There are many people in New York at the moment that would probably like to stage a coup against the current administration. But in the absence of violent seizures of power from Trump & Co., there’s Coup, a new bar from Ravi DeRossi near Astor Place. Here's what makes it even more worth your time: DeRossi plans to donate 100 percent of the cocktail bar’s profits to organizations including Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.
“That election really took a toll on me, because I didn’t really think there was a chance that the current administration would actually win,” DeRossi said recently. “So on that fateful day, I just sank into this crazy depression, I couldn’t get out of bed. It was like being in junior high school and being bullied constantly.”
DeRossi, who has been called "the stealth prince of the East Village" for his many bars in the neighborhood, like Cienfuegos, Amor y Amargo, and Death & Company, decided in February to do something about that feeling.
So, he transformed one of his spaces into a social salon for good. When patrons buy a drink, they’ll receive wooden tokens to put into jars labeled for causes, non-profits, or organizations that need support under the impending economic policies. On the list of causes: climate change, immigration reform and expansion, Affordable Care Act protection, criminal justice system reform, veterans affairs, campaign finance reform, civil liberty protection and legislation, sexual orientation discrimination, and on and on.
“You walk around the room with the tokens, because we’re trying to encourage discussion and community,” he told me.
DeRossi has a bit of a social conscience—in 2015, he began converting his roster of restaurants to vegan outposts. He closed The Bourgeois Pig; switched over the menus at Mother of Peal and Cienfuegos (and saw food sales double); and opened Avant Garden and Ladybird.
“My mission right now is to change the perception of what it means to eat plant-based,” he said. “Up until a few years ago, it was boring, the food sucked, and it wasn’t cool. It was this granola crunchy thing.” At DeRossi’s eateries, you might not even realize you’re in a meatless facility.
Coup is no hippie-dippie affair either; an impressive roster of bartenders will make guest appearances at the space, from Death & Co., PDT, Porchlight, and more. They’ll make two to three speciality cocktails, while a house bartender will be on hand in case you’d rather just order a gin and tonic.
“We’ve had over 100 bartenders reach out to ask about doing guest bartending shifts,” said DeRossi. “People from all over the world will be flying in to do it.”
On the walls of the space, kraft paper rolls are decorated with sayings you’ve probably seen on signs at various protests this year: “They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” “Black lives matter.” “When they go low, we go high.”
Eventually, DeRossi will role out a food program donated by local chefs, though he’s hoping Coup will be a short-term project.
“We’re calling it a pop-up, but we’ll be here as long as the current regime is in power,” he says. “Hopefully it won’t be a four-year term.”
In the meantime, he’s offering up a solution for those many New Yorkers who are unsure how to stand up for what’s right.
“Everybody wants to do something, but they don’t know what it is they can do,” said DeRossi. “Here, you can get drunk and do something good.”
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