It may come as no surprise that Valentine’s Day is one of our favorite holidays, and why shouldn’t it be? Any holiday that calls for racing hearts, romantic surprises, and l’amour deserves all the … well, l’amour. Every 14th of February, we find ourselves trying to top the adventures of Valentine’s past and, honestly, it can be a bit of a challenge. Romantic dinner with your lover and about 50 other NYC couples? Meh. A cozy night in with your beau (or belle) and a movie? Maybe. Time travel over cocktails?? Tell me more…
Our search for the perfect anti-hype Valentine’s location was officially over when we sauntered down the secluded steps of The Honeywell in Harlem. As we descended, the lights went down, the music came up, and it felt like we were walking straight into New York of the 60’s. Was that Don Draper in the corner? Well, no (sadly), but only because he probably wouldn’t have been hip enough to know about this subterranean gem.
When settling in, the feeling of awesome nostalgia hit hard. The space reminded us of being downstairs in our boyfriend’s parents’ basement, sneaking kisses and cocktails from the liquor cabinet while his mother would “bring us a little snack” from the party going on upstairs as an excuse to check in on us. Honeywell’s “snacks”? Killer deviled eggs (and they don’t care if you steal a kiss or two). We may’ve been born too late, but we imagine this is exactly how 1968 felt. From the vinyl bar chairs to the tiny TV in the corner playing vintage Newlywed Game eps, this bar is meant to take you back, says owner Chad Vigneulle. “We were motivated to create a throwback to simpler times before cell phones and dating apps,” he explains. Keeping eyes away from our screens was pretty easy, considering a drink called the Disco Inferno (ha) was being set on fire right at the bar. Our two cents: If you really want to impress your date, ask for The Funkadelic. It’s served in a lava lamp, of course (and it’s not on the menu).
Sparkling cocktails, equally sparkling conversation, cozy dark corners, and a few convivial throwbacks . . . no matter what era, really, that’s the makings of a perfect Valentine’s night.
by Chanell Garcia
Chanell likes to hang out with her cat, 2 Chainz, invent gin-based cocktails, and is usually tracking down her new favorite restaurant. Follow her adventures at @hungryinharlem.