Confession time. I have been so busy with cooking for clients, Harlem EatUp! and my latest project in Washington Heights (wait until I get into that in the coming weeks), I have been remiss on reporting some of the new openings in Harlem. My bad. However, I am about to make good on my slacking and I think you are going to dig it.
Last week I made it over to a new bar on Frederick Douglas Boulevard. If I did not tell you, you might have already walked by it wondering what this dark façade, paned windows, drawn curtains locale housed. It is the latest craft cocktail bar Sugar Monk (@SugarMonk, 2292 F Douglass Boulevard, 917.409.0028, sugarmonklounge.com).
Life and business partners, mixologist and visual artist, Ektoras Binikos, and photographer and designer, Simon Jutras, opened Sugar Monk to pay homage to the history of Harlem, their home of many years. “Sugar” for the foundation of spirits, “monk” for jazz icon Thelonious Monk, Sugar Monk is their idea of a modern Harlem salon.
Friend and ExperienceHarlem.com owner, Angie Hancock, and I walked over to Sugar Monk to check it out. Entering, you see the entire space—charcoal gray painted walls, low velvet seating, unique lighting, a rainforest mural and of course the featured mirror-backed bar with an impressive collection of spirits.
Angie and I began our journey at the bar with one of the rubber-smocked mixologists, Tom. He made suggestions from Ektoras’ meticulously crafted menu (prices start at $13), based on our favorite spirits. Angie began with a bourbon cocktail and I a gin cocktail with cucumber, yuzu, lime, kaffir lime syrup and garnished with a sugar snap pea called Bemsha Swing.
For our next two rounds we retired to a table under the “shade” of the palm trees of what turns out to be a hand painted wallpaper mural. Our next cocktails, a Ron Zacapa 23-year rum libation called Round Midnight for Angie and I enjoyed the Absolut Kelly ingredients of black sesame, activated charcoal and bergamot bitters, adorned with red shiso leaves.
Small bites arrived from the 4×4 prep area starring organic chicken liver pate with wild mushrooms and pomegranate jelly prepared by renaissance man, Simon. Artisanal cheese board, olives, cornichon and housemade hummus made an appearance and not soon after, handmade boozy chocolate truffles.
Now, while this 30+ seat space was full, there was no one standing. That is by design in order to maintain their guests’ comfort and an enjoyable decibel level in the space. These guys made sure they did their research and delivered on a need in the neighborhood.
Good on you Ektoras and Simon. I look forward to a few Cheers moments when I walk in next. Best wishes.
Happy eating and thanks for reading!
Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, www.talkingSCHOP.wordpress.com. Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at AmNewsFOOD@SCHOPnyc.com. Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!