The neon signs advertising bargain beers and cigarette brands have been replaced with tasteful sconces and the vinyl seats are no longer held together by tape. Those are but a few of the changes longtime East Village dive Holiday Cocktail Lounge underwent during its phoenix-like transformation into its shinier, more debonair self. The scuffed up chairs have been removed, the scuzzy floor replaced and the menu given the craft cocktail overhaul. In short, this isn't your mother's HCL.
As was foretold, the 2.0 version of the bar opened last night with snack mogul Robert Ehrlich and nightlife names Michael and Danny Neff at the helm. Together, they've scrubbed away the scuzzy scrim of the former bar and given it a trendy mixology update. Craft cocktails—ranging in price from $12 to $14—include things like egg whites, raw honey syrup, "cobbled ice" and philosophical musings from the likes of Paul Reubens and Madonna.
Critics might have a laugh at the "East Village Foraged" section of the menu, which purports to contain different ingredients and components each day from around the neighborhood. There's also a cutesy "Research & Development" option ($10) to sip whatever cocktails the bartenders are brewing for future menu placement. Or, there are $5 pints of Narragansett.
75 St. Marks Place, 212-777-9637; website. Open daily 3 p.m. to 4 a.m.