut milk, ghost chili tincture, egg), Kimchi (kimchi-infused ouro cachaça, purple yam and toasted coconut, egg, smoked salt) and Grass (silver needle white tea–infused shochu, grass cordial). Just take one look at this menu. We promise you’ll be intrigued by what bar master and co-owner Nicolas de Soto has put together.
“The drinks are inspired by spices and flavor memories encountered by me and the bar team through extensive global travels,” de Soto says. “This opening list reflects the favorites of our guests, as well as our bartenders, and encapsulates our drinks odyssey over four years,” he adds, noting that his team is already working on an updated spring menu. And considering de Soto has visited almost 90 countries (and worked in 33 of them), we’re guessing his creations might even inspire your future travel plans.
Mace | 505 E. 12th St.; macenewyork.com