blueowllogo.jpgWe didn't crash the party. We didn't fall down the stairs and hope for the 20's to envelope us. We never, ever wanna see the word "speakeasy" in a press release again. But, we like Blue Owl. And it, like the card says, is more of a cocktail room than a bar, though the house red is better than we expected, by leaps and drunken bounds.

blueowl bar.jpgJ. Ashley Smith has opened his fourth venture from construction with Jim Bulgatz downstairs on a the strip of Second Avenue this writer used to refer to as the "block on which we buy the Sunday Times at five am as we stumble home." We never thought there would be brushed tin benches, let alone comfortable ones, lovely soft lighting and a somewhat secret lounge parallel to the bar and the only other hall. We also like the dj, relaxed, or a born exhibitionist, in his picture-framed cubbyhole, and the bartenders -- one from Pravda, another top shelf place, and the other absolutely gorgeous -- both know their way around back there.

The focus is on true prohibition era beverages so there's a lot of gin on the menu- we tried the eponymous cocktail, named after something nocturnal and a bit racy- it is Magellan blue gin, lemon juice, and maraschino cherry. Our favorite, though, was the Bobby Burns, a classic done well here, with Famous Grouse Scotch, sweet vermouth, Benedectine liquor and served with lemon.

Blue Owl
196 Second avenue between 12th and 13th Street
(212) 505-2583