With so many wonderful places popping up in New York City, it’s hard to choose where to go for a drink. Do you want something super classy concocted by a bartender who knows more about gin than you thought was humanly possible? Or maybe you were leaning towards a laid-back space with elevated tipples and a chill vibe? No matter your pleasure, these new spots offer a fresh experience, skilled bar men and women, superb drinks and a place to call home — at least until closing time.
Is The Bennett a name of a hip new cocktail bar in Tribeca or a type of gimlet? In this case, both. Brought to you by Yves Jadot, Meaghan Dorman and Alberto Benenati, the team behind other popular spots like The Raines Law Room and Dear Irving, this cozy, narrow bar opened at the end of 2015. Take one of the 12 seats at the marble-topped bar or park yourself in a plush, blue booth against the gold-bedazzled wall. Next, try one of the 16 house specialties like the Reverse Monarch (gin, white vermouth and cucumber shrub) or the Bergdorf Lunch (pisco, elderflower, green apple and pear juices and orange blossom spritz).
If none of those options really speak to you, ask to see the Audience Awards menu, a list of the best drinks from the group’s other bars. And yes, they do have The Bennett (gin, lime cordial and bitters) on the menu. For food options, go for the plate of New York cheeses, cauliflower croquettes, grilled quail skewers or ricotta beignets.
Solomon & Kuff
This Harlem venture is named after the sons of Venture Smith, an enslaved African who was purchased for a few bottles of rum but went on to buy freedom for himself and his family. As an ode to its namesakes, Solomon & Kuff specializes in rum, carrying over 100 international types.
Bar man Karl Franz works the cocktail magic, and has created a unique menu highlighting this liquor. Three libations that speak to the man’s skills behind the bar are the Venture’s Punch (a mixture of Jamaican rum, Aricole, lime, bitters and nutmeg); the Re-Fashioned (rum, Benedictine and apple bitters); and their special Dark and Stormy (light and dark rum and house-crafted ginger beer).
Sip one of these masterpieces in the rustic, 5,000-square-foot space that looks like a posh salon doubling as a Havana watering hole. Aside from drinks, the place also has two elevated DJ booths, a dining area for the Caribbean-inspired eats and a lounge.
Last September, AvroKO Hospitality Group opened up this whimsical basement bar in Little Italy. But just because the spot has a California-dive-bar-meets-spirited-bodega vibe, that doesn’t mean the cocktail roster isn’t top notch. After all, famed bar man Eben Freeman (one of the originators of the whole “mixology” craze) is behind the program. Plus, he has access to nearly 750 bottles of spirits.
The other thing that makes this space so unique is its Cha-Chunker, a special machine that has a metal tip that widens the hole in any canned beverage. With this tool, Freeman created a way to dump a mini bottle of booze into cans of, say, Coke or ginger ale to create fun, one-of-a-kind new drinks. These lowbrow cocktails are then garnished and plopped with a straw.
Another neat feature to this bar is its bottle program. Simply pick whichever spirit you want and that bottle is yours for as long as you like, whether you want to make your own drinks or have the bartender whip up something. All you have to do is pay per ounce, so there are no worries about finishing the whole thing.
The cocktail world was saddened last year with the loss of Sasha Petraske, the man many people claim started the cocktail revival back in 2000 with Chinatown’s Milk & Honey. Lucky for us, his last project, Seaborne, opened in early 2016 under the skilled hands of Lucinda Sterling, one of his disciples. Sterling is also a partner at another Petraske creation, Middle Branch, in Midtown.
Middle Branch and Seaborne are vastly different, though. The latter is in Red Hook, that distant, almost-resort-feeling area of Brooklyn where so many amazing establishments have landed. Like other Petraske projects, Seaborne features an elegant, intimate space that’s filled with clean lines and stylish barware. Honor the late cocktail pioneer with a drink at the cozy address that has a water fountain and enough barstools and snug booths for 35 patrons.
Downstairs of Roxy Hotel you will find this jazz club with a superb cocktail program. Many of the drinks here even tip a hat to musical greats, like the Chet Baker, a rum-filled winner muddled with sweet vermouth and honey. If that isn’t quite music to your ears, you’ll also find a solid list of staples like the French 75, negroni and a stiff gin martini — all playfully done and perfect companions with the bar’s live funk, jazz quartets and DJ sessions. Nibble on smoked, fried fava beans, fresh oysters, Welsh rarebit and chocolate mousse between sets.
Overseeing the Tribeca venue are veteran bar men Vito Dieterle and Joseph Schwartz, who own Little Branch in the West Village. With vaulted ceilings, vintage lighting fixtures and a cool, comfortable energy, this cellar bar proves another winner from the duo. The only catch: make a reservation as seating is limited.