In the taxonomy of bars, the main species are four: dive bars, college bars, pubs and haute cocktail dens. A fifth that most forget exist, due to its rarity, is the type of bar that exists for true-blue adults. These watering holes are tasteful and unpretentious, and warm but not rowdy. They could give a damn about fashion or currency having figured out what’s worth sticking to out of the infinite and dizzying array of what could be poured. They are a crisp white shirt and blue jeans in bar form.
Clean Plate is such a place. Co-owned by Susan Alper and Lauren Speisman, the restaurant has a straightforward, simple bar program that even Ernest Hemingway wouldn’t take a red pen to. “We believe in a relaxation of rules,” Lauren tells me, explaining that she bucks the notion of a fussy drink list after decades in the business. “You should be able to have what you want. In fact, you’ve probably already decided what you want to drink when you walk into a place.”
Lauren shared their Ginger Cosmo as a winter favorite that couldn’t be easier to replicate. When made well, it’s really quite clean and bordering on elegant. As Lauren says, “the cosmo didn’t die with Sex and the City.” They’re still serving it more than ten years after Chef Susan created it, and they don’t plan on stopping.
345 Water Street