Beer, wine and even cider bars abound in NYC, but Air’s Champagne Parlor is one of the few area drinkeries solely devoted to bubbly.
Former beverage director at the similarly-themed Riddling Widow, Ariel Arce first nursed her passion at Birds & Bubbles and Chicago’s Pops for Champagne (not to mention Grant Achatz’s exclusive, original The Office) before that. Meaning her reputation as queen of Cuvèe absolutely proceeds her.
Situated in Ravi DeRossi’s longheld Greenwich Village space (which formerly housed Ladybird, along with Riddling Widow in the basement), Arce has retrofitted her Parlor with all sorts of sultry, highborn flourishes; such as billowy white curtains, bird of paradise plants, and royal purple banquettes. Yet her primary objective is to challenge the elite connotations traditionally surrounding Champagne, and position it — if not as an everyday drink for the common man — at least a tipple that you don’t need to be Jay-Z to enjoy.
For starters, you won’t be looked down on for ordering cocktails; in fact, there’s an entire section that extends well beyond French 75’s and Kir Royales; think a “Chamomile Collins” comprised of champagne, amontillado sherry and port. One could even avail themselves of a “WWBMD” (What Would Bill Murray Do); champagne with expressed lemon served — gasp! — over ice.
Ranging from an easy to stomach $11 to a more rarified $20, you can forgo popping bottles and settle for a glass; ranging from the key lime-evoking Eudald Massana Familia Cava from Penedes Spain, to the toasted almond-esque Marie-Amelie ‘Fleur de Vin’ via Villers-Mamery France. And sparkling wine (produced anywhere outside of the actual region of Champagne) is hardly forboden; pages are devoted to offerings from other parts of France — such as Bernard Fouquet Vouvray from the Loire Valley — as well as Italy (Rezzadore Prosecco), Germany (Dr. Deinhard Riesling Sekt), Greece (Amyndeon Xinomavro Brut Cuvee Speciale) and the United States (California’s Scholium Project Blowout).
Even blends (made from multiple grapes), blanc de blancs (white wine from Champagne), and sparkling rose have their day, but Air’s certainly doesn’t turn its nose up at the good stuff. Rest assured, big spenders and celebrators can still have their pick of glorious, vintage Champagnes. A nuanced expression of terroir from a single year’s harvest (and taking a minimum of four years to get from vineyard to table), they are the finest of quality and a winemaker’s pride. Yet at Air’s, only two or so bottles dip into the still relatively economical $400 range (i.e., Pol Roger Winston Churchill from Epernay France) — as most are in the low $100’s; like J L Vergnon Grand Cru OG, from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger.
Still too rich for your blood? Peruse the food options, where — amongst caviar services, raw oysters and kobe beef carpaccios, you’ll discover a $6 Champagne Snow Cone for dessert.
Because at Ariel Arce’s buoyant version of Versailles, she really does want to grant us peasants unimpeded access to bubbly.
Air’s Champagne Parlor
127 Macdougal St