I love Angel’s Share almost as much I dislike the better-known, tourist-trap speakeasy bars nearby. There’s none of the arrogance and attitude here that seem to define so many other East Village mixology destinations. Angel’s Share is a sophisticated spot that just happens to be hidden away behind an unmarked door in the corner of an upstairs Japanese izakaya, Village Yokocho. It’s only for those who know about it, and those who know about it are the kind of people I’m happy to share drinking space with.
The room might not be particularly special, but the experience it offers is. Head upstairs, turn left away from the restaurant and open the door. The best seats are the booths by the windows (you need to be a foursome to get one – the maximum group size admitted), and it’s a place best suited for dark winter evenings, when the dim amber light makes it feel intimate and somewhat Victorian. The bar staff is entirely Japanese: there are Japanese cherubs painted in a giant mural above the spirits; the cocktail list ($14-$16) is geared towards Asian ingredients: premium whisky, rice vodka and mirin; and there’s a short menu of Japanese bar snacks. Drinks come in a variety of glasses and lovely ceramics, often with theatrical flourishes (the bourbon-based Smoke Gets in Your Eyes appears in a cloud of fragrant smoke).
I’ve tried every drink on the list and the key reason for my regular visits is the Flirtibird ($15), a mix of Mizu Shochu, yuzu and grassy shiso. It’s served with a pressing of plum salt around the rim of the glass – something so delicious that I searched grocers for years to find an equivalent to use at home (I finally found some on honeymoon in Hawaii and bought it in bulk).
The bar is open from 6pm each night and I’ve usually found no difficulty in getting a seat before 7.30pm or when I’ve gone for a nightcap before closing at 2am (1.30am Sunday to Wednesday). If all else fails, there’s Angel’s Share 2 right next door, which opened a few years ago. It’s similarly unmarked and also on my list of great East Village bars, although they don’t serve the Flirtibird, so it remains plan B for me.