It’s time to ditch your old stand-by drink, New York. A scintillating new revolution in the art of the cocktail has taken over, and the city has taken notice. Restaurants and bars are expanding their cocktail horizons with ambrosian concoctions that incorporate unique blends, infusions, methods, and ingredients that teeter on the border between bartending and alchemy. We’ve compiled a list of New York’s Top 5 Cocktail Menus that you simply must try out… just check your conventions at the door.
1 Milk & Honey
This intimate speakeasy may have some jumping through hoops to get a chance at one of their famous cocktails. With a reservation-only policy for non-members, a set of house rules to be followed – for example, “Gentlemen will remove their hats. Hat hooks are provided.” – and an emphasis on keeping things hush-hush, Milk & Honey is not your average bar. With drinks that are famous for their sometimes-painstaking methods of preparation, in addition to their creativity and undisputed deliciousness, this spot is NYC’s overachiever. They never use any sort of juice or extract that has not been made by them, they keep their glassware and mixing glasses in a strictly regulated -40C freezer, they count the times they shake and stir their cocktails to ensure perfection, their mineral water ice cubes are hand chipped into wedges, and they pride themselves on using only the finest ingredients and spirits. So, although you might wait a little longer for your drink, it is surely a small sacrifice for the sake of absolute perfection.
134 Eldridge St (btwn. Broome St. & Delancey St.)
New York, NY
2 Theatre Bar
This new Tribeca spot is dramatic in exactly the right way. Albert Trummer, who also brought you Apotheke, has turned a trip to the bar into a night at the theatre. Theatre bar has an extensive cocktail menu with tasty ingredients like hibiscus, fig, zests, freshly meddled organic strawberries, and more, served by helpful and well-versed bartenders. If you’re lucky, you might stop in to find some “extras” behind the bar – special guest bartenders who will undoubtedly create something tantalizing. The greatest thing about the bar, however, may be the show. The bartenders are practiced in flairing, which is sort of like drink preparation acrobatics. Order your concoction then watch as bottles flip, cups are tossed, and ingredients fly. Additionally, Theatre Bar boasts a “Backstage” area, which is part liquor library during the day, with bookshelves containing cocktail manuals and super exclusive liquors, and turns into a bustling dance space at night.
3 Ward III
Although celebrated for their scrumptious high-end bar food, the bar at Ward III has gathered an enormous amount of acclaim all on its own, leading it to draw in some of the city’s hottest bartenders as their customers. Their tempting list of cocktails reveal a focus on spice, quality spirits, and bitters, which are expertly crafted by a skilled set of bartenders armed with muddling sticks. Feeling creative? Flag down one of these the masterminds behind the bar and give them some specifications – flavor, spirit, texture, fruit, spice, etc. – and watch them whip up an ambrosian concoction that’s all your own, with the flair of some truly talented masters of mixology.
111 Reade St. (Btwn. Church St. & Broadway)
New York, NY
The cocktails at Apotheke may be better described as elixirs. With categories of concotions such as Stress Relievers, House Remedies, and Pharmecuticals, this chic spot has been inspired by apothecaries in Europe and the influence of absinthe dens in 19th century France. For those who do not shy away from some indulgent experimentation, Apotheke offers up “prescriptions” for nearly anything, and doling them out with the utmost expertise and quality. Feeling frisky? Order up something from their Aphrodisiacs menu, boasting cocktails made with Champagne and cognac, which have been found to increase arousal, especially when paired with chocolate. With a sprawling list of over 250 house “prescriptions”, there’s something to remedy anything – especially the humdrum of your same old drink.
9 Doyers St., #1
New York, NY
5 Abe and Arthur's
This celebrated Meatpacking hotspot throws it back to the spirit of 1930s and 1940s NYC, with an equally vibrant cocktail menu. Besides a well-curated list of wines and beers, the list also includes Bubbly Cocktails, a collection of some sumptuous ingredients to be mixed with your choice of sparkling wine, champagne, or pink champagne, like the Bohemian Club – Grey Goose Vodka, elderflower, and mint, to be mixed to your sparkly liking. Their house cocktails are sophisticated and equally as playful, like the Naughty Nora – a tantalizing mix of Bombay Sapphire Gin, VeeV acai spirit, raspberry jam, and lime juice. For those with a sweet tooth, or having just dined on the joint’s scrumptious dinner fare, they also offer a Dessert Drinks menu, with am impressive list of sweet wines, ports, single malts, whiskeys, grappas, and more to tease those discerning taste buds of yours.
409 West 14th St.
New York, NY