All is not well at Angel’s Share, the popular second-story Japanese-style cocktail bar near Astor Place. Increasingly, signs indicate the business is setting up to close soon because of a failed rent negotiation, though nothing is confirmed as of yet, meaning there’s still a glimmer of hope for fans and for the bar’s workers.
For anyone who appreciates a well-made cocktail, it would be impossible to overstate the importance of Angel’s Share. Opened in 1993 — when oversize lychee martinis were flowing at bars throughout the city — the bar’s studious, thoughtful approach to making drinks was an anomaly. In the years since, of course, this became the default mode of most, if not all, cocktails bars, as faux-speakeasy settings, nattily dressed bartenders, and deeply solemn takes on classic drinks became the norm. Now, rumors are swirling that it is set to close for good.
On Wednesday, New York Times reporter Alex Vadukul tweeted that he’d learned Village Yokocho, an izakaya through which customers enter Angel’s Share, was facing a “massive rent hike.” Both operations, he learned, would be closing along with the bakery Pan Ya and a location of the Japanese grocery chain Sunrise Mart at 4 Stuyvesant Street.
Neither the bar’s owners nor the building’s landlord, Cooper Union, responded when I reached out — usually not a great sign — although an associate familiar with the situation confirms the grim outlook. I stopped into Yokocho yesterday evening, just after opening at 5 p.m., and overheard a server saying, “It’s so sad, it’s so sad.” When I asked the same server about the closing, they responded that management was still “figuring it out.”
By the time it opened at six, a line had formed outside the entrance to Angel’s Share, which is inside the restaurant. The small bar area was more or less full by 6:30. I asked a bartender what he’d heard about the closing. “There’s an 85 percent chance that we close,” he said. “It’s okay, though, because we’re gonna relocate.”
The only thing that is certain right now, it seems, is that a lot has changed in the nearly 30 years since Angel’s Share opened, including the value of prime East Village real estate. Angel’s Share may have to change, too. “It won’t be the same,” the bartender sighed, but he did tell me one piece of good news: They’re not letting go of the giant celestial portrayal of baby angels that famously hangs above the bar. “We’re taking the painting with us if we go.”