A senior citizen and two twenty-somethings walk into a bar like they own the place, because they do! Lullaby, the newest addition to the roster of hip watering holes in the Lower East Side is a great example of what happens when like minded partners don’t just bridge the generation gap, they barely acknowledge its existence.
Harrison Snow and Jake Hodas (they’re the younger ones) and Brother Cleve conceived the idea about a year and a half ago and the result is a lovely, and lively, basement spot on Rivington Street that aims to provide world class cocktails at a reasonable price.
Snow met Cleve (who presumably has a last name, but won’t admit to it) in Boston when he worked under him at the Paris Creperie, where Cleve had created a very extensive cocktail menu.
Cleve, whose resume includes being a member of the rocking Del Fuegos and possibly the best of the exotica revival bands, Combustible Edison, has a long history of research into cocktails. He’s still a working session musician, DJ, record producer and composer, and is in the process of consulting on yet another major bar scheduled to open in a few years in Boston.
Hodas and Snow met in Boston as well, but both ended up in Brooklyn, eventually unemployed due to the pandemic. Snow, who has “a deep passion” for creating drinks, began a side hustle selling bottled cocktails to friends, creating menus of the available drinks and labelling the bottles that went out.
Hodas liked to hang out Snow, imbibing and reminiscing about their favorite bars. Eventually it began to dawn on them that they could have their own bar — “After all,” said Hodas, “why not us?”
Snow immediately realized that they had to get Cleve involved.
“He’s the godfather of the Boston cocktail movement!” Snow exclaims. “Everyone in Boston reveres him.”
It was a perfect choice. “We make awesome drinks when we collaborate,” he adds.
That awesomeness is on display in the drink menu, which features hints at the makeup of the drink but not necessarily the ingredients.
Take “The Mezcal Drink,” one of the best sellers, which is described as “pink-refreshing- botanical-peach.” It’s a phrase that doesn’t quite prepare you for the actual list of ingredients: Fidencio Clasico mezcal, Kina L’Aero d’Or, Campari, Giffard Crème de Peche liqueur, Yellow Chartreuse, lime juice, saline solution and a basil leaf garnish.
“The Whiskey Drink ” actually contains mascarpone cheese and “The Dole Whip” is their version of a kid’s drink sold in Disney theme parks.
“I’d been hallucinating about that one for years,” Cleve reveals. “I knew it would make an amazing cocktail, but it was tougher than I thought.”
On opening night, customers enthusiastically gave their approval to the concoctions made by the ace bartenders Snow and Brian Miller, formerly of Death & Co.
Evan Finney, who lives nearby, stopped in to check it out and proclaimed that “the drinks are phenomenal. The best I’ve had in a long time, for a reasonable price.”
Topping out at $15, the cocktails include the very popular $10 “House Punch,” which East Village artist Delphine LeGoff described as “very refreshing — weird, but in a good way. It was kind of like a little slap in your teeth.”
Besides the mixology, Lullaby strives for a ambience that recalls days gone by.
Hodas, who is responsible for the creative direction and marketing of the place, explained that, “I enjoy a quality drink, but that’s not how I pick the bars I hang out in.”
“People are always talking about places from10-15 years ago that are gone. This was an opportunity to reclaim something of New York City that’s been lost,” he added.
Lullaby’s design is a collaboration between the partners and local artists, with a special added ingredient. “My father is a professional boatbuilder,” says Snow. “He and I built most of the place ourselves.”
Adding to the ambience is Brother Cleve’s musical taste, which, he admits, “tends towards the obscure.” First night patrons got a taste as Cleve did the DJ honors with 7″ 45-albums. He will be designing playlists for the future, which will presumably include some of the gems he spun on opening night.
The range runs from Brazilian Funk to Japanese 80’s pop from Tatsuro Wamashita to the Latin sound of Ralph Weeks to something we actually recognized, the Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach.”
Cleve is optimistic for the joint’s future because, he says, “there’s a lot more awareness now of cocktail culture. People are ready for it, they want it and we are giving it to them.”