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Lounge Specializing in Organic Liquor to Open in Kips Bay

KIPS BAY — You won't find even a drop of Coca-Cola at a new lounge opening in Kips Bay this fall.

The Third Avenue bar and eatery, called Raw, will specialize in healthy and organic foods and drinks — which means the cocktails will feature liquor made from grain grown without pesticides, and the mixers will contain real sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup.

Owners David Jaffee and Ross Rachlin, former investment bankers who are making their first foray into nightlife, decided to open Raw after struggling to find a spot in the neighborhood that met their healthy standards.

"People aren’t really thinking about health benefits when they go out — it's more about having a good time," Jaffee said. "But if there was a healthy substitute product offered, then people would be more likely to choose the healthier option."

Raw, which will open in the 800-square-foot former Bar 29 space at 405 Third Ave. near East 29th Street, will still offer all the typical liquor brands such as Grey Goose and Patrón, but the liquors the owners plan to promote will be organic ones like Greenbar Craft Distillery and Prairie Organic Spirits, Jaffee said.

To earn the "organic" label, Prairie's liquor — which comes in flavors including cucumber vodka and gin — is distilled from grain grown without pesticides or herbicides, relying instead on Minnesota's bird and bat population to keep unwanted insects away from the crop, according to the company's website.

And rather than using Coca-Cola and other artificially sweetened drinks as mixers, Jaffee plans to offer juices, smoothies and carbonated drinks from the brand Hard Beverages, which offers club soda and cola flavors made with natural ingredients and sugar instead of corn syrup, he said.

“For a Jack and Coke, we’ll have natural alternatives to Coca-Cola, but if someone were to insist we use Coca-Cola, well, we wouldn’t carry it,” Jaffee said.

In addition to the drinks, Raw will offer plenty of food, including salads, sandwiches, wraps and panini made using only organic and locally sourced ingredients. Dishes will range from $8 to $10.

“It’s pretty much the kind of food that even if you ate a lot of it, it wouldn’t be unhealthy for you,” Jaffee said.

Community Board 6 voted to give advisory approval to the bar’s liquor license last week, and now Jaffee and Rachlin are wrapping up lease negotiations for the space. They hope to open in September or October.

The goal, Jaffee said, is to open a lounge where he and Rachlin would want to spend time.

“We both live pretty healthy lifestyles," Jaffee said. "We want to feel good eating the food we offer, and not have to go outside to find the food we’d eat ourselves.”