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Smoking Encouraged at New 'Mad Men'-Style Speakeasy on Upper East Side

By Shaye Weaver | April 5, 2017 5:32pm
 Sugar East, styled after the mid-century's glamor lounges, serves a slew of cocktails and entrees.
Sugar East
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UPPER EAST SIDE — A mid-century-style speakeasy channeling scenes from "Mad Men" and Havana's nightlife opened on First Avenue — adding to the city's handful of lounges that still allow smoking indoors.

Sugar East, at 1125 First Ave. between 61st and 62nd streets, has the mahogany, leather, brass, bronze and booze to transport patrons back to a time when men and women could grab a late-night cocktail and a smoke.

"We created a space with a mid-century modern feel, hearkening back to the decadent Havana high life where one might feel like a cigarette after a few cocktails," said Abraham Merchant, the owner of Merchants Hospitality, which launched the lounge.

(Credit: Ian Baguskas)

The lounge opened on March 31 with a grandfathered tobacco license from the previous establishment, Merchants NY Cigar Bar, according to Merchants Hospitality spokesman Stefan Ching.

Merchant added that the space isn't a destination for smoking but that it's "simply an option."

(Credit: Ian Baguskas) 

Other spots around the city that allow smoking include Lexington Bar and Books on the Upper East Side, Beekman Beer Garden Beach Club on the South Street Seaport, Bookmarks Lounge in Midtown and Circa Tabac in SoHo.

Sugar East, which puts more of a focus on cigarettes than cigars, has a menu of cocktails crafted with smoke, ginger, pistachio and charred lemon flavors, Ching said.

(Credit: Ian Baguskas)

A menu of small plates — like lobster arepas, sugarcane-tamarind-glazed wings, and Cuban potato fritters stuffed with house-smoked brisket and cheese — come courtesy of French chef Stephen Lyle.

Sugar East is open Sunday to Thursday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., and Friday and Saturday until 4 a.m.