The city is full of places to get very specific types of consumable items. If you’re looking for bone broth you can sip like a latte, there’s a kiosk for that. Mango fried rice made with Arizona Iced Tea? You can find it at Mission Chinese in Bushwick. But if you’ve wanted to imbibe high-end whiskey cocktails in a Wild West setting that also serves up an entirely vegan BBQ menu, you were out of luck up until last week, when Ravi DeRossi’s new bar Honeybee’s opened in the East Village.
Honeybee’s opened last Wednesday on Avenue A and East Sixth Street, in the space formerly occupied by Cienfuegos, a Cuban bar and restaurant run by the same team that opened in 2010 and closed last New Year’s Eve.
This isn’t DeRossi’s first plant-based rodeo by any means, especially not in this neighborhood; the busy restauranteur also operates nearby vegan spots Avant Garden (candlelit fare and natural wines), Ladybird (plant-based tapas), and Mother of Pearl (tiki drinks and Polynesian bites). At Honeybee’s, he’s teamed up with chef Amira Gharib, who previously worked at Boulud Sud, a Mediterranean spot near Lincoln Center.
Looking at the culinary offerings, you’d be forgiven if your first impression was a meaty one. Burnt ends, chorizo queso, and chicken and waffles grace the menu, but they’re crafted from plants, a mix of vegetables and proteins like seitan and soy slow-cooked for hours just as their carnivorous counterparts would be. And though the desserts—devil’s food and red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting and an apple pie sundae—appear dripping with dairy, they too are all plant-based.
Of course, it’s not just about the food—DeRossi is also behind award-winning cocktail bar Death + Co., so the drinks are also predictably top-notch. The beverage program is helmed by Sother Teague (of Amor y Amargo, a bitters-centric cocktail bar also by DeRossi) and features a vast array of ryes, bourbons, and other such whiskeys, totaling about 70 different kinds.
Since spirits are the star here, some of the creations are more minimal, like a mix of Jim Beam and chilled seltzer made using a Japanese highball machine. Traditionalists can expect classic fare in the form of mint juleps, Manhattans, and the like, while those looking for something more adventurous can spring for a creation made from salt, peanut bitters and syrup, and rye. If you’re not a whiskey person, tequila and mezcal also awaits, and there are even two non-alcoholic cocktails: a peanut iced tea lemonade and a fruity ginger soda with smoky burnt rosemary.
And if your Honeybee’s experience puts you in the mood for more DeRossi creations (he also designed the Honeybee’s interior, which calls into question how much sleeping the man does), you won’t have to look far. In fact, his tiki bar Mother of Pearl is just one floor below.
Honeybee’s is located at 95 Avenue A and is open Monday through Sunday from 5 pm to 2 am.