Bars, Serves /

Black Crescent, NYC

“I don’t consider us a cocktail bar. I mean, we have a cocktail menu,” Reynolds says, laughing. “And we do make a lot of cocktails. But really, we’re just a local spot. And it’s everybody’s bar when they come in here, it’s not my bar. That’s how I like to see it.”

Reynolds makes the Smashmouth at Black Crescent in Manhattan.

We’re at Black Crescent in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and already owner M. Reynolds has made us feel like one of his regulars. For one, Reynolds’s demeanor is supremely approachable; his shirt reads “Oh, Hello,” and his face lights up when he speaks. For another, the bar is easy to walk into. It’s worn in, comfortable, airy. Large windows allow for prime New York people watching. Notes and drawings pock the walls, evidence of four years of regulars and staff members who have shared, or served, a drink here.

In a city where bars and restaurants come and go, four years is an impressive age to reach. But we’re not surprised; small touches make this place a real gem. For example, even on a busy Friday night Reynolds will greet and chat with everyone who comes in, and make sure to say goodbye when they go. It makes a difference.

For anyone unfamiliar with the neighborhood, the Lower East Side is red hot, and Black Crescent counts itself among quite a few hip bars and restaurants. But Reynolds doesn’t see them as competition, he sees them as neighbors.

Reynolds builds the Smashmouth at Black Crescent in Manhattan

“Everyone that’s around us is so different, everyone brings something to the table,” he says. “Thankfully we’re not the late-night spot anymore, though. We used to be, and we’d be here until 8, 9 in the morning.” He looks off, wistfully. “Anyway, we stopped doing that right after the fire.”

Wait, tell us about the fire.

“It was a Friday night, the bar was half full, and we had an electrical fire in the basement.” Throughout our conversation, Reynolds has been doing a series of tasks–pouring fresh juices in bottles, setting up bitters on the bar, checking for stock in the lowboys. But at this memory, he stops for a moment. “It took us four months to rebuild the bar, and another 10 months for the gas to be turned back on.”

Were you able to bounce back quickly?

“Yes, and no.” He smiles, and resumes his work. “When we first reopened, people were excited to have us back. But then it died down, because New Yorkers forget shit really quick.”

Reynolds shakes the Smashmouth at Black Crescent in Manhattan.

Too many shiny things to look at.

“Exactly. But then our locals came through. And our doors are still open. I can’t say that for a lot of places around us.”

It is true that the topography of the neighborhood is in a constant state of change. But let’s be honest; New York wouldn’t be New York if not for change, and especially if not for New Yorkers who complain about that change. But at Black Crescent, that’s neither here nor there; step into this bar, and it matters little whether it’s been around for four years or forty. What matters is that everyone really feels like a neighbor.

Smashmouth

by M. Reynolds (aka Reynolds, aka Reynolds Reynolds)

Ingredients

  • 2 oz/60ml Brockmans Gin
  • .25 oz/7ml Green Chartreuse
  • .25 oz/7ml simple syrup
  • 3 lemon wedges
  • 5 mint leaves

Method

  1. At bottom of tin, muddle lemon wedges and mint leaves.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, and whip shake (vigourously, for just a few seconds) with a small amount of crushed ice.
  3. Do not strain; dump everything into the bottom of a rocks glass.
  4. Pack the glass generously with crushed ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Do not miss the chance to visit Reynolds at Black Crescent. You’ll walk in a stranger and leave a local.