Harrison Snow started barting at age 18 in Providence, RI. Nearly three years later, in 2020, he was behind the bar at the Paris Seaport Bar & Creperie in Boston. That job turned out to be a stroke of luck, as the restaurant’s cocktail list was overseen by a man always dressed in retro sports shirts and porkpie hats, known all over town as Brother Cleve. A musician and DJ of local fame, he was the recognized godfather of the city’s cocktail scene.
Brother Cleve hadn’t hired Mr. Snow, but he liked what he saw. “I was impressed by his knowledge of contemporary techniques and spirits, as well as classic cocktails,” he said. “I saw a lot of myself in him.”
Mr. Snow was also impressed. So when he and his business partner, Jake Hodas, decided to open their own bar, Lullaby, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he knew he had to get Brother Cleve involved.
“He’s the image of our cocktail concept — what we’re trying to do with style of service, our culture, our music, our atmosphere,” said Mr. snow. “Brother Cleve embodied all of that.” Brother Cleve — who at 66 is a few generations ahead of Mr. Snow, 23, and Mr. Hodas, 24 — signed up as a partner.
Lullaby, scheduled for February 1, gives Brother Cleve his first bar job outside of Boston. He will be in the bar at least once a month, and also as a DJ.
Born Robert Toomey, Brother Cleve grew up in a cocktail-drinking family (mom, daiquiri; dad, Rob Roy; grandma, manhattan) in Medford, Massachusetts, half a dozen miles northwest of Boston.
His unusual nickname came partly from his involvement with the Church of the SubGenius, a parody religion founded in Dallas in the 1970s, and partly from an on-air personality he took on as a radio host in Boston. In the 1980s, he began touring the country as a keyboardist with several bands, most notably Combustible Edison and the Del Fuegos. He ordered cocktails at every diner, restaurant, bar or club and over the years, drink by drink, he became an expert.
By the mid-1990s, his cocktail acumen was on par with his musical bonafides. A Boston Globe article published in 1999 called him “the only DJ in town who can mix music and a martini at the same time.” In 1998, he was called upon to help open Cambridge’s B-Side Lounge, which would help usher in the city’s cocktail revival. He’s been a regular at the Boston bar ever since.
Lullaby is an amalgamation of the different passions of the three partners. mr. Snow, like Brother Cleve, is a cocktail nerd, while Mr. Hodas loves dive bars. That made the basement space at 151 Rivington Street perfectly adequate. It was once a dive site, simply called 151 Rivington, and most recently it housed cocktail den Nitecap, which closed in 2020.
The menu, created by Brother Cleve and Mr. Snow, will be a mix of sophisticated and casual. There will be an alcoholic version of the soft-serve Dole Whip dessert served at Walt Disney parks, as well as Spanish vermouth on tap and longnecks of Lone Star beer. The cocktails (most cost $15) have functional names, such as the Rum Drink and the Whiskey Drink, which belie their complex composition. (The Whiskey Drink contains whiskey, oloroso sherry, mascarpone cheese, parsley, lime and agave syrup.)
The bar’s soft name is partly a tribute to Nitecap. “It has a connotation of convenience,” Mr. Hodas said. Brother Cleve took that idea further, linking it to 151 Rivington, a name that also evokes a powerful style of overproof rum.
“Lullaby following Nitecap, which is your last drink of the night,” he said. “Before that, if you drink 151, you’ll just pass out at the bar.”