NYC Gets Juiced Over Cocktail Bodega [Gallery]

By Leah Faye Cooper

There are only but so many concepts a bar can assume without being cliché or overly complicated. With Cocktail Bodega, owner Matt Levine has evaded both.

“Everybody serves alcohol,” says manger James Woods “but we do it with an interesting twist.” He could make that many twists — twists of lemon, lime, orange, mango and kiwi — as Cocktail Bodega is a juice bar gone nightlife, serving fresh squeezed juices and smoothies infused with alcohol. On a recent visit to the casual LES hangout — which isn’t too far from Levine’s Sons of Essex — the combination appeared to be winning.

Just past the suited men at the door, we found patrons taking Malibu Vita Melon shots (Malibu and watermelon juice blended with multivitamins) and sipping glasses of Energy Memory Punch (rum, mango nectar, orange juice, pineapple juice and mint leaves with energy and memory boosting vitamins). Guests kicked back at picnic tables in the window-walled space, enjoying bites of jerk chicken satay and Cuban sandwich quesadillas. Downstairs, at the bar dubbed Cocktail Bodega Underground, the scene was decidedly more late-night. There, bartenders poured traditional cocktails as the crowed danced in the dim, graffiti-laden room.

“The idea is that if you want to dance and hear great music and have a club-like atmosphere, you can go downstairs,” says Woods. “And if you want to take a breather you can come upstairs.” Woods, who ran the Hotel on Rivington for five years and helped open Nobu in South Hampton, added that unlike any other place in the city, that breather can include a banana smoothie made with Jameson and vitamin C, or a Bodega Cleanse, complete with aloe, flaxseed, kale and pear vodka. “It’s a lot of fun,” he says. We concur.

Images Courtesy of Cocktail Bodega and Semhar Woldeyesus