BlackTail is a cocktail bar with a retro Cuban theme that serves Old Havana inspired vices and American dishes. Located in Pier A Harbor House, they have a decorous space with aesthetics that match the bar’s theme. BlackTail is run by the same award-winning crew who created The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog. Come in for an adventures evening — skies the limit!
OUR ARTICLEBY: Ryan Kirk Contributing writer
Where do we start? This cocktail harbor has more layers than a film by Martin Scorsese, and it’s just as entertaining. If you’re an aficionado of dark-frame spectacles, make sure they’re on, because just like a movie by that director mentioned above, this bar is all about the details. BlackTail isn’t a speakeasy – quite the opposite, actually. Think of it more as a point of egress, an escape from New York through clouds and jet streams as you fly to your final destination: Cuba.
I guess if we have to start somewhere, it should be the beginning. In 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail from Spain and landed on the Caribbean islands. Too far back? Well, it explains BlackTail’s conspicuous painting that engulfs a wall behind the bar. The reproduction of John Vanderlyn’s 1847 piece of art “Landing Columbus” immediately steals every eye in the room like it’s a playoff game in the background of a date with your lady – good luck looking away.
the real start to the adventure that created this bar is with the courageous, risk-taking, cocktail-absorbing souls who first took flight.
BlackTail finds its Casa inside Pier A Harbor House, right off Battery Park. It’s a location that at one time helped set sail and then flight to seaplanes heading out to wetter lands. During prohibition, when the booze dried up, many cocktail creatives migrated to Havana with the hopes of escaping the embargo, where they could sip daiquiris and continue engaging in their love of the Caribbean cane juice and other tasteful spirits. Many of their flights of passage came via Aeromarine planes (seaplanes), where all they had to do was hop in and soar south.
Inside the retro Cuban-inspired hangar, a dark-wood bar top stands proudly in front of the captivating canvas. With brass plaques engraved into the wood, it commemorates some of the island’s most famous visitors, like Ernest Hemingway, Al Capone, and Alec Guinness. Be careful when grabbing a seat at the bar – rum mixed with staring at a name like “Al Capone” for too long can result in temporary side-effects on your psyche. Remember, tommy guns are very illegal in New York City.
Even the bar stools have meaning, as they were modeled after the seats at the famous El Floridita, one of Hemingway’s choice watering holes in Old Havana. The walls on the bar are covered with photographs by Vern Evans, an American photographer who snapped shots of Cuban life over the last 25 years.
When selecting a cocktail from the menu, we suggest a basic yet not-so-basic drink: the Rum & Cola. It’s a delicious take on one of the classics. With Bahamian Rum, Fernet Branca, Cola Syrup, Aromatic Bitters, and Brut Champagne, it’ll have you speaking in soliloquies, jotting down stories, and puffing on cigars in no time. You may even grow a white whisker or two in your beard. Don’t worry, it’ll make you look more distinguished.
The original name of BlackTail came about as a nickname for the tail fins of the Aeromarines’ merge fleet, as they were painted black so they could be instantly recognizable from the ground. But the real start to the adventure that created this bar is with the courageous, risk-taking, cocktail-absorbing souls who first took flight. Those thought-provoking rule-bending daredevils saw life as a game or a puzzle rather than a math problem. This bar is for those whose spirits live above the clouds, always in sunshine, always with a cold drink never too far away.
After a few sips here you may start pondering a trip to Cuba. Bring your passports!
Sloppy-joe empanadas are on the food menu. Braised short rib… say no more
Check for familiar names engraved at the bar. You’ll see quite a few you may recognize
Their take on the Rum & Cola might be the best we’ve ever tried. If you can’t decide, it’s a clutch go-to
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