LIC’s The Standing Room offers inventive cocktails along with laughs

Photos by Bradley Hawks


When someone mentions a comedy club, “fine craft cocktail” is probably not the first word association that jumps to mind. But just as the art of great humor is a complicated blend of anecdote, wit, storytelling, timing and physicality, the elements behind a truly great comedy space demand far more than merely a revolving crowd of funny men and women to elicit guffaws from the masses.

Long Island City has gradually been gaining clout as a hub of clever, nuanced and delicious cocktails in the New York City drinkscape. But The Standing Room, somewhat hidden smack-dab in the middle of the busiest section of Vernon Boulevard, is rapidly becoming a lounge that wondrously stands out from the crowd. Blink and you might walk past it. But once you find your way in, it is an experience you will not soon forget.

Developed by a team that has represented some of the city’s most hilarious men and women—and regularly brings them to the stage in LIC—The Standing Room recognized a need for more than just laughter. So on New Year’s Eve, BORO Magazine sat down with mixologist Shigefumi Kabashima to usher in the New Year with some delightfully inventive cocktails.

In a drink known as “Smoke,” a snifter of bourbon was delicately filled with a touch of ancho chile, Cynar and a dash of bitters before being covered with a glass dome, and then filled with a cloud of smoke via a glowing blue torch. Dramatic presentation is undeniably a component of many of these drinks. When the glass bell was lifted, the smoke rolled over the bar, with just a puff remaining in the glass. And that airy wisp added an element of peppery fire that elevated the drink to a whole new level.

With the “Pineapple,” a blend of passion fruit rum, pineapple and vanilla rest beneath a lime that has been cut in half and filled with rum. As the lime is ignited and raised above the glass, the luminous rum is then poured into the cocktail in a glowing stream of blue, before being sprinkled with cinnamon—which ignites the drink like a Fourth of July firecracker.

The “Flower” employs a glass lightbulb as a serving vessel, filled with dry gin, lavender, elderflower and cranberry, all garnished with miniature rosebuds. And a special of the house requires a bird’s nest to house an egg from which the top has been carefully removed. The egg white is then foamed and poured over a whiskey sour—which is served in the hollowed eggshell.

These are the sorts of drink presentations that warrant ovations all of their own. And the concoctions are every bit as grand as they appear.

So, whether you are seated at the front bar to enjoy the showmanship of the brilliant mixologists, or you take your drink to the stage in back where between 30 and 40 people gather for some brilliant comedy, you are guaranteed an evening of entertainment. With a staff as friendly and gracious as the drinks are beautiful and delicious, The Standing Room is worthy of a visit—even when the main show isn’t on the stage.

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