If you took a stroll on 2nd Avenue in the Upper East Side, the bright pink storefront decorated with a neon ice cream cone would naturally catch your eye. However, the UES on 1707 2nd Avenue isn’t your typical scoop shop: this ice cream parlor doubles as a speakeasy.
Hidden behind a door covered by 180 empty ice cream cartons is “Storage,” a secret bar inspired by ones found during the Prohibition era. The atmosphere of the shop quickly changes as you leave the cheerful scoop shop and enter the dimly lit and trendy Storage Room.
“I wanted to open a Speakeasy on the Upper East Side because we don’t have anything like that up here,” said Cortney Bond, the owner of the shop. “This was exactly what the Upper East Side needed — we needed a new, hip bar and we needed good ice cream.”
Her predictions weren’t wrong: in just two days after opening this past fall, the shop sold out of ice cream completely. Even with absolutely no marketing or press in the first couple months, the UES Scoop Shop quickly became a neighborhood hot spot. With fun and delicious ice cream flavors including banana brownie, salted caramel, and peanut butter mudslide, it’s not really a surprise that the shop took off quickly.
Staying true to the roots of a traditional speakeasy, the knowledge of what was hidden behind the ice cream carton door remained largely a secret. “I was inspired by the prohibition era when creating my shop, I wanted it to gain popularity through strictly word of mouth when we first opened,” said Bond. “When people would ask if we had a speakeasy, we would deny it. The only way into the speakeasy was when customers asked if they could see the Storage Room.”
In addition to the unique flavors at the scoop shop, the bar also offers unique cocktails with names inspired by the UES, like the “2nd Avenue Subway,” “1040 Fifth Avenue (Jackie O’s famous address),” “Meet Me at the Met,” and “the Devil Wears Prada.” Each drink is designed and decorated to emulate the name. Some of its offerings even come with an additional treat to go with the drink. For example, the “El Lado Este Superior” is made with stolen spiced rum, fresh lemongrass stems, Kaffir lime leaves, housemade Galangal honey, strained through heat activated cigar leaves and poured over a coconut oil & turmeric powder washed ice cube. The drink is served in a cigar box with a chocolate cigar.
Another popular cocktail offered includes “the Lenox,” which includes beef jerky washed redemption rye, roasted cocoa black dirt Applejack, mint jelly, choya, housemade brown mustard honey served with smoked jerky.
Then there’s the “Community Board 8,” which features pig’s nose peated scotch whiskey infused with pine resin tears, braulio amaro, smoked “pine-apple” juice, housemade juniper & rosemary honey, apple jalapeno jam, lemon, Q Ginger beer served with SoCo blood orange sorbet in a bamboo cone. And for those with a sweet tooth, the UES offers “UES is Happy To Serve You,” made with four roses bourbon, chocolate lab chocolate wine, luxardo maraschino liqueur, campari, orange bitters topped with a warm coconut crema and beet root powder.
Following the trend of other speakeasies around the city, the UES has a semi-strict dress code, banning athletic wear, hats and sneakers. This doesn’t deter the wide range of visitors it gets on a regular basis.
“On any given night, we have an older business man enjoying wine or a group of young college girls enjoying a girls night out,” said Bond. “Who doesn’t love cocktails and ice cream? We offer something fun to do for all ages.”
While the neighborhood still remains largely residential and is often dubbed “the suburbs of New York City,” small businesses located on the UES are currently trying to disprove the myth that there’s nothing fun to do uptown.
“So many people forget that the Upper East Side can be just as cool as downtown, small businesses up here are helping generate more business in the neighborhood,” said Bond. “I opened the shop because I wanted the UES to flourish and change the fabric of the community. I want the UES to be something really cool that everyone can enjoy.”