Union Square’s newest bar Jelas isn’t your typical spot to head to for drinks before a night out on the town–their menu is hyper-specific and focuses on one thing: milk punch cocktails.
Jelas, which means “clear” in the Malay language, translates throughout the entire space and is an ode to their cocktails, small plates menu, and décor.
But what they’re slinging behind the bar is what we have our eye on–and it’ll have you coming back for more.
The cocktail menu consists of five rotating milk punch cocktails, made primarily from ingredients that have gone through milk wash clarification.
Clarified milk punch is made by combining milk and alcohol, and then clarifying the mixture to remove the solid particles from the milk, either by straining the drink through a cheesecloth or by using a centrifuge.
“Creating clarified milk punch is a laborious, multi-pronged process, so we wanted to have a space that could deliver beverages that are precise and approachable,” says Colin Stevens, Co-Founder and Head Bartender at Jelas.
“Milk washed spirits and milk punch cocktails date back to the 1910s, originating from Great Britain. In the last decade or so, the process has been further refined and elevated by Singaporean bartenders. That interconnected history inspired us to create Jelas to showcase creativity and the exciting, dynamic Southeast Asian flavors that are emerging from award-winning distilleries in the region.”
Stevens is focusing on the flavor profiles of Southeast Asia, and on the menu bar-goers will find the Vietnamese Coffee, a creamy concoction of three blends of coffee, the Singapore Sling, clarified milk punch with a fruit forward finish, The Margarita, a riff of a classic with Sichuan pepper and jasmine tea, and the New York Sour, a whiskey sour with red wine foam, among other cocktails.
The “clear” theme follows through to Jelas’ small plates menu, which consists of a Vietnamese-style Summer Roll, Glass Noodles in Chilli Oil, Har Gow Crystal Dumplings, and a booze-infused Agar-Agar, or coconut jelly, dessert.
As for the space itself, it’s a stand-up bar that fits about 12 people.
The décor, of course, also embraces the clear theme, featuring stunning crystal decanters and diamond cut chandeliers. But subtle brass finishes throughout create the ultimate intimate space that any New Yorker would love to find themselves lost in–especially on a chilly winter night.
NYC may be crawling with bars, but the new year is all about trying new things, and we’re not sure about you, but we can’t say we’ve ever tried a milk punch cocktail!
Jelas opened this past Tuesday, January 3rd, in Union Square. It’s located at 17 East 13th Street and is open seven days a week, from 5:30p.m. to midnight.