PDT (Speakeasy-Style Lounge)
113 St. Marks Pl., New York, NY
PDT is the hot-dog joint for grown-ups. Actually, it’s the cocktail-lounge annex to Crif Dogs, an East Village mainstay known for its deep-fried Jersey-style franks. Accessed through a vintage phone booth within Crif Dogs, PDT (short for Please Don’t Tell) is a snug speakeasy with a twist: Along with its high-quality classic cocktails and a well-chosen selection of beer and wine, patrons can order food from Crif’s kitchen next door.
Kingston Hall (Caribbean-Inspired Cocktail Bar)
149 Second Ave., New York, NY
Don’t look for Bob Marley tapestries or limbo contests here. Kingston Hall is meant to evoke the Caribbean islands’ grand postcolonial style of the mid-sixties. The space, founded by the team behind Ninth Ward and Shoolbred’s, has high, trussed ceilings, fabric-lined walls, a handsome billiards table, two working fireplaces, vintage Bond posters, and a cocktail menu filled with rummy riffs on the kind of drinks that are usually embellished with paper umbrellas. Try the Drunken Coconut ($13): fresh coconut water and Appleton Gold Rum in a coconut shell that’s had its top hacked off by a machete-wielding employee.
The Frying Pan (Bar in Docked Lightboat)
Pier 66, at 26th St. and the West Side Highway, New York, NY
Built in 1929, this historic lightship (one of the few remaining) is said to have spent three years at the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay before being salvaged and brought to Chelsea Piers to become the ultimate waterfront bar. The boat, docked on a railroad car barge, boasts a musty, barnacle-encrusted interior, complete with catwalks and an exposed engine room. The far end of the barge often serves as a moody D.J. lounge and stage for live acts. Booze and burgers are served up on the pier, and a sixteen-foot observation plank offers a fantastic view of activities on the Hudson.
Little Branch (Old-Time Cocktails)
20 Seventh Ave. S., at Leroy St., New York, NY
The third arm of hallowed drinkslinger Sasha Petraske’s empire is a kinder, gentler, larger permutation of its predecessor Milk & Honey: The bartenders wear suspenders, the rules forbid talking loudly or misbehaving, the walls are a warm shade of mustard, and the low ceilings are made from orange-painted sheets of corrugated steel. An old stand-up piano occasionally used by jazz trios also lightens up the subterranean location. Most important, the mixology is rigorous: The staff arrives two hours ahead of opening to squeeze fresh juice, chill glasses, and cut blocks of ice (to keep the drinks from diluting quickly). Name your favorite liquor and they’ll give you an encyclopedic list of old-fashioned cocktails and egg flips that incorporate it.
Death + Co. (Cocktail Bar)
1433 E. 6th St., New York, NY
No, the grim reaper isn’t a partner at this cozy boîte. The proprietors are David Kaplan and Bourgeois Pig owner Ravi DeRossi. Nevertheless, the cocktails are serious. Martinis are served in six-ounce glasses with the remainder poured into iced carafes to stay chilled; smoky, fragrant Oaxaca Old-Fashioneds are made from reposado tequila, mezcal, and agave nectar, then finished off with a flamed orange twist. If you’re unwilling to wait for such concoctions—many are stirred 40 to 50 times and taste-tested by the barkeeps a priori—the bar stocks an array of rare, aged brown liquors. Woody, understated classicism is the look of the place, with tucked suede banquettes under black-granite tables, lit by crystal chandeliers.
Booker & Dax at Momofuko Ssäm Bar (Innovative Cocktails)
207 Second Ave., New York, NY
It’s pretty much everything you expected from the people who brought you cereal-milk soft serves and crack pie. Officially under the guidance of Dave Arnold (who partnered with David Chang), it nonetheless keeps true to Momofuku style. Communal tables are available, but the prime seats are at the bar, watching the bartender chill your glass with a smoking wisp of liquid nitrogen or firing up a glass of cognac with a 1,500-degree hot poker. Fortunately, behind all these gadgets is quality and not gimmick.
The Bar Downstairs (Basement Cocktail Bar)
485 Fifth Ave., New York, NY
Sometimes it feels like practically every unmarked door in the city leads to a secret bar, but the Bar Downstairs—which, yes, is through a hotel lobby, down an out-of-the-way staircase, behind a minimalist placard—is less a secret than it is merely elegantly discreet. On the lower level of the Andaz Fifth Avenue, the huge, dark-walled, perfectly lit room is anchored by an airy cooking and drink-making space. Mixologists trained by Alchemy Consulting banter with chefs, guests, and one another while shaking up original (but classically minded) cocktails like the Taken to Task (vodka, lemon juice, orange bitters, and seasonal berries) or the aptly named Mexican Firing Squad (Herradura Blanco Tequila, lime, pomegranate molasses, and Angostura bitters).
Raines Law Room (Speakeasy-Style)
48 W. 17th St., New York, NY
This speakeasy in Chelsea is named for an 1896 law meant to curb New Yorkers’ liquor consumption. Past a door buzzer and a discerning host is the windowless space, which nails a sumptuous twenties vibe (Chesterfield furniture, turn-of-the-century wall hangings, and a few bona fide antiques sprinkled in). The cocktail list is packed full of creative, retro numbers like the Arsenic & New Lace (gin, Lillet, creme de violette, absinthe) and the Spyglass (rum, orgeat, lemon juice, and Champagne). You’ll have to arrive early to land one of the private tables surrounded by velvet couches and black gauze curtains: Each comes equipped with a wall buzzer to call your waitress when you need her.
304 E. 6th St., New York, NY
The mixology masters behind Death & Company set their sights south of the border with Mayahuel, their East Village homage to mezcal and tequila. The dimly lit cocktail den more closely resembles a Mexican monastery than a Cinco de Mayo fiesta, with dark wooden nooks and a row of bar stools cozied up to backlit shelves encouraging quiet conversation. While the upstairs space gets a bit rowdier, with leather booths and red stained-glass lighting lending a rosy glow to the low-ceilinged room, the downstairs area highlights Mayahuel’s main focus: the drinks. For $13 to $14 a pop, this is agave like you’ve never seen it before, with apple cider, cinnamon bark, lemon, and peychaud bitters; mixed with pomegranate molasses and lime; and stirred up with strawberry and elderflower in a single serving of sangria.
The Rum House (Classic Cocktail Lounge)
228 W. 47th St., New York, NY
The guys behind Tribeca mixology haven Ward III have revived Rum House, midtown’s newest old watering hole. The red-walled and wood-paneled drinking den is accented with nightly piano playing, while the space has been elevated beyond its former existence as a simple, pre-theater hotel bar to a classic cocktail lounge swathed in leather banquettes and lit by glowing candles, obfuscating the hustle of Times Square, which is just around the corner. The cocktails also don't disappoint: classic and strong, and heavy on craftsmanship. The intrigue is found in subtle details, like the burnt orange zest in the smoky Scotch-based Barrymore.
Dream Downtown (Chic Bars)
355 W. 16th St., New York, NY
This sceney Chelsea hotel offers the complete decadent party experience in one building. In the basement: a shabby-chic dance spot, Electric Room, the kind of place where you might spill your beer on a celebrity who’s there to D.J. On the ground floor: Marble Lane, a sleek restaurant at which to impress your prospective client or romantic partner over steaks prepared by Mike Armstrong of Tao Las Vegas. From there, a mirrored elevator rises to PH-D, a rooftop club with unobstructed views of the Empire State Building that attracts the most glittering of the glitterati.
Bemelmans Bar (Classic New York/High-End)
35 E. 76th St., New York, NY
Nowhere is the discreet charm of the bourgeoisie more palpable than in this bastion of post-war decadence: think white-jacket waiters, 24-karat-gold-leaf ceilings, and nickel-trimmed glass tables splayed around the ivories. Settle into a leather banquette and order something strong and adventurous—perhaps with Champagne and cognac or fresh mint and muddled lemons. Murals of frolicking animals painted by bar namesake and former Carlyle Hotel resident Ludwig Bemelmans offer a whimsical counterpoint to what might otherwise be suffocating sophistication. Feel an extra boost knowing you're enjoying pretty much the same thing as the folks across the lobby at Café Carlyle, for a fraction of the cover.
Nougatine (Daytime Cocktails/High-End)
The Terrace at Jean-Georges, 1 Central Park W., New York, NY
With day drinking comes some rather unsavory connotations, usually involving insobriety in a dark, grimy watering hole. Reclaim the venerated pastime with a cocktail at the revamped and now airily streamlined Nougatine, Jean Georges’s more casual sister space. Daily from 11:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., settle in at the Modernist, metallic-accented bar and ask one of the vested, old-school bartenders to fix you a raspberry-litchi Bellini ($18) or JG G&T with Reisetbauer Blue gin—the point here is sophisticated grandeur, not “mixology.” While you drink, eavesdrop on the power players down a stool or two and peep at Central Park passersby out the huge wall of windows.
Campbell Apartment (Historic)
Grand Central Terminal, 15 Vanderbilt Ave., New York, NY
Tucked away in Grand Central Station, this classy lounge is the restored private office of early twentieth-century tycoon John W. Campbell. On weeknights, the 2,000-square-foot space is a bit overrun with commuters grabbing a Prohibition Punch or the Kentucky Ginger before catching the train home. It’s more fun to go on the weekends or closer to closing time when you can get a seat and sip your Scotch while you pretend you’re in a Hemingway novel. You can also nosh on a small list of pricey “cocktail accompaniments,” like the artisanal-cheese plate, roast-beef sliders, and a variety of desserts.
Rudy's Bar & Grill (Casual Neighborhood Bar)
627 Ninth Ave., New York, NY
Settled in the heart of Hell's Kitchen in the thirties, this dive was "discovered" by the cool kids only during the last decade. Old-timers still drink around the bar, but local youngsters, businessmen, and the ubiquitous hipster element now rule the prime-real-estate red-leather booths. The real draw here has always been dirt-cheap booze (order the house brands, Ruby’s Red and Ruby’s Blonde, by the pint or pitcher) or the increasingly rare jukebox, accepting dollars for your enjoyment.
The Dead Rabbit (Irish Pub/Craft Beers)
30 Water St., New York, NY
New York is lousy with world-class cocktail joints, boutique beer bars, and familial Celtic pubs. It’s rare, however, to find all three under one roof. This Fidi saloon from Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry functions as a kind of new-school, tipsy exaltation to Gotham’s legacy of Irish immigrants. Downstairs, in a sawdust-scattered taproom hung with murals of the 69th Regiment, bartenders pour craft brews (the beer menu changes weekly) and glugs of native whiskey (Connemara, Tullamore Dew). Upstairs, McGarry tends to a list of 72 cocktails that may just be the city’s most ambitious: The rigorously historical menu spans punches, absinthe, nogs, slings, smashes, and more, each dutifully footnoted, thoughtfully prepared.
Salon de Ning
The Peninsula Hotel, 700 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10019
You will feel like you’ve stepped into 1930′s Shanghai when you walk into this stylish lounge overlooking Fifth Avenue in Midtown. Chic and sophisticated, the East meets West decor is sure to impress the most discerning guest, whether a date, spouse, client–you get the picture. You’ll feel as cool as a cucumber as you sip on the cocktail of the same name or the signature Nina Sling.
621 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036
This nightlife hotspot is known for large crowds and loud music. The vibe is a bit different on Wednesdays, however, when Hudson Terrace hosts “Wine Down Wednesday,” a selection of 6 wines from various vineyards.
230 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10001
This massive 22,000 square foot rooftop garden has its own enclosed penthouse lounge and an amazing view of the Empire State Building from several different angles. Misting fans are there to keep you cool in the summer, and heat lamps to keep you warm in the cooler months. Share a large plate, or choose something from the extensive bar menu that has everything from sliders to “longtong” vegetarian rice cakes (Herbal sri racha, crispy shallots, garlic and pickled ginger.) Open to the public from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. 365 days a year, reservations are not necessary since the lounge can seat 1,000 patrons at a time. Despite its size, however, this place gets packed.
The Brass Monkey
55 Little West 12th Street, New York, NY 10014
It may be the homey Irish fare or the 90 draft and bottled beers to choose from that make the Brass Monkey a local fave, but it’s the perfectly poured Guinness that keeps patrons coming back to this Meatpacking District bar. We recommend sipping that perfect pint of Guinness outside while taking in a view of the city. The food is good and the drinks are a lot less pricey than many other rooftop bars.
The Crow’s Nest at the Water Club
East River & 30th St, New York, NY 10016
Located on the upper deck of The Water Club, The Crow’s Nest offers a casual outdoor setting with spectacular views of Manhattan and the East River. The outdoor menu offers a decent beer, wine and cocktail selection in addition to pitchers of Sangria and Hawaiians (Malibu & Myer’s rum punch). If you’re hungry, snack on various casual bites, from raw bar items, lobster sliders, chicken and vegetable “buzzitos” (organic tortilla, poblano & red peppers, herbs & spices, pepper jack cheese and Spanish onions), to burgers.
Upstairs at the Kimberly
The Kimberly Hotel, 145 East 50th Street, New York, NY 10022
You may think you’re in Heaven if you find yourself stargazing 30 stories above the Kimberly Hotel at their penthouse lounge. Three separate indoor/outdoor atmospheres complete the 3,000 square foot venue making it possible to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the iconic Chrysler Building in both winter and summer. Eclectic cocktails (including ‘the Electrolyte,’ new for this season) and small plates are served nightly.
Pool Lounge at The Dream Downtown
346 W. 17th St., New York, NY 10011
The latest luxury project from the Chatwal family, The Dream Downtown Hotel and its pool lounge are expected to soft-open on June 15. Operated by TAO Strategic Group (Lavo, Avenue, Marquee), expect a strict door policy before your dreams come true. Promising a South of France vibe, the pool includes a real sand beach and a translucent bottom which can be viewed from the lobby. Look for the rooftop club, PhD, to open soon.
Four at Yotel
570 10th Ave., New York, NY 10036
This futuristic Japanese hotel features the largest outdoor hotel space in the city, with capacity for 400. Snag a cabana with a fire pit or a lounge chair near the DJ booth. Two large bars keep the crowd happy, serving 2-liter growlers of Stella, Sam Adams or Ichiban, along with punches and cocktails such as sake sangria. Although you’re only on the fourth floor, you can still enjoy the fact that you’re high above the throngs of Times Square West.
Gansevoort Park Rooftop
420 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
Bringing a touch of Miami to Park Avenue, the Gansevoort Park Rooftop is officially open for parties this summer. The tri-level roof features an indoor/outdoor pool deck, lounge areas and outdoor balconies with stunning views of the Empire State Building. Operated by Provocateur owners Mike Satsky and Brian Gefter, expect a hot lineup of DJs and a tight velvet rope to get past before you join the fun upstairs.
Jimmy at The James Hotel
15 Thompson St., New York, NY 10013
Sporting teak deck chairs, cotton chaise lounges and a wading pool, Jimmy has a 360-degree view of Soho that stretches to the Brooklyn Bridge. An intimate indoor bar also offers plenty of plush seating. Enjoy drinks like the Mexican Honey Bee (reposado tequila, orange flower, honey, mezcal, lemon and lavender bitters) and prime people-watching.