Bars, bars and more bars. Whether you are looking to sip elegant cocktails in a secret den, wish to sample wines from around the world or want to throw back beers and shots at the dirtiest of dives, New York City has every type of place an imbiber might desire. Putting those ideals aside, we have narrowed down some of the swankiest, most unique places to drink in the city — you know, the kind of joint where you might want to propose to your loved one, take your father for his 60th birthday or impress that coworker. From elegant martini service to DIY brunch cocktails, let’s toast to the Big Apple in style.
The elegance of this New Orleans-harking, French-style bistro will have you wanting to settle down for a night of oysters and absinth-tinged cocktails, and that’s before the Old King Cole Martini service takes place. This special offering garnered inspiration from famous New Yorker John Jacob Astor IV, who is responsible for having artist Maxfield Parrish paint the stunning mural Old King Cole for the Knickerbocker Hotel in 1906 (later the painting became part of the St. Regis’ bar, where it still stands today). The Knickerbocker is also where one of the first versions of the martini supposedly was created. For the presentation at Maison Premiere, someone comes to your table with a sterling silver tray laden with high-end martini-making goodies. Classically, they serve Old Raj Dry Gin, but if you must have your martini with vodka, they can do that, too. Then, right before your eyes, the liquor is mixed with Dolin vermouth and poured on the rocks or into a chilled crystal martini glass. Order it with an olive, a twist or both if you are feeling extra frisky.
The best time to drink in chef Ed Cotton’s darling Italian restaurant in the West Village is at brunch, when you can comfortably curl up in one of the rustic, rounded booths with their latest offering — a do-it-yourself prosecco bar. Skip a single glass and order a whole bottle of bubbles; you certainly will want to once you start playing with the array of fresh juices and accoutrements the restaurant offers on the tray. Want a mimosa? Sure, just add a bit of fresh-squeezed blood orange juice to the mix. For those looking for more of a spritz, the service also includes a little carafe of Aporel, which you can add solo or combine with a bit of candied ginger or lychee juice. You can mix your bubbles with fig liquor, pomegranate juice and fresh berries as well. The sky is truly the limit until your bottle runs dry.
The NoMad Bar
It’s not surprising that one of the most put-together spaces in the city comes from the hands of Eleven Madison Park team members Daniel Humm and Will Guidara. At this latest venture in the NoMad Hotel, they have taken the skills of bar director Leo Robitschek to create a sensual drinking den that feels like a library mixed with a proper English lounge and old-school boys club. (Of course, if you want to officially be schooled in all things spirited, stop by Library, the hotel’s two-level haven for bookworms and bar connoisseurs.) The NoMad Bar crowd imbibing in the plush green booths or perched at the wide mahogany bar isn’t just suit-wearing men, but a mix of gourmands, guests of the hotel and all sorts of people simply seeking a superb cocktail (Satan’s Circus is rye, Thai bird chili-infused Aperol, lime and cherry herring) and a small bite to eat. And for serious drinkers, the real trick is ordering one of the large-format beverages for the whole table or a reserve cocktail, which gets crafted with rare spirits and tastes like heaven.
Saxon + Parole
Why wait for the bartender to make you a drink when you can have one pre-made, bottled and waiting for you with your name on it? Each month at AvroKO Hospitality Group’s trendy NoHo restaurant, barman Masa Urushido researches a historical drink and mixes it up just for you as a part of the Cocktail Cabinet program. Should you become a member — monthly, quarterly and annual commitments are available — you will be able to read about the drink on a description card when you get your bottle at the bar, and settle in for a glass or two before having them catalog it away until next time. (Each bottle has about 10 drinks’ worth.) In the past, Urushido has done the Greenpoint, made with the local Aviation Gin, special lemon-thyme syrup and Dolin blanc; and the tequila-based Flor de Mayo made with Herradura Reposado, Noilly Prat ambre vermouth, house-made marigold-agave syrup, fresh lime and orange bitters. Each cocktail subscription comes with a 16-ounce, personalized bottle and a description of the drink.