While the New York Times alleges that southern juke joints are a dying breed, a new East Village joint hopes to keep the tradition alive – north of the Mason-Dixon line. Juke Bar, which opened on Second Avenue in October, features DJs spinning jazz, blues and R&B, plus Southern-inspired small plates. Co-owner Daniel Glover, whose father hails from South Carolina, aimed to fashion the place after Southern juke joints, where black patrons ate, drank and danced when banned from white-only establishments. While indicators of the racism of the time, Glover hopes to celebrate the positive side of juke joints, as lively gathering places to enjoy good music and eats.
“They were these dark places, but with a lot of life,” he says. And with DJs featuring different genres each night, the place definitely keeps the convivial atmosphere alive, although a generous happy hour doesn’t hurt. Every night until 9 p.m, all beers will only cost you five bucks, and the wine, well, and specialty cocktails (designed by Acme’s Asa Scott) are all half-priced. Order the refreshing World Famous Miss Sophia, which pairs vodka with fresh lemon, strawberry, and lime, or keep the Southern vibe going with the Juke Bar Maid—Old Grand Dad bourbon, mint, fresh lime, and a splash of ginger beer.
Pair the drinks with the Southern-inspired menu, whose ten items where crafted by Miguel McDaniel of Calexico. It’s hard to go wrong with choices such as mac ‘n’ cheese (throw in crawfish tails for an extra $2) or the pulled pork sandwich—slow cooked pork shoulder marinated in tangy BBQ sauce, served on a brioche bun with chips.
While the focus is on sharing memories and good times, Juke Bar also puts an emphasis on giving back, holding fundraisers after typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines and participating in the NYC Coat Drive. Drinking for a good cause? Now there’s a hangover we can support.