“It’s basically A small sand spit on Gardiners Bay,” Jason LaGarenne says on a recent afternoon. He’s describing Lazy Point, N.Y., his hometown, a hamlet between East Hampton and Montauk on the southern tip of Long Island that serves as the inspiration for his new cocktail bar. “It’s very unspoiled in terms of the nature, very authentic, which is rather un-Hamptonslike.”
LaGarenne’s new spot, named after said sand spit, also seems to differ from its surroundings. Located on the corner of Spring and Greenwich Streets in TriBeCa, Lazy Point’s white picnic tables, surfing photos and vintage scuba gear are a departure from the sleek multimillion dollar apartments and cobblestone streets skirting it. “We wanted to just hint at the coastal décor and create an overall happy feeling,” LaGarenne says. “[Lazy Point] is a very relaxing place, and we wanted to bring a little of that into the city.”
The concept is a strategic shift from the former venue at that address, The Anchor, which started its seven-year run with parties by Doug Aitken and Bill Murray and ended with Lindsay Lohan reportedly doing cocaine in the bathroom (and then being flown directly to rehab). “I feel like most of the young people now eat and drink in Brooklyn — there’s not that really young crowd that’s going out five nights a week in Manhattan anymore,” says LaGarenne. “Nightclubs in general are dwindling. People don’t want to come out after their workweek and be hassled by a doorman or the bottle service thing which is kind of passé. We wanted to close [The Anchor] on our own terms before we got to that point, and build the place we wanted to build instead.”
The Anchor closed on Labor Day, and LaGarenne, along with co-owner Gunther Bilali, head mixologist Jeremy Strawn, and 19-year-old chef (and former “Chopped” competitor) Greg Grossman, soft opened Lazy Point during New York Fashion Week with an after party for Proenza Schouler. Its official opening is on Thursday, when Strawn will start serving drinks like the Pistachio Mule and the Beets by Dre, made with gin, fresh beets, rosemary and lime. “We wanted to have cocktails that are interesting and complex but at the same time, there’s not 30 ingredients in them,” says LaGarenne. “As someone who’s worked in this industry for a decade, even I go out to those places and don’t know half the ingredients in the drinks. There’s a sort of smugness to that, and we wanted to get away from the self-seriousness of it all.”
The food also takes its cues from simple coastal fare, though it’s certainly more elevated than your average beach bar food. Fried oysters are served with whipped potato chip mousse and black truffle marmalade and the grilled cheese includes white truffle honey mustard and kimchi. The raw bar features signature proprietary oysters crossbred by a “mad scientist, seafaring man” in Napeague Bay. “It’s a high-minded take on stuff you would find at a beach bar, but still enough to sustain you while you’re hopefully drinking many cocktails,” says LaGarenne.
Which is to say that even though Lohan isn’t likely to stop by any time soon, that doesn’t mean the general revelry will fall by the wayside. Like at The Anchor, DJs will still be spinning on Friday and Saturday nights, and there’s plenty of open floor space for impromptu dance parties. “If you go to a club, you might have a great time dancing but you get a terrible drink,” says LaGarenne. “And if you go to a cocktail place you get a great drink but you might not be having as much fun because you can’t stand up. So we wanted to kind of bridge the gap.”
Most of all for LaGarenne, Lazy Point is the antithesis to New York’s over-the-top craft food and cocktail scene. “You’ll find stuff like a one-table restaurant serving only food foraged in Red Hook and it’s built out of reclaimed wheelbarrow parts from the 18th century,” he quips. “It goes too far. We wanted to bring it back to just being about fun and quality drinks.”