The Place Next Door to The Varnish

Tough luck. You couldn’t get into the Varnish, or the wait just seemed like too much this time. Or maybe the brusque staff there just got to you. No matter what the excuse is, there’s only one thing to do: Drown your sorrows in the place next door. Well, it’s really not that bad. You see — the Association deserves to be known for being a bit more than just the place next door to the Varnish. That would be unfair.

Attempt the space on a Friday or Saturday night, and you might be rebuffed by a similar line to that at the Varnish — only it’s outside. Better to try a weeknight, when the bartenders can really get into some history and complete the speakeasy vibe that the low ceilings, dim lighting, and curved leather booths aim to provide. (Although, in complete honesty, after a few drinks, it seems to smack a bit more of a former old school Chinese restaurant. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why, but if you go, after a few drinks, you might see it too.)

Never mind the intended or actual ambiance; you came for the drinks. And they do not disappoint. A classic Hemingway, executed with tender loving care and the help of fresh fruit juice and a mixologist in the know starts things off right. Followed by a derby with a burnt orange twist, things are soon forgotten, and a well-executed pisco sour seals the deal.

There isn’t much else to be remembered about the Association, but then again, that’s kind of the point.