"Back in my day, our pastrami arrived between two slices of bread, served on a plate."
"What the hell is pumpernickel dust?"
"Oh, I'd give that mulled Manischewitz-gin drink a try. On a nice winter's day? Oh, sure."
Such are the things your mother might say (read: things my mother did say) when you tell her about the handsome new cocktail bar above 2nd Ave Deli. It's called 2nd Floor, and it's opening tonight above the Upper East Side outpost of the New York staple.
The nephews of the original founder had been longing to do something with the space for quite some time—and at last, a trendy lounge with interesting drinks and upscale takes on the downstairs menu's classics has come to fruition. Enter around the corner (you'll spot the red and blue neon sign) and head up to a space that's all rust-colored leather banquettes, vintage furniture and pressed-tin ceilings. It feels like a spot from another era, which is charming, and also makes good sense. Have a look around.
Now, go ahead and post up at the brass bar, if you're here for drinks, or slide into a booth, if you're here to nosh as well. While you consider your cocktail options—a couple of note being the Man-O-Manischewitz (gin, spiced mulled Manischewitz, lemon, cinnamon) and the Upper Eastsider (gin or vodka, celery soda, ginger, lime, mint)—your waiter will present you with a wooden platter of matzo-babka bites, which you'll find are very, very good.
From there: whipped deviled eggs adorned with crispy pastrami, birch-smoked tongue sliders, gefilte croquettes... everything's kosher, just like downstairs.
And depending on how you like your bougie herring, it can arrive on tiny pieces of fingerling potato served with horseradish cream and ponzu cucumber snow that closely resembles sushi, or as part of an attractive tower piled atop diced potatoes, glazed beets, salmon roe and pumpernickel dust.
It's okay if you don't yet know how you like your bougie herring.