A few of The Office's cocktails

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more difficult to snag at table at a Grant Achatz/Nick Kokonas joint (Alinea, Next), now there’s The Office: a clubby VIP bar filled with art, antiques and only 14 seats, tucked behind a locked door beneath the Fulton Market cocktail lounge The Aviary. How do you get in? You don’t—not without an invitation.

But if you do find yourself being ushered beyond that faceless metal door, here’s how it’ll happen—and what you’ll find inside:

  1. The cocktail menu is completely different from what you may have tried at The Aviary. Rather than the “have you ever seen anything like it?!” concoctions that are delivered to oohs and aahs upstairs, The Office focuses on reinvented classics made with top-tier ingredients. Every cocktail on the list is $20, and don’t look for cutesy names. If you want the wheat whiskey with chicory, cayenne, sarsaparilla and agave, just say “whiskey.” For the gin with honeydew, loyage, lime, chartreuse and tonic? Just say “gin.”
  2. Not in the mood for anything on the cocktail list? Tell your server your favorite spirit and ask for the dealer’s choice. The bartender will whip up a one-of-a-kind creation, just for you.
  3. The food menu keeps it simple, too, listing items so basic it’s almost laughable to note their prices: beef tartare ($50), shrimp cocktail ($30), ice cream sundae ($25). (The Reader’s Mike Sula reported Achatz’s thoughtful justification for the numbers, but even that couldn’t please a throng of affronted commenters.) What actually comes out of the kitchen belies the bare-bones descriptions: six oysters on the half shell ($30) are presented with an array of medicine droppers each labeled with a different flavor (fennel, lemon, smoke, curry, green peppercorn, etc.). “Get creative,” instructs your server.
  4. Need to venture out to the ladies’? Grab a key off the bar and take it with you, and try not to feel too smug when non-Office patrons crane their necks to see where you’re going when you let yourself back inside.
  5. “We basically invite people who we know will appreciate what we’re offering. People who’ve dined with us at Alinea and Next, repeat customers,” explains Brittany, a typically polished but friendly (for an Achatz/Kokonas spot) server at The Office. The ultimate sign you’re an Achatz insider? If you’re given the private phone number for The Office, which clients can use to text reservation requests as they please. Nope, I don’t have it.