Originally from Dublin, owner James Morrissey wanted to change the stereotype of an Irish bar in New York City. Most people visit an Irish bar in Manhattan and they see shamrocks and leprechauns while downing a Guinness. James wanted to show New Yorkers that a real Irish bar may not be what you expect.
James also owns The Signature Group back in Ireland, one of the country's biggest nightlight events and marketing companies. So when he moved to New York, he wanted to bring some of that vibe with him. Along with partner Rob Ackroyd (most known as the guitarist for the musical group Florence & the Machine), they have created a great local bar in the Lower East Side. Downstairs also hosts a more clubby space with live DJ's and a favorite hang-out for industry folks like Niall Horan (from One Direction), Jeremy Piven, and LA Reid.
The bar takes its name from the long-running TV talk show (not the one with James Corden). The Late Late Show debuted in Ireland in 1962 and at the time was controversial for its modern outspoken ideas that challenged the traditionally conservative Roman Catholic society.
The seating area is designed to feel like an upscale Irish residence from the 1960's. Nooks and crannies reveal headboards, Virigin Mary statues, retro televisions, antique light fixtures and wallpaper. Tables are scattered around the room and there is a full bar both upstairs and downstairs.
The bar features over 50 Irish whiskeys, perfectly poured pints, and an impressive menu of craft cocktails. In addition to some surprising Guinness cocktails (our favorite is the prosecco and stout Black Velvet), the cocktail menu is overseen by Seth Allen and a group of experienced and innovative bartenders.
The menu changes seasonally but for now, don't miss the smoking Sage Advice (tamarind infused rum, lime, and a smoked sage), the Wild Toddy (a beefed-up play on a hot toddy), the Late Late Old Fashioned (with rhubarb bitters and a Guinness cherry reduction), and Sweater Weather (whiskey, ginger syrup, bourbon cherries, and cinnamon).
We visit The late Late on certain nights on our Craft Cocktail Tour and we always find a lively scene. On Monday nights, there is a live DJ radio broadcast, Wednesdays are open mic, and Fridays and Saturdays feature a dance party in the basement. Whatever we find, we know there will be great music, great local crowds, and some wonderful craft cocktails.
The trendy Lower East Side is not too far from the historic Irish neighborhood of the Five Points, which we visit on our Tenements Tales and Tastes tour. It's a great place to stop for a drink, some satisfying Irish bar snacks, and good conversation.
And on St. Patrick's Day, while lots of people are drinking green beer and causing a ruckus on the streets, The Late Late is a great cozy place to come for an authentic Irish experience sampling whiskeys and ssoaking up the local (and Irish) culture.
The Late Late Bar,
159 East Houston Street,
New York, New York 10002