11/09/2010 10:53 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Underground Franco Drinking

France's days as a colonial super power are long behind it, having shifted from a nation that once trucked foreigners, to one whose own truckers pretty much truck it. But you can still drink in its past glory, thanks to 1534.

Conceived by the owner of upstairs neighbor Jacques, and helmed by one of the Contemporary Cocktails crew, 1534's billing itself as a "cocktail sanctuary", a getaway from NYC's ostentatious drinks scene that highlights the flavors & ingredients once popular in France and its colonies; the subterranean den's rocking walls covered in a whitewashed Savannah grassland pattern, checkered flooring covered with large ornate rugs, and a mix of new and antique punch bowls reflecting a theme of "whimsy and global decadence", which sounds like Fabulous Fab, if only he had whimsy. Inspired tipples include the French-Polynesian Rebel Yell (rum, lemon juice, house made orgeat, apricot liqueur, bitters, mint); the pepper-infused-gin Saigon Folly, with lemongrass syrup, crème d'Yvette, and kaffir leaf; and the African-influenced Foreign Legion, a mix of cognac, Demerara syrup, blackberry preserves, and chai red bush tea, which usually goes with fire scotch. If just a single serving's not enough, they're also busting out repurposed absinthe drip fountains to hold seasonal punches that'll be swapped out monthly -- kick off concoctions'll include a pumpkin-infused Flor de cana rum job and another that's absinthe-based -- and arrives with a tray of garnishes (lemons, star anise, freshly grated cinammon...) that drinkers can apply to suit their taste, though if the only drinker is you, you may be accused of having none at all.

A smattering of colonial snacks'll also be on hand, from mini croque monsieurs, to cod fritters, to Vietnamese cha gio spring rolls, to savory tarte flambee's, proving that when the French rule over pizza, the widest load is you.