A First Look at Ward III, Serving Bespoke Cocktails in Tribeca

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Photo: Melissa Hom

We infiltrated a friends-and-family preview of Ward III last night, the solo debut from a trio of longtime Tribeca bartenders (Abdul Tabini shook martinis at Odeon for fourteen years and Michael Neff helped to open Macao Trading Co. and also served time at Grace along with third partner Kenneth McCoy). Tomorrow, when it opens, we’ll show you the food menu we snagged (the chef is Neff’s wife, Seattle transplant Stephan Adams, and she plans to serve till 4 a.m.), but for now, have a look inside. As you can see, three old Singer stand-up sewing machines serve the purpose of a back bar. Other than that, there aren’t many flourishes — just a front lounge (containing those Wakiya couches we mentioned earlier!), a 25-foot bar, and a few dozen seats in the airy back of the room, where we spotted a backgammon board. Over the squall of Guns N' Roses, Michael Neff told us he’s determined to “re-democratize the cocktail” via a “bespoke cocktail” program that allows you to tell a bartender your favorite ingredients and get a classic drink (or something a little more creative) in return (in our case, a tequila drink made with crushed peppercorns and lemon basil that tasted both fruity and spicy). And there will be a system of remembering regulars’ favorites. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned till now: a list of Milk & Honey–style house rules. We’ll reveal those, along with the cocktail list, tomorrow.

Ward III, 111 Reade St., nr. W. Broadway; 212-240-9194

Related: What to Eat (and How to Act!) at Ward III