Tired of dodging vomiting millennials or model-hunting finance bros whenever you hit the Lower East Side? If so, head south to Ludlow and Division. There,you’ll find a small string of same-owner establishments on a block that feels like a secret. Go to Kiki’s or Sherman’s for a plate of souvlaki, then finish your night at Forgtmenot, a casual bar that is both eclectic and welcoming.
Paul, the owner of all three establishments, can usually be found at Forgtmenot nursing a whiskey on the rocks. He’s a big Greek fellow with an inviting smile and a firm handshake who can talk futbol 24/7. His enthusiasm for the sport has turned this bar into a futbol haunt on weekend mornings. Matches are shown on two television screens for a small group of raging Manchester United fanatics. Beer, Michelada’s and strong margaritas served in Mason jars are readily consumed. Expletives fly.
On a Saturday night, residual enthusiasm from the morning’s matches primes the expansive and labyrinthine space for a night of revelry. There’s a bar up front and another in the back. In between the bars, charming, rickety tables pepper simple rooms where trendsetters old and new drink beer, swill fun but affordable cocktails and nosh through a solid menu of plates small and large alike. The space is decorated with the loving offerings of regulars, staff members and maybe even Paul himself. Whether or not this is the case, it feels like Paul’s home.
Dylan, the fast, efficient and head-on-a-swivel bartender this evening, uses her bar spoon to point out a picture of Paul peddling Halloween candy to a crowd of costumed kids on Division Street (future patrons). Next to this, a scrawled note: “Don’t Yelp us. It’s stupid.” Farther down, there’s a sign for a black diamond ski slope—“Dream Maker”—next to a wooden slab indicating how far away Rockaway Beach is (15.7 miles).
Settle in and scan the menu of irreverent takes on classic cocktails, all $12 and under. Feeling more casual? Order a draft beer for $6 or a can for $5. Red, White and Rose wine is available by the glass for $8. Flip the menu over and go straight for the Forget-Me-Naughty, a hot cocktail that blends smoky bourbon with fresh lemon juice and ginger liqueur.
As the night wears on, field invites from regulars to return the next morning for futbol matches, take photos of your favorite bathroom stickers (every wall is completely covered) and embrace the feeling that you’re in on a secret. Shake Dylan’s hand and tell her goodbye. She’s working again on Tuesday? Great, you’ll see her then.