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Designing a Bar at the Edge of Space and Time

Welcome to "In the Details,” a series on the unique features that give some of America's most interesting bars their character. First up, the odd collection of retro coasters at Bushwick's sci-fi bar, Jupiter Disco.

American designer Charles Eames once noted, “the details are not the details. They make the design.”

It’s a sentiment that rings especially true in the bar world today, wherein ice is regularly hand-carved, glassware is bespoke and even cocktail menus are carefully designed entities in their own right. Oftentimes, these spaces are brimming with so many subtleties that if you blink, you might miss them.

To look closely is no easy task in the near-darkness of Jupiter Disco, an unmarked, sci-fi-themed cocktail bar plopped down in the middle of Bushwick, Brooklyn, whose anachronistic-meets-futuristic interior is illuminated only by the dim glare of neon LEDs. But to do so is to be rewarded with a carefully curated world of hidden treasures.

Owners Al Sotack and Maks Pazuniak spent years crafting the narrative behind the bar well before they even owned the space, which left plenty of time to scavenge for the vintage bric-a-brac that lines the walls. Retro TV monitors, radios and reel-to-reels are cobbled together in a way that recalls the improvised, industrial luxury of the fictional world of Mad Max, or the famous Mos Eisley bar in Star Wars, a print of which hangs beneath a monitor displaying the cocktail menu.

“Our inspiration…was science fiction—particularly the sort of dying sun, end-of-time stories we both loved,” explains Sotack.

One detail, however, feels less in line with this otherworldly theme: the bar’s collection of coasters, a motley assortment of vintage beer and spirits ads from across the globe. On a recent visit, my cocktail arrived on the unlikely vehicle of a hockey puck-shaped coaster with Wayne Gretzky’s signature scrawled across it.

“It made sense that the bar at the edge of space and time would have random bar coasters from different decades in different styles,” explains Sotack. “They would use whatever they could get their hands on. Which is what we did.”

When set in the context of the bar’s foraged decor, the seemingly arbitrary decision to stock vintage coasters becomes another piece in the puzzle of the bar’s attention to detail. Like finding a hidden Easter egg in a game of Space Invaders, part of the allure of Jupiter Disco is its commitment to illuminating the obscured.

The Coasters at Jupiter Disco

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