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Pop-Up Bar Serving Mezcal and Tamales Opens on Upper East Side

  Bar Ilegal will only be open until Jan. 24, when it will be replaced by a new eatery called Seamstress.
Bar Ilegal
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UPPER EAST SIDE — The owners of a soon-to-open New England-style eatery launched a pop-up bar on East 75th Street this week, offering spicy mezcal infusions, homemade tamales and live music for 12 nights only.

Bar Ilegal, a small space with 20 seats at 339 E. 75th St. near First Avenue, is open every night until Jan. 24 and carries only one type of liquor: mezcal.

“Mezcal is a category of booze that’s been around for years, but most people haven’t experienced it," said co-owner Steve Laycock, 29, who also owns Gilroy, a lounge on 81st Street. 

“The Upper East Side is probably the last place you’d find a liquor-focused bar, but we’re willing to do one and see how it goes.”

The bar worked with Mexico's Ilegal Mezcal to provide the liquor, which ranges in price from $6 to $12 per shot and is infused with wild turmeric, ginger and chili.

The menu also includes $4 cans of Modelo, which come garnished with lime and Ilegal Mezcal’s green hot sauce.

Homemade tamales in veggie, pork and red chili, and chicken and green chili varieties are available for $4.

The bar will have live music including a performance by City of the Sun on Friday at 10 p.m., Laycock said.

Once the bar closes, the owners will be gearing up to open a new bar and restaurant in its place, called Seamstress. The permanent eatery, which is expected to open in the first week of February, will serve New England-style seafood and cocktails, Laycock said.

“We want to bring cool things to the neighborhood,” said Laycock, who lives on the Upper East Side. “We’re trying to do a food-focused restaurant after, but this is an opportunity to have no identity and do something special with a short period of time."

Bar Ilegal is open 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily until Jan. 24.