The Penrose is a long, narrow space with a sinuous, inviting arc, all dark wood and white hexagonal tiles, whose dim interior seems to perpetually hold a bustling crowd.
On a neon-specked stretch of Second Avenue that belies the sleepy reputation of the Upper East Side, the bar offers a destination for the young glitterati who don’t want to travel all the way to Williamsburg to guzzle chichi cocktails and indulge in spirited chatter.
On a recent Wednesday, the door was thrust open again and again to the cool autumn wind, as a seemingly endless array of patrons sought to elevate the evening to something that would make a compelling Instagram story.
The sound of fashionable boots striking the white floor was muted by a staccato prog-rock soundtrack; a young woman in a clinging leather blazer frowned at her companion by the light of a tiny candle and flicked beer foam at his lush red beard.
Steps from the new Second Avenue subway stop, the Penrose rewards those who take advantage of its convenient location with stuporously alcoholic drinks like the Baby Zombie (applejack, pineapple rum, absinthe), served in a mug with the likeness of a glaring bird, or milder concoctions like the Free Thinker (Jameson, pamplemousse liqueur), which slides down as easy as dancing feels to the drunk.
There’s food, too—creamy, cheesy, spicy—including a fried-chicken sandwich that serves as excellent ballast for the booze.