18 September 2013

Bex's Guide to NYC: Top 10 New York Cocktails

It's time for the third part of my guide to NYC. If you missed my round-ups of my top ten coffee bars and top ten burgers in the city, check them out now, because it's cocktail o'clock. Most of my favourite places to get a cocktail in New York are of the secret-speakeasy variety. I love the contrast of a superbly mixed drink and an unexpected location. That said, I never tire of the New York skyline, so a couple of the bars on this list are on rooftops that offer a superb view of the cityscape, as well as an excellent cocktail. Although I often have a cocktail with dinner when I'm on holiday, these venues are all about the drinks.

Employees Only (West Village). This West Village bar, tucked away behind a psychic and a velvet curtain, is where bartenders go on their night off, hence the name. Since my first visit, some six years ago, I've been back on countless occasions. I love the typography and I love the drinks. The Ginger Smash and the Fraise Sauvage are my favourites. 510 Hudson Street bet. West 10th & Christopher. Mini-reviews here and here. Website. Twitter.

Huckleberry Bar (Williamsburg). Manhattan has great cocktail bars, but sometimes you just want something a little more chilled out — a cool but intimate neighbourhood bar with great drinks. Or, as Huckleberry Bar puts it, "fancy without the fussy." At Huckleberry, you can chatter away for hours with the friendly and knowledgeable bar staff. Oh, and they do all sorts of fun events, including Monday night movie nights. Last time, I ordered the citrusy, gingery Article 57, which was gorgeous. 588 Grand Street nr Lorimer. Mini-reviewWebsite. Twitter.

Back Room (Lower East Side). You have to work a little bit to find The Back Room, tucked away behind a gate with a sign for the LES Toy Company, and at the other end of a dingy alley, but it's worth the effort when you reach the secret speakeasy. Cocktails in dainty teacups and brown-bagged beer bottles, it's like 1930 all over again. They have great music, spanning the decades, and an even more secret back room for VIPs. Very cool indeed. 102 Norfolk Street nr Delancey. Mini-reviewTwitter.

Mother's Ruin (NoLIta). An effortlessly cool neighbourhood bar, Mother's Ruin serves great cocktails, as well as "everyday edibles" and "bitchin' brunch." They change up the cocktails a lot, but I enjoyed the Sí Punch, in all its tropical glory. Mother's Ruin is a lovely, intimate place to enjoy a fantastic cocktail. 18 Spring Street bet. Mott & Elizabeth. Mini-reviewWebsite.

Little Branch (West Village). Once you've found the unmarked door on Seventh Avenue, head downstairs to the basement of Little Branch for some serious cocktails. The place is usually pretty busy, but it's worth the crowd. 20 Seventh Avenue South @ Leroy. More info.

Pegu Club (SoHo). With its old-school chic, the Pegu Club is a very civilised place to sip a cocktail. Or five. They offer a whole book of classic and signature cocktails, and in no time, you'll feel a million miles — and a hundred years — away from the hustle and bustle of SoHo. 77 West Houston Street (2nd floor) nr West Broadway. Website.

Salon De Ning (Midtown). It's worth a trip to Ning, the bar on the 23rd floor of the swanky Peninsula just to get the chance to slink through the lobby and ride in the sexy lift. The drinks aren't cheap at Ning, and you are, to some extent, paying for the stunning view over Fifth Avenue. That said, you do get plenty of nibbles thrown in, and my Ninglet (Hendricks gin, St Germain elderflower liquor and fresh lime) was excellent. Stylish, sexy and very impressive. 700 Fifth Avenue (23rd floor) @ 55th St. Website.

Elsa (East Village). We came to Elsa after failing to get into the overly busy PDT, but we didn't regret it. It's light, airy and elegant inside, with its white walls and exposed light bulbs. The cocktail menu takes a while to process, because of the really interesting drinks available. They change the menu seasonally, but when I was last there, the drinks took inspiration from books and movies. I ordered the Plan To Get Even — not just because I liked the name — and it was delicious and refreshing. 217 East Third Street bet. Bowery & 2nd Ave. Mini-reviewWebsite.

B Flat (TriBeCa). B Flat is a cool, jazz-themed basement bar. It's dark and intimate, with comfy booths, and live jazz on Mondays and Wednesdays. The Autumn Leaves cocktail left this B anything but flat, but if I go back, I want to try the Enigma and the Lush Life. 227 Church Street @ White. Mini-reviewWebsite. Twitter.

Bookmarks (Midtown). Another hotel rooftop bar, this time on the 14th floor of the lovely Library Hotel. Bookmarks is the perfect place for a literary-themed cocktail. If the weather is being kind, you can also sit out on the rooftop terrace and enjoy the incredible view of Midtown.  299 Madison Avenue @ 41st St. Website.

New York has a lot of great places to get a cocktail, so here are three others that remain on my to-do list:
  • Gin Palace (East Village). Gin and tonic on tap! Fancy G and Ts! All sorts of other gin-friendly cocktails. You are probably starting to understand why I want to go. 95 Avenue A nr East 6th St. WebsiteTwitter.
  • Mulberry Project (Little Italy). Numerous friends have recommended this subterranean cocktail bar to me. Maybe next time? 149 Mulberry Street nr Grand. WebsiteTwitter.
  • Please Don't Tell (East Village). A secret bar, which you enter through the phone booth inside Crif Dogs. Great cocktails, but unless you go really early, you have to book. One day I will make it there! 113 St Mark's Place bet. 1st Ave & Ave A. Website. Twitter.

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