Now, granted, the Zig Zag doesn't have a line of folks waiting for its doors to open at 5 as it did during the latter part of Stenson's storied tenure. But that's not such a bad thing. While there have reportedly been nights recently where the bar has been deader than Reagan, on Tuesday night a crowd of half a dozen patrons tripled between 5 and 6 p.m. And with its dark red tones, jazzy soundtrack, and spare decor, the Zig Zag feels more like itself when it's not bursting at the seams with hipster thrill seekers.
The house drink menu has been tweaked a little, but the bar remains as experimental as any in town, and the bartenders' propensity to let customers sample liquors they're unfamiliar with continues unabated. Last night, a sip of Bonal (fortified French wine that tastes a bit like brandy, to oversimplify the description) led to the ordering of a Charlie Baker, on happy hour (5-7) special for $6 instead of $10. And a zippy Champs Elysees made wise use of green chartreuse.
But the important thing to remember is the bar is staffed by bartenders who worked alongside Stenson. They're his proteges. And while no one is Mur the Blur's equal, his successors are pretty goddamn great at what they do.
Really, the only thing that's changed about the Zig Zag since Stenson left is that Stenson's no longer there. That's unfortunate, but far from fatal. And the nice thing is you can actually get a seat at the bar again without having to hip-check someone for it.