There’s no shortage of serviceable bars in the Lower East Side. If you and your crew are looking for a semi-dark room where you can down a couple of chilly beers and exchange boiling-hot gossip while haphazardly playing foosball, your options are innumerable. But if you’re hunting for more than a smelly dive bar and instead want a spot that feels both luxurious and low-key, look no further than Las’ Lap on Orchard Street.
It’s rare to find a bar in New York City that exudes this kind of exclusivity while also remaining warm and fun. With its rum-centric cocktails and sky-high ceilings, Las’ Lap feels paradoxically inviting and aloof—like staring into the eyes of a very handsome celebrity. The menu is big on fusion, offering tasty items like jerk chicken spring rolls, Maine lobster arepas and tipples with names like “A Tree Grows in Cuba”, a mix of Havana Club Añejo, Oloroso sherry, maple, sea salt and aromatic bitters.
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I swung by the other night with a cluster of raucous friends and found Las’ Lap closed to the public for a private event. The last time I visited the bar this had also been the case, except that time I’d had the good fortune of being invited to the party. It was a special Valentine’s Day mixology class thrown in honor of actor Michael B. Jordan, who moonlights as a creative partner with the rum brand Bacardi. That evening, Jordan took ownership of the space behind the elegant marble bar and doled out shots of amber liquor into eagerly extended cups as everyone in attendance leaned forward eagerly, trying to exchange a couple of words with a person so handsome, the whole thing almost felt embarrassing.
The Newark, N.J.–raised Jordan owned the place that evening, partly because he’s an actual investor in the establishment. “I used to help my grandmother make rum cakes,” Jordan told CNBC. “And so rum cakes is very big in my family, it’s big in my childhood. So now that I’m older, I invested in a rum bar with my best friends. You can’t do everything. You have to be selective. You want to build your brand in a very prestigious way, that’s what I’m going for.”
The prestigious splendor of Las’ Lap is on full display. Lush greenery spills from the walls and ceiling, which is also outfitted with geometric light fixtures. The atmosphere evokes the Caribbean while also feeling distinctly Manhattan. The slim space between the drink station and the wall conjures a sense of intimacy and specialness—like a whole lot of people would love to be standing where you’re standing. After all, great bars aren’t cavernous or lit like storage facilities—they’re cramped in a way that feels intentional, and decorated in such a way that you long to return again and again and still feel like you’re discovering something new every time you do.
That said, if Las’ Lap is not necessarily the best place to bring your mom, it’s not a perfect site for a first date either. This is a bar where you can laugh comfortably and loudly with a group of people you’ve known for years without having to worry about whether you’re making a fool of yourself—or perhaps flirt with the person next to you without any assumptions about where it’ll lead you. Consider it an oasis in the middle of the concrete jungle.