At Ten Degrees, both cocktails and conversation are buy-one-get-one-free: Review

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The conversation has shifted from the existence of friendly extraterrestrials to pinpointing Janet Jackson’s peak among a small group of young professionals at Ten Degrees Bar, a wine-focused establishment right next to Crif Dogs on everyone’s favorite street to shame — St. Mark’s Place. They’re yelling songs, years and outfits across the small, u-shaped bar loud enough for passerby on the sidewalk to offer their own opinions through the open partitions. Everyone agrees that the early nineties were Jackson’s heyday, but that all-white boho chic ensemble she debuted in 2001 can’t be ignored. The group orders another round but no one pays because this is Happy Hour and it’s Buy One Get One Free for every drink. Yes, you read that correctly. Every drink is two for the price of one, every day from noon to 8pm.

Ten Degrees’ simple cocktails are made with fresh juice and decent spirits. They’re priced a bit high at $12, so take advantage of the Happy Hour deal. Phil, the affable bartender this evening — who suggests that Janet Jackson could be an alien herself — recommended the fizzy Tom Collins. It’s light enough to have two back to back, and the gin will have you buzzed for your nine o’clock Tinder date across the street at Bua. If you’re not a fan of gin, try the Lynchburg Lemonade, a bourbon margarita made with lemon juice and topped with soda.

Ten Degrees’ excellent and affordable wine menu, complete with tasting notes and information about its selection of reds, whites and pinks, is where the bar shines. The lengthy descriptions are detailed enough to delight wine enthusiasts, yet  clear enough for beginners. A budding sommelier on a tight budget might find Ten Degrees a good starting point.

Along with cocktails and wines, Ten Degrees offers cheese plates and a diverse selection of specialty domestic brews like the River Horse Triple from Lambertville, N.J., and the Hoptical Illusion from Long Island. Seasonal cocktails can be found on a chalkboard attached to an attractive brick wall. At $14, they command a slightly higher price than the rest of the bar’s drink offerings. This fall’s list includes the Red Delicious, a mixture of rum, fireball and apple cider, and the bar’s own Maker’s-infused iced tea.

Phil’s theory on Jackson’s interplanetary origins has now prompted a new wave of discussion. Theories rattle off Ten Degrees’ wine bottle-filled walls and echo onto St. Marks just as a private party of twenty-somethings has arrived to occupy a relatively secluded area toward the back. Although they’ve put more thought into their boot-and-denim pairings than they have the wine and cheese they just ordered, they picked a great pre-game spot before a midnight bar hop down one of the city’s most notorious party streets.

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