Winner of the American Airline's Platinum List Awards 2020 in the World's Best Intimate Bars category
"With a seductive speakeasy vibe and a name nodding to Thelonious Monk, this plush lounge is a new addition to the Harlem nightlife scene."
"Harlem's historic speakeasies helped inspire this new uptown lounge. The swank spot comes from somewhat unexpected founders; Ektoras Binikos, a visual artist and mixologist, and Simon Jutras, a photographer and interior designer."
"Sugar Monk is bringing the vibe of the Harlem Renaissance to life with their speakeasy-inspired mixology bar in Central Harlem."
"but if you're looking for an impressive spot where you can have a conversation this place is worth it."
"This cocktail lounge in Harlem's restaurant row is a feast for the senses"
"Sugar Monk-a new Harlem bar where the cocktails are almost too beautiful to drink"
"Sugar Monk Lounge, 2292 Frederick Douglas Boulevard in Manhattan, is one of those things that make life in New York worth living. It is a speakeasy bar inspired entirely by the Harlem Renaissance era, a place that adores art and where the alchemy of drinks is triumphant."
"Now, while this 30+ seat space was full, there was no standing. That is by design in order to maintain their guests' comfort and an enjoyable decibel level in the space."
"This chic Harlem lounge has been creating a stir with stunning interiors, beautiful cocktails and a vibe that takes you back to a time where glamour and sophistication were key."
A palpable passion for art, design, and surprising ingredients separates Sugar Monk from the pack of new NYC speakeasies, carrying forth the creative legacy of a neighborhood known for its rich cultural history.
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" This Harlem cocktail lounge offers mixed drinks with ingredients like Arabian jasmine, absinthe foam, and bergamot bitters, and while you won’t be upset with anything on the menu, the fact that you’re reading this guide suggests you already know what you want to drink. Fortunately, they make an excellent Sidecar as well."
Sugar Monk Amari Akhenaten
This New York-based Amari maker weaves rich tapestries of flavor, colored by esoteric herbs, spices, and other organic additives in its inventive renditions of the classic Italian herbal liqueur. Akhenaten incorporates more than 40 of them—tree bark, cumin, cedar, eucalyptus, basil and myrrh, to name but a few. Although bartenders could have a field day working the roasty, minty tonalities present here into high-minded cocktails, they’re compelling enough to approach neat or atop a solitary cube of ice. A bonus: 25% of all proceeds from this bottling go to the Harlem School of the Arts at the Herb Alpert Center.
We all know the cliché: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Well, life dropped some big fat lemons on Ektoras Binikos in 2020. His Harlem cocktail lounge, Sugar Monk, had been open less than a year when the pandemic swept into New York City and put a lock on his doors...
Carmelite Water, an herbal infusion featuring aromatic lemon balm, was created in the 14th century by Carmelite nuns for King Charles V of France. At Harlem’s Sugar Monk, proprietor Ektoras Binikos spritzes the fragrant elixir in cocktail glasses, creating an effect similar to an absinthe rinse....
Up in Harlem, dimly lit two-year-old cocktail lounge Sugar Monk is ready to offer guests six bar stools and a Mediterranean-inspired snack menu. Co-owner and head mixologist Ektoras Binikos hails from Greece, and a number of the bar’s dishes––such as the hummus, moussaka, and harissa-laced, marinated octopus––are old family recipes. Pair any of the aforementioned with globally flavored cocktails like the The Runnable Stag, which blends 12-year Scotch, Suze, Salers, star anise, and orange bitters.
Binikos of Sugar Monk, who endured a three-month waitlist for the bitters, says they have “an almost bouillon-like quality,” and subtle flavors of fish sauce, soy, mushrooms and yeast, noting, “They won’t work at all in a drink with a sweet profile.” He uses them in the Criss-Cross—a baroque stirred drink made with Svöl Dill Aquavit clarified gazpacho, oloroso sherry and few drops of squid ink—as well as the forthcoming Oh, Lady Be Good! made with black truffle- and olive oil-washed Arbikie gin and Brennivín aquavit infused with Icelandic moss.
Ektoras Binikos, co-founder of Sugar Monk in New York’s Harlem, is a big fan, too. “It’s really pretty spectacular,” says Binikos, at whose bar you’re more likely to find cocktails made with esoteric mezcal or gin along with house made Amari — not flavored vodka. Yet Binikos finds Arbikie Strawberry Vodka elegant, full of subtleties and finesse, “a hint of grass, stone fruit, and wild strawberries, of course, but without being strawberry Jammy.” He likes to serve it chilled with a wild strawberry garnish.
In Harlem in New York, Sugar Monk recently debuted a line of house-made Amari.
Every Monday evening, you can enjoy Prohibition-era cocktails and live jazz channeling the spirit and energy of the Harlem Renaissance at Sugar Monk. You'll have your pick of Prohibition and Pre-Prohibition cocktails (Sidecar, Clover Club, Bijou, French 75, The Boothby, The Bee's Knees, Hanky Pankey and others) to sip on while Max Bessesen and his trio play on from 8 to 10 pm.
“My favorite frozen cocktail is the Southside. I blend ice, 2 ounces Tod & Vixen’s Dry Gin 1651 from The Vale Fox Distillery in New York, 1 ounce of fresh lime juice, then instead of simple syrup, I use an elderflower syrup. It’s simple and delicious!”
— Ektoras Binikos, Beverage Director/Co-Owner, Sugar Monk, NYC
Overlooking Lunan Bay, Arbikie Highland Estate distillery is on the East Coast of Scotland. The name for Haar vodka comes from the coastal fog that so frequently shrouds the distillery. Made with a Zulu wheat, it’s creamy, complex, and terroir driven. Ektoras Binikos, co-owner and head mixologist at Sugar Monk in Harlem, NY, loves this vodka because it’s soft and delicate with aromas of pine, thyme, black wet moss, and a bit of vanilla. “It would make a killer martini and pairs very well with smoked salmon, lox, or caviar,” he says. Arbikie also makes a strawberry vodka that might just change your mind about flavored vodkas.
While it’s a shame not to enjoy the high-level Harlem drink-making magic inside this cozy, sexy speakeasy, for a few hours a night, you can still enjoy the voodoo of a smoky Marie Laveau (bourbon, amaro, cardamom, orange bitters and a poof of applewood smoke) or one of its other nine bottled cocktails to-go in 12-ounce or 25-ounce sizes ($40-$75). Orders can be placed online Tuesday through Saturday at SugarMonkLounge.com between 3:30 and 7:30 p.m., with final pickup at 8 p.m.