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Eat and Drink

Banzarbar’s head bartender on where she goes when she’s off the clock

Eryn Reece has been enjoying some extra time off.

The mixologist is the head bartender at Banzarbar, a new concept above Freemans Restaurant that after debuting earlier this month is open Thursday through Saturday.

“I’ve been able to get out and visit more friends that I normally wouldn’t have been able to visit, which is nice,” said Reece, whose visits primarily include checking out other bars in the city.

But in the coming weeks, the 20-seat Lower East Side cocktail bar will be adding a few more nights a week to its hours.

“I’m going to be living there,” Reece joked.

In any event, she’s familiar with the grind. Before Banzarbar, Reece, 34, had honed her craft cocktail skills working with pioneering mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim and with stints at mezcal bar Mayahuel, the influential cocktail lounge Death & Co and the year-old Wooly Public in the Woolworth building. 

The gig: Banzarbar

Banzarbar head bartender Eryn Reece. Photo credit: Eric
Photo Credit: Eric Medsker

Like the bar décor, Reece’s cocktail menu at Banzarbar is inspired by 20th-century expeditions. 

“They wanted to play around with the thought of explorers,” Reece said. “I thought it would be a great way to play around with interesting flavors people don’t find all the time.” 

That’s translated into such a la carte cocktails as the Deception Island, with gin, aquavit, verjus, olive leaf and thyme. 

“It you were to look at it, it just looks like a gin martini with some other ingredients,” Reece said. “The verjus adds this really lovely brightness to the drink, which you’re not expecting.”

Banzarbar also offers a five-course tasting menu of low-ABV cocktails paired with seafood dishes.

As Banzarbar gears up for an expanded schedule, we spoke to the East Village resident about where she likes to go to when she’s not behind the bar herself.

The neighborhood go-to: Good Night Sonny

Good Night Sonny in NYC. photo provided by
Photo Credit: Good Night Sonny

“Good Night Sonny sees me more often than maybe they’d like. They’re the guys who have The Wayland \[and\] The Lost Lady. They have great drinks til 4 a.m., and really amazing food til 4 a.m. Not many people do that very well, if at all. It’s really nice that you can find a place that has all of it.” (134 First Ave., Manhattan,

Near the ‘office’: Mother’s Ruin

Mother's Ruin, a watering hole in NoLita in
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

“One for after work is Mother’s Ruin. It’s just a block and a half from the bar. Two of my really good friends, TJ [Lynch] and Richard [Knapp], have owned it for many years. They have done really well with it. They just opened another place near my house, Loverboy. Mother’s Ruin has been my little go-to if I get off early enough to go enjoy before the crowds are crazy.” 18 Spring St., (Manhattan

Newest discovery: George Washington Bar

George Washington Bar. Credit: Adrian Gaut
Photo Credit: Adrian Gaut

“I just actually went to and had a really lovely experience checking out the guys at the Freehand hotel. I had some really beautiful drinks from them at the George Washington Bar. The room is beautiful. I had a really great experience there.” (Freehand New York, 23 Lexington Ave., Manhattan,

Favorite bar food: Bar Goto

Bar Goto. For Best Of Manhattan bars
Photo Credit: Daniel Krieger

“This is one I don’t get to as much as I’d like, but I love it if I can, especially if they’re still serving food. They have amazing wings and celery sticks. Which does not sound great. I’m not a huge chicken wing fan, but the way they do them is beautiful. I order them every single time. It’s always a great time seeing those guys — really great bites, lovely drinks.” (245 Eldridge St., Manhattan,

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