Where to Drink in NYC Now
From an oyster-and-cocktail bar aboard a 140-foot schooner on the Hudson River to a tropical pop up in Nolita and rooftop charmer overlooking Central Park, NYC has a stellar line up of new summer drinking spots. Nikki Ridgway rounds up eight of the best
La Isla Escondida | Nolita
In the back yard of Nolita’s Mulberry Project, this shape-shifting 900-square-foot space has dismantled the heated tents and bootlegger style of its winter bar, Project 1919, and replaced it with a sunny ode to the tropics now called La Isla Escondida (“the hidden isle”). It's open until 1 a.m. all week long, and mixologists Sam Ziar (of the Bourgeois Pig) and Jasper Soffer (Pegu Club) have devised a sweet summertime menu featuring such cocktails as the Blossom Mule, made with maraschino liqueur, sake, ginger beer, fresh lime and Pechaud's bitters, and spiked slush drinks. Snack on Latin-flavored dishes or go on a Sunday for the weekly pig roast.
La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels | Soho
Experimental Cocktail Club’s Romée de Goriainoff scores his second successful import with this handsome little wine bar, opened on Soho’s southern flank in April this year. Like its Parisian namesake, there’s a serious 21-page wine list (and an obliging staff to help you navigate it), handsome marble and mahogany interiors, and a rich small plates menu from Alain Ducasse alum Armand Arnal and ex-Telepan chef Tibor Kogler. Share the homemade charcuterie platters of duck liver confit and chicken liver mousse, and nibble on pickled beets and raisins, but insist on your own order of the toad in a hole — a duck egg, truffle butter, mushroom and ham concoction held in place with smoky sourdough.
The Pavilion | Union Square
Seven years after summertime staple Luna Park closed its café umbrellas, alfresco drinking returns to this north Union Square patch as the Pavilion. Nestled among the busy greenmarket, the crowds of teens and wandering tourists, the indoor-outdoor space feels like a classy gallic transplant, decked out with bistro-style round tables, oversize orange umbrellas and installation-like chandeliers. The star of the show, however, is the long, backlit bar, where mixologist Joel Cruz uses market ingredients to prepare cocktails like the Pink Me Up, a sweet mix of tequila blanco, chartreuse, strawberry, basil and lemon, and the signature Pavilion 75. Brunch is now served until 5 p.m. on weekends, and last orders are taken at 11 p.m. all week long.
Nitecap | Lower East Side
The latest venture from Death & Co. founders David Kaplan and Alex Day, Nitecap is a late-late-night drinking den in the basement of LES favorite Schapiro’s. Accessed through a private side entrance, it has interiors that nail “subterranean speakeasy” in a mix of exposed brick, Art Deco lamps and merlot-colored booths. Head bartender and Maison Premiere alum Natasha David devised the playful six-part cocktail menu, which includes “Wash It Down” libations such as the Rib Tickler, which is made with vermouth, suze, St. Germain, lemon and seltzer, and “Early Evening” concoctions including the Pinkies Out and Mull It Over. There are seven options for grazing (pretzels, artichoke dip, seasonal pickles and more) and limited edition menus designed by local artists, but Nitecap won our wee hours devotion with the Honor Bar, an invitation to grab a bottle from behind the bar and pay “by the finger” for whatever you consume. Just don’t ask for mixers.
Cafe El Presidente | Flatiron
A new Flatiron favorite at 24th Street and 6th Avenue, Café El Presidente borrows its marketplace layout from nearby Italian megaplex Eataly and infuses the lofty space with a playful but utilitarian look courtesy bright signage and strip lighting, as well as tile floors imported from Mérida and high bar stools. Skip the Veracruz-style coffee and pastry bar and claim your spot at the cocktail counter, where creations like the Paloma (tequila, grapefruit and lime), Smoke Coke (Coke Classico, mezcal and bitters) and Spiked Horchata (housemade horchata with dark rum) attract postwork crowds. And if “a quick drink” turns into an evening session, supplement the cocktail calories with sharable four-taco platters or individual orders of crispy fish, black bean and sweet potato, and delicious roast pork.
The Roof at the Viceroy New York | Midtown
On a regenerating strip of West 57th Street, the Roof opened atop the Viceroy New York hotel in March this year. A complement to Marc Murphy’s street-level restaurant Kingside, plus designer Roman and Williams's clubby Deco interiors, the 2,400-square-foot indoor/outdoor space has the vibe of a gentlemen’s lounge from another era, with brass accents, custom walnut and leather sofas and nature images by photographer Dalton Portella. Open year-round from 3 p.m. to 4 a.m., the bar is stocked with small batch spirits and regionally brewed craft beers, plus inventive cocktails including the GG Manhattan, Spicy Paloma and Sidecar F1, all made with fresh market ingredients. There’s a short bar snacks menu (burgers, charcuterie boards and a decadent grilled cheese) provided by Kingside, but most patrons (and hotel guests, who are given priority) make this an after-dinner destination to admire the city lights until the wee hours.
The Garret | West Village
A newbie from Hotel Chantelle owner Kyle O’Brien, the Garret fashions itself a “refined drinking establishment,” albeit one you enter through a Five Guys burger joint at 7th Avenue and Barrow Street. The artist loft look pairs leather armchairs and a faux fireplace with wrought iron bar stools and original works by New York artists, but the space doesn’t take itself too seriously: The “signature” Two Lime Crew cocktail is vodka, soda and, yep, two limes, and the dizzying doorknob installation piece in the bathroom is like a helpful sobriety gauge after one too many Rosarita Stick Ups.
Grand Banks | Hudson River
After a four-year hiatus from New York, Brooklyn restaurateur Mark Firth (Diner, Marlow & Sons) is back on home turf to launch the oyster-and-cocktails joint Grand Banks. And what’s better than having Firth back in the city? Having his first Manhattan venture aboard the 140-foot wooden schooner Sherman Zwicker. Moored at the southwest corner of Pier 25 on the Hudson River, the three-month-long popup opens its decks on June 1 and will serve a seafood lover’s feast of oysters harvested everywhere from Southampton to Oyster Bay Harbor, as well as olive oil–poached salt cod on toast, hush puppies and more. No word on the cocktail menu yet, but we’re hoping for rum-based concoctions to pair with sea chantey sessions and sunset views.
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