SMITH AND MILLS
Till now, late night in lower Tribeca meant two things: barren streets and even more barren bars. Lucky for you and your midnight single malt habit, help is here in the form of proletariat pub Smith and Mills.
The passion project of Employees Only’s Matt Abramcyk and Akiva Elstein, Smith and Mills is a tiny (think: walk-in closet), detail-heavy watering hole designed by John McCormick (Moto) to feel like the sort of place where a 1920s Eastern European factory worker could blow off some steam after a hard day hammering steel.
So tiny that you might just miss it, this new Tribeca spot is marked by a single antique bulb with the street number 71 painted in bright red. It’s a hint of what’s inside – what this bar lacks in space it more than makes up for in detail. Cozy wrap-around banquettes are surrounded by turn of the century architectural drawings and fixtures, including decades-old hardhats.
Inside the non-marked spot, you’ll find a diminutive den of working-class touches: male staffers in basic blue workman’s jackets, ladies in factory dresses (so unsexy they’re sexy) and shelves lined with antique dishes, cans and mason jars. Meanwhile, low-lit Edison bulbs create a moody, amber vibe you can soak up from one of the faded lime banquettes as you sip vintage cocktails (Old Fashioneds, Sazeracs, Negronis). In the bathroom – a onetime elevator shaft – you’ll use a train car sink that empties manually (it’ll be just like that summer you spent in Dresden).
A former horse stable redone by Parts & Labor, the team that that did Brooklyn gem Moto and also had a hand in Freemans. Ship plans from 1903 grace the walls, the bathroom is an old elevator pulled piece-by-piece from a building on Broadway, the mirrors behind the bar were made from giant drain-pipe molds, and the custom lighting was inspired by Peter Behrens’s turn-of-the-century work.
Elstein assures us there won’t be any door scene, but since the 450-square-foot space is equipped with just two canvas banquettes, eight stools at the zinc bar, and very little standing room, it’s going to be tough to squeeze in – especially when De Niro’s hotel opens up directly across the street.
Juxtaposing the place’s blue-collar Euro motif, you’ll probably be pressed up to your neighbor to the sound of Billie Holiday and Django Reinhardt, and dine till 3 a.m. on charcuterie, oysters on the half shell and American caviar.
Food, served on antique flatware, will be prepared behind the bar by Employees Only sous-chef and Dinner Club hostess Julia Jaksic, who modeled the menu after old factory-worker lunch carts. The drinks will be of the “stirred, not shaken” variety, says Jaksic, so stick to classics like the Sazerac.
But it’s the bathroom that’s the signature piece: built into the building’s original freight elevator car. The owners of Smith & Mills salvaged the car and decorated every inch – from the original door on sliding hinges, to wrought iron work, and even added an antique, foldable train car sink.”