THE NEWEST MEMBER OF THE CITY SPEAKEASY CLUB SCENE, LA MILAGROSA IS ACCESSIBLE BEHIND WHAT LOOKS FOR ALL THE WORLD LIKE A TYPICAL BODEGA ON HAVEMEYER STREET
BY EVAN MONROE
One of a tiny handful of operating New York City bars that were speakeasies during the Prohibition era is Chumley’s in Greenwich Village, which is still a thrill to access via its half courtyard and minimal signage. That said, there’s a fast growing number of establishments that either mimic the character of once illegal bars, or at least their air of exclusivity. There’s Brooklyn Heights’ Le Boudoir and its rediscovered stretch of 18th century subway (see the March/April, 2017 issue), and across the river the Back Room (secreted in a back alley, and another original speakeasy) and Attaboy, both on the Lower East Side, with the latter often requiring repeated knocks on its nondescript Eldridge Street door to gain entry.
The newest member of the club is La Milagrosa, what looks for all the world like a typical bodega on Havemeyer Street (well worth visiting in its own right for awesome Mexican ingredients). The atmosphere changes quickly upon approaching the hostess, who will either let you in if it’s a reasonable hour, or give an idea of wait time. She means business, because this is a tiny place, with accommodations for perhaps 20 drinkers. The brainchild of Felipe Mendez, the culinary impresario responsible for Williamsburg faves Cerveceria Havemeyer and La Superior, and named for “the miraculous” Lady of Guadalupe, the idea here was to combine agave bar and listening room concepts. Designed to mimic the inside of a barrel, the interior’s floor to ceiling and alternating light and dark strip hardwood suitably illuminated with church like candle arrays are interrupted only by minimal seating, a compact bar top, and shelves filled with dozens and dozens of bottles of mezcal and tequila.
By all means take your elixirs straight, as we typically do, though cocktail presentations here are notably unique. The Margarita Jamaica (at left), for example, is made with tequila, Cointreau, orange bitters, fresh lime juice, and house brewed hibiscus tea a botanical and biting take on the classic marg. The New Fashioned, meanwhile, substitutes Xicaru Silver Mezcal for bourbon in a hipster riff on the New York City invented legendary potion, adding orange bitters and sugar. These all go down even better when accentuated by the terrific sound system (the interior was designed by avid musician Mendez in part to produce a soundscape) and DJ station with McIntosh equipment, no less.
There’s also small dishes on hand, including catch of the day ceviches, and spicy agua chile (featuring shrimp, cucumber, and red onion). And while it’s not impossible to expect walk up entry, reservations are highly recommended. This ain’t the corner bar, after all.
149 Havemeyer Street / 718.599.1499