- The Garret is a cocktail bar tucked away above the Five Guys burger restaurant in NYC’s West Village.
- While owned and operated separately, the only way to access the bar is through the fast-food restaurant.
- It’s a great spot for a date, a place to kill time before a nearby dinner reservation, or even for a business meeting.
- The Garret reopened on September 30 for walk-in and by-reservation indoor seating.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
While the bar and the restaurant are owned and operated separately, the two establishments run in tandem. There is no signage for the bar outside â€” just a neon “Soul” sign in the window â€” and the only way to access it is through the fast-food restaurant.
Guests are encouraged to grab a burger and fries on their way up to the cool and quirky speakeasy-esque lounge. After spending an evening at the cosy, West Village spot, we think it’s a great place for a date, a place to kill time before a nearby dinner reservation, or even for a business meeting.
Insider sat down with cofounders Adam Fulton and Gavin Moseley in January to figure out what The Garret is really about, and with their third partner Grant Wheeler to learn about everything behind the bar.
Wheeler also gave us his expert food and beverage pairings for a perfect Five Guys and The Garret snack.
(Insider visited The Garret West in January before it closed on March 15 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The bar reopened its doors with slight changes to the interior setup and new customer screening protocols on September 30. The Garret is now taking reservations and walk-in customers.)
At the corner of Bleecker Street and Barrow Street, perched atop a Five Guys Burgers and Fries, lies an under-the-radar bar dubbed The Garret.
If someone tells you they will meet you at The Garret West, they’re inviting you into this cosy, fun experience while also letting you know they’re aware of the coolest hidden hot spots in Manhattan.
It’s not as hard to find as you might expect a “speakeasy” to be, since the bar comes up on Google Maps, but Adam Fulton and Gavin Moseley, cofounders and visionaries of The Garret, told Insider that there’s only one way to enter: through the Five Guys burger restaurant downstairs.
Customers have to walk into the Five Guys, head straight to the back, and climb a set of stairs across from the grills.
Walking through a burger joint to get to a classy cocktail bar may seem strange, but it also feels like the epitome of Manhattan’s West Village vibe.
Plus, passing the counter and climbing the staircase made us feel like we were part of a secret club, which always adds a fun layer to a night out.
The space upstairs has a warm, welcoming, and unpretentious vibe.
There’s a beautiful bar, booth-style seating, and couches set up near a fireplace. Each couch can fit about three people comfortably.
Ownership has made changes to the bar’s indoor seating complying with safety guidelines set for NYC restaurants as of September 30.
For now, they’re making some aesthetic changes to the bar as well as implementing temperature checks, COVID-19 symptom screening, and requiring contact information from at least one member of each party for contact tracing purposes.
New plexiglass dividers have been placed between booths and the traditional bar seating has been transformed into party-facing high top tables rather than bar-facing stools.
After closing on March 15 when New York City bars and restaurants were ordered to shut their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Garret started selling batch cocktails to-go.
While Moseley confirmed to Insider that the cocktail retail service was only functioning during New York’s stay at home order, he said the team may revisit takeaway drinks once their dining is completely settled. Like many restaurants, The Garret bars are figuring out what works best as they go.
In addition to funky seating setups, there are also plenty of hidden features like a small, semi-private lounge area and a doorknob-covered restroom door.
The inside of the restroom door has 96 gold-coloured doorknobs on it, which makes for a kind of scary, kind of trippy escape experience, especially if you’ve had a cocktail or two already.
Fulton and Moseley laughed as they told us about how guests started taking the knobs off the door!
Just past the restroom is a sunken den-like seating area made to look like a cosy living room.
This little nook is now limited to seating just one party as a coronavirus safety measure, Moseley told Insider. He said it’s best for parties of six to eight people with a maximum party size depending on how many other patrons are in the bar at the time.
Moseley said that the bar is limiting total seating to 18 people with the host determining where to sit groups based on spacing and party size.
Moseley told Insider some visitors come to the Five Guys-connected bar and are disappointed by the absence of Garret-special burgers on the menu.
There’s an ongoing rumour that The Garret offers three specialty Five Guys burgers exclusive to the bar. Although that was an idea back in 2014 when the bar opened, logistics proved too much of an obstacle for the team to realise this ambitious dream.
The partners said they ran the idea by Five Guys corporate, but the company “didn’t believe we were serious” and shut it down as wheels were in motion.
“Maybe one day!” Moseley said. They joke around and fantasize about a day when they can install a dumbwaiter to seamlessly serve Five Guys to their customers for real.
Right now, it remains just a dream.
Until that happens, diners can grab their burger and fries on their way up.
Hungry guests can purchase food from the burger joint downstairs and bring their dinner up to the lounge to eat while they sip on a cocktail.
Specialty house cocktails are $US15 — The Beatles at Shea being the one exception at $US16 — and classic cocktails are $US14.
The bar also has a large selection of beers, which range in price from $US7 to $US9 for cans or bottles, and $US8 to $US11 for draft pints.
When we visited in January, they had around a dozen beers on tap – most of which are domestic craft beers – and more in cans and bottles.
You may want to spend time flavour-pairing if you’re planning to eat and drink in one visit.
Grant Wheeler – the Den Hospitality partner leading its beverage department – gave us his take on the perfect Five Guys food and Garret cocktail pairings.
He said the shiso in The Norse Whisperer cocktail would complement plain fries.
“The combination of the salt of the fries and the shiso in the drink could make for a nice, subtle flavour experience,” he said.
The Norse Whisperer features aquavit, a Scandinavian spirit. Wheeler said the flavour is subtle like a “whisper” and the components made him want to play on the movie title “The Horse Whisperer” for the drink’s name.
His pick for a fully-loaded hot dog is a gin martini.
“There’s something about the botanicals and celery salty, pickle-y vibe [of the martini] with that salty, nitrite-y, cured meat quality of a hot dog and fermented toppings” that would be great, he explained.
Wheeler said that if you’re going with a burger, a beer or bourbon on the rocks is the way to go. Or, he said, “Just drink water – you’re gonna be thirsty.”
We’d ordered a pickle-topped cheeseburger and decided to taste three of the bar’s signature cocktails. The First Lady – a drink made with gin, matcha powder, egg white, and lemon – was first.
The flavours of The First Lady drink and our acidic, pickle-y cheeseburger were all over the place.
After tasting the green cocktail, we were definitely able to identify the gin, but not in an overpowering way. The egg white gave the cocktail this frothy, smooth, milkshake-like consistency while the matcha gave it that distinctive bright green colour.
It’s also a play on the classic cocktail, The White Lady, Wheeler said, which is made with gin, Cointreau, and lemon juice.
It’s named for “the first lady of the bar”: Fulton’s wife, Cindy Ramirez. The matcha-based flavour profile didn’t pair well with our cheeseburger, but I would try it again with a very plain burger for a meat-and-milkshake vibe.
Fulton and Moseley told us that, in their opinion, the absolute best Five Guys-Garret pairing is an order of Cajun fries and the bar’s signature Beatles at Shea cocktail.
After giving it a try, we agree that it tastes great. The smokiness of the cocktail cuts the lip-tingling spice of the fries in a comforting way – it minimizes the heat without compromising the flavour.
The story of this bourbon-based drink dates back to 1965 when The Beatles performed at New York’s Shea Stadium. Fulton and Moseley were told that the band hosted an after-party in the attic, which was a two-story Indian restaurant and lounge.
Legend has it that a neighbour was there that night and got a photo of The Beatles in the space. But, Fulton said, before anyone could get ahold of the photo, “she disappeared.”
Fulton and Moseley tried to corroborate her story, asking anyone they could think of if they had seen the photo. They couldn’t find it, so they named a drink after the story as a tribute to this piece of unconfirmed history.
All of their other house cocktails have interesting stories behind them, too.
We also tried The Full Brazilian: a cinnamon-like concoction featuring rye and Avuá Amburana Cachaça served without ice or garnish.
Wheeler found the name fitting as “there’s a certain nakedness to the drink.”
The flavour profile here was really powerful and beautiful. It had a strong aroma of spices that hit us as soon as we took a sip, but it was also really smooth and easy to drink as long as you’re not afraid of a little flavour.
Wheeler said Avuá Amburana Cachaça, the base for this drink, is one of his favourite spirits.
“It’s a Brazilian-style rum made from whole sugarcane,” which he said is typically applied to Tiki-style drinks. Wheeler found a new application for the spirit in this cocktail.
“I wanted to do something stirred and boozy,” he said, “simply because we didn’t have anything stirred and boozy on the menu.” He described it as a riff on the classic cocktail Vieux Carré (which features rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters) and is served poured into a chilled coupe glass.
There are plenty of cocktails to choose from.
The Spikey Westchester – Wheeler’s fourth iteration of a staple, spicy tequila drink – is named after the suburban county just north of New York City.
“It’s an admittedly basic, admittedly suburban concept for a drink,” Wheeler said, “but done with a bit more intention and thoughtfulness.”
Refinery 63 is a non-smokey Mezcal drink with Singani 63, a clear Bolivian spirit distilled from grapes. The components “made me think of blog culture, and can’t-get-enough culture,” he said. “The name is a riff on Refinery29.”
Wheeler said the drink embodies both a moment of hype around Mezcal and the lasting sleekness of Steven Soderbergh – the celebrity director and screenwriter who produces Singani 63.
The cocktail names and stories may seem intense, but the bar’s atmosphere feels cool and collected.
The Garret isn’t a bar that shuts anyone out or demands a certain level of perceived sophistication from its guests, the owners told Insider.
“We’re not a pinkies-in-the-air kind of place,” Fulton said.
While they don’t take themselves too seriously, they’re definitely serious about their bar. They have even got tattoos to prove it.
The owners designed a neon sign for The Garret East – a sister location of this second-floor escape – that says: No bad days.
Fulton has it tattooed on his chest while Moseley has it on his fingers.
Moseley showed us a tattoo and a ring that both pay homage to the story of the bar.
Fulton and Moseley wanted The Garret to be “anyone’s bar,” so they created a suit-wearing raccoon named Rocco and made him the “owner.”
Rocco is a character that represents “someone who is cooler than us,” they said.
The Garret West represents Rocco’s home. Fulton and Moseley said they always wanted the bar to feel like a den, so much so that they had Den picked out as the name.
They told Insider that when it came to naming their first bar, they felt “Den” no longer worked since it’s on the second floor of a building.
Instead, they went with the word “garret” — a word that refers to the very top of a house, the space just beneath the roof.
The Garret is on the top floor of the two-story building, and even though it’s not the ground-floor den they envisioned, it still feels like the home of your most interesting, mysterious, friend.
There are seemingly random photographs all over the walls and a smattering of beautiful paintings throughout, which each represent a well-travelled, artistic Rocco.
The team installed the fireplace pictured above – it’s non-working.
There are two other Garret locations that each represent another part of Rocco’s fabulous life. A tropical hideaway is tucked away in Nolita, while a party pad sits in the East Village.
They all have some quirky random elements inside like the doorknob-covered restroom door at The Garret West.
The Garret West is a great spot for a date, a place to kill time before a nearby dinner reservation, or even for a business meeting.
During our visit, we saw an early customer base of laptop-users relaxing on the couches. Couples on dates and groups of friends arrived as the night wore on.
The Garret offers a unique experience that we have yet to find at another bar in the city.
The juxtaposition of the classic grease-soaked Five Guys bag and the leaf-garnished cocktails perfectly describes the feeling we had at The Garret: It’s very chic and sophisticated while keeping its guests comfortably themselves.
While it’s not technically a Prohibition-era speakeasy since you can see the bar from the outside, there’s still an element of mystery to the place.
There’s no signage for The Garret. Instead, there’s just this glowing, pink “Soul” sign in the window.
For the uninitiated, the sign doesn’t necessarily indicate a bar – it looks like it could just be decoration for someone’s apartment.
The neon “Soul” sign acts as a beacon shining up 7th Avenue, letting everyone know they’re open and all are welcome to come on in.
The Garret West is currently taking walk-ins and reservations, which can be made on its website.
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