Toast to the past

Dishes, drinks and décor link Wooly Public to its historic NYC address

We’ve come such a long way since surreptitious speakeasies were the requisite for New York City imbibing that they’re now an inspiration. At the base of the historic Woolworth Building — now known as the Woolworth Tower Residences — the third establishment in a trio of Wooly-named venues recently threw open its doors and revealed itself in all its throwback glory.

The Wooly Public joins the Wooly, a private events venue, and the Wooly Daily, a coffee shop, all owned and operated by David Tobias and Eric Adolfsen.

Much of the inspiration for the space came from the building itself. “We’ve woven references to the landmarked lobby by adding neo-Gothic flourishes to the bar and dining rooms, using vintage 1920s faux-marble wallpaper and commissioning a fantastic artist to paint our own twist on the lobby’s murals,” said Adolfsen.

The Wooly Public’s bar program is headed by bartender Eryn Reece, esteemed alum of East Village bars Death & Co. and Mayahuel. Her cocktail menu is divided into two sections dubbed “Old Souls” and “New Editions.” From the Old Souls side, standouts include the Boulevardier — a relation of the Negroni, sans gin — which pairs Elijah Craig bourbon with Campari and Carpano Antica vermouth. Another is the Queens Park Swizzle, first concocted in a Trinidadian hotel in the 1920s, which provides a double helping of rum (eight-year-old El Dorado and Hamilton 151), plus lime, mint and Angostura bitters in a tall glass piled high with ice pellets.

On the menu: a reinterpretation
of frogs’ legs, served crisp

From the New Editions side, Public Daiquiri No. 1 brings some tiki flavor to the proceedings with three-year-old El Dorado rum, La Favorite Rhum, pineapple, lime, allspice dram and kaffir lime. And the Pinko de Mayo (de Muerte) provides a little heat with serrano peppers combined with Tapatio Blanco tequila, Manzanilla sherry, grapefruit and lime.

It’s not all about imbibing at the Wooly Public, though; daytime eats, evening eats and bar snacks are all available. As a nod to the Woolworth’s history, the evening menu rotates dishes from its original restaurant’s 1913 menu, culled from the archives of the New York Public Library. This time around it’s frogs’ legs served crisp with a deconstructed tartar.

Commissioned by retail magnate F.W. Woolworth and designed by Cass Gilbert, the Woolworth Building was officially inaugurated on April 24, 1913, when President Woodrow Wilson flipped a switch in the White House to illuminate what was then the world’s tallest building. Almost a century later, Alchemy Properties bought the top 30 floors of the tower and started converting them into 33 loft-like homes, which are designed by Thierry W. Despont.

The building’s new residences have been under construction since 2012, and the most expensive to hit the market so far is the full-floor unit 31A, which spans 5,991 square feet, has four bedrooms and two private terraces and is priced at $26.4 million.

“We’re thrilled about the completion of the residences and hope the Wooly Public will become a fun, neighborhood hangout for the building’s new residents,” said Adolfsen. “We’ve got them covered morning till late.”