In New York City’s restaurant landscape, Ariel Arce is a creative force to be reckoned with. Opened in 2017, Air’s Champagne Parlor was her first venue. A brightly colored, Deco-inspired wine bar in the West Village, Air’s put Champagne on the menu as the main attraction—it’s the kind of spot where you can casually drink bottles of bubbles that are way beyond the typical.
After Air’s Champagne Parlor, Arce opened Tokyo Record Bar in the building’s basement. Inspired by Japanese speakeasies and record bars in Japan where, you guessed it, guests can listen to vinyl and drink whiskey, her spin on the concept interwove the two and made it more interactive for the guests. There are only two seatings a night where attendees sample a prefixed menu of izakaya-style snacks, sake and cocktails while helping curate the vinyl playlist as the DJ spins live. (They also have a late night bar where you can snack and drink rare sakes and cocktails.)
This coming spring, Arce is opening her third bar and restaurant in the city. Also nouveau in the industry, the next venture will be a dinner party-esque experience that will vary night to night, depending on who’s hosting it. “Each host will be a beverage professional—be it a winemaker, a distiller, a beverage director or a sommelier—sharing their experience with the guests,” she says. Accompanying the host will be a variety of different music and foods to heighten the experience. “My goal is to create a community of really interested and engaged consumers that can learn about wine and spirits without being in a classroom-type of environment. It hopefully makes learning about these things less scary.”
We met with Arce to talk wine and some of her favorite spots here in New York to visit after work. “As a person that was born and raised in this city, I know my late night spots.” says Arce. “Just to be upfront though, I’m not going to be eating healthily at 2:00 a.m. I don’t really eat that healthy in general, to be honest.”
From late night pub grub to music venues where you can drink, here are her favorite after hours spots in the city that never sleeps.
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For those who aren’t familiar with kati rolls, they are a traditional Indian street food. Think taquitos, spring rolls or lumpia—except not deep-fried. On the menu here, they are known as the famous Calcutta Nazumi rolls. Tucked inside flaky parathas—a type of flatbread common throughout India, Pakistan and Nepal—is a mouthwatering combination of egg, a protein and a hefty amount of spice (there are also vegetarian options of course). According to Arce, they burst with a lot of citrus, red onion and peppery heat. “You can ask for them to be really, really spicy,” she adds. “And I love aggressively spicy food.”
Portrait of Ariel Arce by Noah Fecks.