One of the city's most popular secret bars, Angel's Share, has been harboring a secret of its own for the last year — another speakeasy down the street with a menu that has more classic cocktails. Angel's Share has been tucked away in restaurant Village Yokocho at 8 Stuyvesant St. for nearly 22 years. With a creative cocktail program and a romantic room with a view of Stuyvesant Triangle, it's become known as one of the best places to drink downtown. Waits sometimes go up to an hour on weekends. Long lines belie the secrecy. So the owners decided to open another secret bar.
Angel's Share's other bar — which has also been called an annex — has so far had the benefit of shorter lines. Mostly people in the hospitality industry, regulars from the original Angel's Share, and friends of friends have flocked to the annex, which is upstairs from Sharaku at 14 Stuyvesant St. The bar offers a view of the East Village and has a Victorian feel to the look, similar to the original Angel's Share. But it's more low-key, with a slightly more mature crowd, a slower pace, and a menu with more classic cocktails, according to bartenders Gn Chan and Ben Rojo. "The atmosphere is a little bit more calm," Chan says. And like any good secret bar, its hours are limited. It's only officially open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from 6:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., though it will stay open later if people linger. "When you go in, you're transported to a different kind of Angel's Share," says owner Erina Yoshida.
Yoshida's family, which also owns Kyo Ya and Autre Kyo Ya, had been using the space for private events and banquets. In the last few years, the original Angel's Share had been getting more busy and seemed to need more room. Plus, only parties of four can enter Angel's Share, whereas the new speakeasy allows larger groups. "It seemed intuitive to use that space in a way that we could offer what we offer over here over there," Rojo says. "More people can come and see what it is we do."
Like the original Angel's Share, the one in Sharaku focuses on upscale cocktails. A menu based on classic cocktails allows bartenders to highlight classic Japanese cocktail making techniques more, Rojo and Chan explain. For the technique, Chan recently won the Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition on the east coast for a pina colada-like drink called Venceremos, which has coconut, pineapple, cucumber, lime, and sesame oil. It's offered at both locations for a limited time. "It’s our way of showing off," Rojo says of the classic menu. The bar also offers a collection of Japanese whiskeys, including special and rare options, Yoshida says.
But not everyone who goes into the bar realizes it's new, or different from the original. A few visitors on a Saturday night didn't know that there was another Angel's Share at all, and because the menus have the Angel's Share "AS" logo, some people confuse the two locations. Chan says he's seen cases where two people on a date will each go to a different Angel's Share. "They never meet each other," he says. Still, they're not planning to give the location above Sharaku a different name, Yoshida says. All the business has been word of mouth, and they hope any differentiation will happen that way, too. "We're kind of seeing how people name this place," she says.