5 Best Cocktail Bars in NYC
There is no place like New York. There is no city that simply radiates true class like this dirty, deranged place that so many of us have come to call our favorite. You can whisk off to Cannes or Monaco, hit the ritziest club in Miami or LA, but it’s impossible to deny that New York does it differently. It’s dark, it’s chic, and when the nighttime comes, there’s nowhere better to revel.
New York is the little black dress of cities, the well-tailored tuxedo, the top-shelf bourbon served neat. The poison ivy, the sleek stiletto, the low and brooding notes of the saxophone. If anything, this city is the one femme fatale who has yet to leave any mercy in her wake.
I never feel as calm or content as I do when I’m sitting in a beyond dimly lit room and sinking into one of the city’s best cocktails. I mourned the losses of Silver Lining and Milk & Honey, but luckily this is the city of abundance and so there’s plenty more. There’s always the hottest bars of the moment, all over every website. But these are my tried and true favorites, which have withstood the test of time, and several, several visits.
1. Dram, Williamsburg
Dram is one of the originals. Based on the current state of Williamsburg, and much of NYC for that matter, it’s been a little tricky trying to separate the good soldiers from the new, annoying riff raff floating amongst our midst. Classy, relaxing ambiance with good, stiff drinks and a strong music selection are constants at Dram. I’ve never had a bad drink there, including each and every time I just get “oh, whatever, just something good, please,” upon which they will happily oblige. Their bar menu is always different, but always unreal. How they make such amazing little bites of food in that teeny-tiny ‘kitchen’ area is beyond me. But I love it.
2. Hotel Delmano, Williamsburg
Another neighborhood staple that is still fighting the good fight is Hotel Delmano, something that seems like a mix between a library, a scene out of Paris’ post-war Belle Époque, and a dream. The high quality of the cocktails are rivaled by the massive wine list, and a delectable collection of food offerings including a raw bar, cheese and charcuterie, and tasty little small plates like anchovy toast and steak tartare. Try the “Letters from Mexico,” tequila, strawberry rhubarb syrup, habanero shrub and lime.
3. Raines Law Room, Flatiron
I came to New York years ago, and this was one of the first places I went. I’m still unable to replace it as a favorite, not that I want to. The ambiance here is New York, whether you’re sitting in the living room area, or back in the “kitchen,” chatting at the counter while the bartender makes you an expertly crafted beverage.
4. Char No. 4, Cobble Hill
Pork and whiskey. Full stop.
5. The Jeffrey… at the base of the Queensboro Bridge. What neighborhood is that?
This is a newcomer and an unexpected choice to this list. But I must include it because I had such a great time there and the cocktails were so good. Jacob the bartender not only made great cocktails but also had made a really great playlist, so I’m sold. At the suggestion of my *highly* intoxicated best friend in the whole world, we entered the bar one Wednesday night around midnight. Why was that necessary? It wasn’t, but we were having a real bacchanal of an evening and decided to go for it. There are two doors, a left and a right. Behind door number right, is an insane craft beer bar with a selection as limitless as Steve Jobs on LSD. Behind door number left was Jacob and his little bar alcove that we would spend the next four hours in.
All I requested was to continue down my path of mezcal that I had started in the early hours of the evening. I had two fantastic cocktails, my friend had many more old fashions, none of which she needed. And then at the end of the evening we were sampling random beers (my favorite of which was smoked. Unreal). We made two new friends that night, one in Jacob the bartender and one in a very friendly and hilarious young real estate agent. We would later meet his brother, smoke his weed, and steal a couple of his mozzarella sticks. I regret to have not meet this new friend earlier in my trip home, but what I’m getting at here is that the cocktails here are good and the bar is a fun place to be. And they have food. (311 East 60th Street, New York.)
(All photos credited in original articles.)