Milady’s, One of SoHo’s Last Dive Bars, Is Reborn With Craft Cocktails

Julie Reiner, who has long been a force in the New York cocktail world, will once again be mixing manhattans in Manhattan.

She was one of the partners behind the now-closed Flatiron Lounge and Pegu Club, two of the most important bars in the early days of the craft cocktail movement in New York, and has since focused on her Brooklyn bars, Clover Club and Leyenda.

This September, Ms. Reiner will return to her old territory to open Milady’s at the corner of Prince and Thompson Streets in SoHo.

It’s a second coming of sorts for Milady’s, a down-to-earth bar that operated in this space with little fanfare for decades and closed in 2014. It was cherished as one of the last old-school, affordable watering holes left in the neighborhood. (Bruce Springsteen was even known to drop in.)

“I wasn’t looking to open another bar, but this opportunity kind of fell in my lap,” said Ms. Reiner, whose partners at Milady’s include Christine Williams and Susan Fedroff, both part of the Clover Club and Leyenda teams. “I thought, how do we not reopen Milady’s? We are the Miladies!”

The chef, Sam Sherman of Clover Club, is also a partner here, and the beverage director is Natasha Mesa, who formerly worked in Portland, Ore., at Raven & Rose and Deadshot.

The old Milady’s was known for its cheap draft beer, pool table and diverse clientele. Ms. Reiner is striving for the same approachable atmosphere, emphasizing fun and levity for this particular pandemic moment.

Ms. Reiner noted the original bar’s interior is gone. “There was nothing to save,” she said. “This is a 2.0. So how do we pay homage to what this place was, in 2022 with 2022 SoHo rent?”

Drinks will include mini-martinis and daiquiris (called snaquiris), fancy Jell-O shots (like the Blue Hawaiian, made of rum, blue Curaçao, lemon and pineapple juice and coconut liqueur) and two different bourbon highballs drawn from a custom highball machine.

The Big Apple Martini is a reference to Ms. Reiner’s early days at the bar and restaurant C3, off Washington Square Park, where she impressed critics with her fresh-fruit infusions. The menu also includes the Little Italy cocktail (like a manhattan, but with Cynar added), a staple at the Pegu Club.

Food will include bar favorites like potato skins and chicken fingers, as well as oysters and lobster tails.

Former patrons have asked whether the pool table would return: It won’t. (The loss of seating would be financially unfeasible.) But it will be honored with a pool-themed art installation in the back of the bar.

It has been a while since Ms. Reiner pulled regular shifts at her bars, but that will change at Milady’s. One end of the bar will be a showcase spot, given over to guest bartenders who will mix special drinks in addition to the normal bar service. That will get Ms. Reiner get back into the action.

“I can’t even bartend at Clover Club because it’s too busy,” she said.

160 Prince Street, 646-484-6402.

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