"The South has always been better at cocktails than the North," says Shoolbred's Robert Morgan, who plans to channel New Orleans in his new bar-restaurant, Ninth Ward, as of next month. The East Village spot will feature regional beers like Abita, as well as traditional NOLA cocktails such as the Sazerac. Morgan and his three partners (including Shoolbred's William Ivey Long) road-tripped south to decorate the space. "We salvaged as much as we could" from New Orleans, Morgan says, including a stained-glass window that once graced a convent, an intricately carved wooden fireplace mantel, and many window shutters in various states of disrepair. The basement space has four wooden alcove-like booths and leads to a Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil–esque ivied brick courtyard with fountains and a brass shrouded woman.
"It used to be people would go out for dinner and then meet up afterward. In the recession, the dinner portion took a nosedive," says Morgan. Ninth Ward's menu, created by Brent Reidy and Jenny Rajotte of the Pork Belly Dining Society, will focus on smaller bites that pair well with booze. Likely offerings include red-beans-and-rice arancini; a vinegary, marinated-shrimp cocktail; catfish and chips; and "probably the best fried chicken anyone will be able to get below Harlem," Reidy claims. Reidy will also make infused liquors and says his star-anise–gin lemonade "goes perfectly with fried food."
Ninth Ward, 180 Second Ave., nr. 12th St., no phone yet