UES. – A ‘Speakeasy’ Behind Tubs of Ice Cream

The history of ice cream dates back centuries. Legend has it that ice cream was first introduced into American society by Dolley Madison at President Madison’s second inaugural banquet at The White House. Furthermore, it’s common knowledge that speakeasies became popular (a dire necessity) in the 1930s during Prohibition.

That being said, when you are craving something sweet or an adult beverage, UES. is scooping and pouring for trendy locals and city tourists on New York City’s Upper East Side.

Here’s what I discovered:

A shocking, pink ice cream parlor practically transported from the set of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory glows on Second Avenue between 88th and 89th Streets. You can practically smell the sugar and dairy in the air while watching groups dressed like Beau Brummell and Anna Wintour slither into the small shop.

The ice scream scooper will greet you with a smile and you will notice a host/hostess standing by a wall of ice cream containers. Those who live in this hood and visitors, with patience, wait until it’s their chance to give the code. The wall of ice cream will eventually open and several guests will exit while others enter.

Once inside, the dimly lit room gives way to an illuminated faux antique bar brimming with an abundance of liquors from waist high to ceiling.

The interior decor is a mix of yester-year memorabilia, oddly placed doors, rustic light fixtures along with today’s sense of whimsy and pomp — it’s like Uptown playing Downtown. The room has several booths, tables and a small bar. The lighting is very flattering while the music lifts the spirits with tunes sung by every crooner in the Rat Pack. The result conjures up a different era and yet the volume of the music is set at the perfect decibel so you can carry on a conversation.

Behind the bar, you are more than likely to encounter Prince (above), surrounded by a plethora of condiments to make their impressive cocktails. Their ingredients include: hard candy, pop rocks, various minerals, multiple infused syrups, chile peppers, ice cream, herbs, fruits and more, the list goes on and on and on. It’s enough to make a flapper pass out!

The menu is extremely complex in the spirit of mixology.

While sworn to secrecy about the concoctions, I learned that the drink ingredients are as elusive as the place itself. What I can tell you is that they are delivered in vessels that range from garden planters in the shape of a swan to delicate china cups to impressive cordial glassware. Each beverage takes time to create and are practically a work of art. Classic cocktails like the Negroni are also given a UES twist. The patrons occupy the tables for long periods of time sipping and gossiping over one or perhaps two of UES signature drinks. They covet their seats with minimal turnover while scoops of ice cream fly out the window by the masses out of sight.

While the kids are eating ice cream outside on a pink bench with their nannies, the adults imbibe within earshot — it’s a perfect match. Speaking of matches, one their cocktails is set aflame with a cornhusk garnish.

UES. is an obscure place to take a date, gather with friends or impress an out-of-town client. You may encounter a few women who resemble Dolley Madison. Sweet!

Tip: If you venture to UES., treat your friends to some ice cream and make sure you tell the host/hostess that you are there to “volunteer in storage.” Dress up without sneakers and sportswear — the dress code is very strict.

Note: The ice cream parlor is open seven days a week. The Storage is open at 5 pm every day but Sunday.

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1707 2nd Ave?New York,
b/t 88th St & 89th Street
New York, NY