Zagat: "Dead Rabbit" Pays Homage To 19th-Century NYC
This week's Zagat report heads to the southern tip of Manhattan to visit a new spot called "The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog" that plays homage to old New York. Zagat Editor James Mulcahy filed the following report for NY1.
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"The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog" takes it's inspiration from the mid-1800s, when the Financial District was full of taverns that catered to the influx of immigrants.
"The immigrants were coming through the South Street Seaport, which was called the port of New York back then," said co-owner Sean Muldoon. "We also knew that between Bowling Green and City Hall on Broadway, just here, we knew there was a serious bartending movement. We came across this building, [built in] 1828, and we thought this building was actually here when the story we were trying to tell occurred, so we thought it all made perfect sense."
On the ground floor of the bi-level space, there's a casual pub complete with sawdust on the floor. In addition to oysters, burgers and other fare, the venue provides takeaway items and an interesting historical link, with a small grocery area in the back.
"There's a famous painting called The Five Points," said Muldoon. "And when I looked at the painting, all I could see was the word 'grocery, grocery, grocery.' All the bars that the gang members drank in were hidden bars, that were hidden behind grocery stores. Those bars were called grog shops. We have a grocery store downstairs to live up to it where people can buy British and Irish foods. They can also buy some Mediterranean foods. The idea is, they can have it at the bar in a formal setting, or they can take it home with them."
Upstairs, you'll find one of the city's most extensive lists of cocktails. Many of the beverages utilize obscure recipes from 19th-century bartending manuals.
"It took about a year and a half worth of research, with 50 or 60 different books," said head bartender and co-owner Jack McGarry. "We have 12 different categories and about six drinks per category, and we have it all broken up. It's basically a celebration of the area, and also a celebration of that era."
Drinks like flips, possets, and daisies served in teacups are not widely available today, but here, you'll get an authentic taste of what was enjoyed nearly a century and a half ago.
"During the middle of the 19th Century, there were all of these other typologies of drinks starting to come through," McGarry says. "So in order to really kind of show people how that happened, I had to have another big menu."