Proof that we’re living in a golden age of third wave frozen cocktails sits in the middle of New York City’s Kips Bay Neighborhood. The area, which is more known for the Midtown Uniform than for quality cocktail bars, is where you’ll find Stay Gold, a new bar by the team behind Greenwich Village stalwart The Up & Up. A whirring slushie machine in the corner of the bar slowly churns, promising sweet relief from the heat waves that bake trash into the city’s sidewalk. Out of that machine comes frosty glasses of Stay Cold.
Stay Cold is made with Jim Beam Black Bourbon, ginger, lemon and IPA. It’s served in an Irish Coffee mug with two straws—both made of literal, natural straw, not paper or plastic—and the drink is a golden hue that screams, “Stay gold, Ponyboy.” Whiffs of freshly candied ginger come off the top of the glass, and the taste is more of the same in the best way possible. Imagine a Whiskey Ginger, but instead of deep and dominating whiskey notes, bright lemon and ginger spice take the lead while Jim hangs out and serves as the drink’s backbone.
Anyone familiar with The Up & Up will find hints of familiarity at Stay Gold, which opened on July 5. Oversized checkerboard squares on the floor and Morris & Co. wallpaper give a throwback mid-century vibe. The front room is centered by a refurbished and gilded black bar that’s been in drinks establishments around the city since the early 1900s. Unlike The Up & Up, though, Stay Gold is small and full of natural light. A backyard stretches out past the two front rooms and brings the total capacity up to 150. The menu is also more relaxed. While I drank a strong bottled cocktail called Angel Falls (Fords Gin, fino sherry, vermouth blanc and orange bitters) and a Stay Cold, co-owner Chaim Dauermann told me that the goal here “was to make quality cocktails that are no more complicated to make at the bar than a Vodka Soda.” A tall order that he and head bartender Kacie Lambert, who helped design the opening menu, fulfills—especially in the case of the Stay Cold, which is based on co-owner Matt Piacentini’s original Stay Gold drink from The Up & Up.
Tying a bar’s namesake drink to a frozen cocktail is somewhat risky. Frozen cocktails are like indie movies: When they’re bad, sticking with it to the end is the last thing you want to do. When they’re good, you’ve found a place of pure, unadulterated joy. Luckily for Stay Gold, Stay Cold is like the Pulp Fiction of frozen cocktails.