Cocoa Bar: Equal Parts Coffee Shop and Wine Bar

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Coffee shop by day, wine bar by night, Cocoa Bar (19 Clinton St.) is the best of both worlds. My first visit was at night. The velvet drapes and simple furniture were a cozy backdrop to a friend’s small birthday get together. We chose to sit at the café bar where reds, whites and a variety of beer are served alongside coffee, espresso drinks and lattes. Some nights, live music sets the tone as patrons mingle, relax and enjoy the company of those around them.

During the day, the Lower East Side rarity takes on the personality of an independent coffee shop. The lattes are strong and the attitude is unassuming.

On my second visit to Cocoa Bar — this time on a Saturday afternoon — I sidled up once again to the diner-like bar and ordered a delicious, appropriately caffeinated vanilla latte. The woman next to me was working away on her computer, with folders and papers spread out around here as she listened to her own tunes on her headphones. She couldn’t help but hum along and mouth the words, but in a way quite respectful of the rest of us.

I chose to settle into my caffeine cocktail with a good book, losing myself in it until the coffee bean aroma inevitably drew me out of my literary world once more. The music was interesting, but enjoyable. My favorite part about it was the anticipation of what song would be next in the stream of random music to my ears. Sinatra spiraled into some new age jazz tune, which eventually morphed into a Beatles love medley. The live music on this particular night started at 8 p.m., about the time at which Cocoa Bar makes the turn from day to night.

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