It might seem odd for a cocktail bar to do last call at 7 p.m. But late-night drinking isn’t what J & Tony’s Discount Cured Meats and Negroni Warehouse is about. The new East Village spot with the long name gets its inspiration from aperitivo, Italy’s version of afternoon tea, except with cocktails and salty snacks.
J and Tony are Jason McLeod and Anthony Schmidt, culinary director and beverage director, respectively, for CH Projects, the company behind some of San Diego’s more innovative concept restaurants, (Underbelly, Born & Raised, Soda & Swine). The concept behind J & Tony’s might seem more European sophisticate than happy hour hangout, but Schmidt says the goal was to create a relaxed environment.
"We’re just trying to have fun," he says. "It’s not that serious—it’s Negronis and prosciutto."
Guests are welcomed with a small bowl of aged parmesan, scooped from a giant cheese wheel. The menu includes meat and cheese plates, Italian salads and sandwiches, and sides of olives, roasted almond, and various spreads with bread—all of which pair perfectly with bittersweet Italian cocktails.
The cocktail menu features three Negroni variations—and if you’re unfamiliar with the all-booze Italian classic, ask your bartender to make it a spritz to help you ease into it. Or, keep it simple with a Garibaldi (whipped OJ and Campari), Giovanna (whipped grapefruit juice and Cynar), Americano (Campari, sweet vermouth, and seltzer) or a Sbagliato (Campari, sweet vermouth, and prosecco).
Modern classics include the Bitter Giuseppe (Cynar, sweet vermouth, lemon, and a pinch of salt) and Rome With a View (Campari, dry vermouth, lime, and seltzer). I love a good white Negroni, and J and Tony’s Negroni Bianco—made with Ford’s gin, Contratto Vermouth Bianco, Saler’s Gentiane liqueur, and Vicario Dragoncello—nails it.
Complementing everything is the music, courtesy of a McIntosh turntable that’ll have audiophiles drooling. The volume’s kept low so it doesn’t stifle conversation, but not too low, and the music selection—curated by Schmidt—includes nothing you won’t like.
631 Ninth Avenue
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