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Alcohol & Spirits

Downtown's New Chapter & Verse: It's Not a Bar

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Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 10:00 AM

click to enlarge Proprietors' Alex Day and David Kaplan. - CAROLINE ON CRACK
  • Caroline on Crack
  • Proprietors' Alex Day and David Kaplan.
The new Chapter & Verse in Downtown's Arts District is not a bar. It is created by bar dynamos David Kaplan and Alex Day of Proprietors LLC, a hospitality firm responsible for Death & Company (NYC), Bar & Kitchen and the cocktail programs for Stella Rosa and Rosa Mexicano.

And although it does have a cool "bar" name, C&V is simply, or not so simply, an office/cocktail lab. Bars are created and born there, yes, but you can't just show up at the Traction Avenue office and bend the bartender's ear over a well-made cocktail. Well you could, but you'd have to be invited.

Don't be disappointed that you can't add this to your bar hop route, though, because Proprietors has a downtown nightlife project in the works -- a two-bar venue with live music that's scheduled to open August 2012.

At Chapter & Verse, it is easy to be fooled by the custom-fabricated bar area with its soft-shut drawers, sloped sink space and wall of liquor bottles. However, it's all for experimenting and creating cocktail menus. And that large collection of Schott Zwiesel Charles Schumann glassware on the back shelf isn't for serving customers drinks but rather for Proprietors' upcoming project in Mumbai.

click to enlarge Liquor bottles for, ahem, research. - CAROLINE ON CRACK
  • Caroline on Crack
  • Liquor bottles for, ahem, research.
The office, which takes over Crazy Gideon's space, is shared with Handsome Roasters Coffee, with ample room for a grinder, water tower, siphon brewer and all that other coffee paraphernalia. The two companies had met when Proprietors was doing a coffee program at Bar & Kitchen. Seeing as how both teams share an obsession for beverages -- they know their respective drinks so well they can cite everything about them by "chapter and verse" -- they became fast friends. So when Handsome expressed the need for an off-site space as well, the guys brought them in.

With a growing roster of projects spanning the globe and an expanding team, Proprietors needed a command center. As it was they were working out of a very small room at the O Hotel over Bar & Kitchen.

Kaplan explains what their model was for creating a dedicated space, something that really doesn't exist for their industry: "Beverage and hospitality don't really have something like this so we looked to a couple comparable models. One being an advertising agency. When you're a creative firm, you have essentially a creative space. You have something that supports that creative environment. We also thought about music studios. When you're creating and writing songs, you have something that is conducive to that. You have all the recording equipment and fun toys in terms of instruments. And you also have a workspace, relaxing space. You have an environment in which to do that. Hospitality doesn't have that."

click to enlarge The Varnish bartender/Proprietors project manager Devon Tarby (pictured here with cocktail blogger Daniel Djang). - CAROLINE ON CRACK
  • Caroline on Crack
  • The Varnish bartender/Proprietors project manager Devon Tarby (pictured here with cocktail blogger Daniel Djang).

"As the scope of the next couple years became clear, it became pretty obvious that we needed a place to focus energy and produce a lot of different things," says Day. "Because at the end of the day we don't like doing the same thing and putting it into every project, like here's our set of 50 cocktails and just loop them in and out. That's not how we like doing it."

Chapter & Verse has become a place to not only invite clients and train new staff but it serves as a resource for the industry. "That's kind of the nature of this industry. We all work together, we learn from each other, it's very much about apprenticeship so this is a continuation and expansion of that idea in an aggressive way," says Day.


Caroline on Crack writes about drinking around Los Angeles on her blog of the same name. Follow her real-time drinking on Twitter, @carolineoncrack.

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