700 East Ninth Street at Avenue C
Cocktails at The Wayland in Alphabet City scream experimental: one of their signature cocktails is made with “smoked ice,” made by pulling smoke through water prior to freezing it. The team spends hours each day prepping a range of bitters, sodas and syrups in unique flavors including radish, Key lime and spiced apple. The end result: delicious concoctions including the Apple Pie Moonshine (homemade spiced apple bitters and applewood smoke) and The Barnesville (bourbon, angostura bitters, simple syrup, pumpkin, egg white). It’s decorated with salvaged wood from a nearby school and local musicians play bluegrass, indie rock and American roots. Great young chefs serve up rustic small plates and fresh, raw oysters.
Booker & Dax
207 East Second Avenue, near 13th Street
Booker & Dax has taken over the back area of Momofuku Ssam, the space that formerly housed Milk Bar and, briefly, Bar Bar. The new cocktail lounge is a concept by Momofuku owner, David Chang, and the French Culinary Institute’s director of culinary technology, Dave Arnold. The bartenders here may as well swap their aprons for lab coats – the beverages at Booker & Dax are made using a range of scientific techniques and high-tech gadgetry. Perhaps the most buzzed-about is the Friend of the Devil, a mixture of rye, Campari, sweet vermouth, Pernod and bitters, that is stabbed with a 1,500-degree, red-hot poker to caramelize the sugar in the booze. Sounds sweet. Also on the to-do list for the bar staff: in-house carbonation and distillation and the regular use of a rotary evaporator and centrifuge to mix drinks. Chilling glasses in a fridge is old news here, the range of drinkware is cooled on the spot by a shot of liquid nitrogen.
339 East 75th Street, between First and Second Avenues
The team behind Midtown speakeasy JBird, which debuted last year, have opened a second location on the Upper East Side. This branch has been dubbed as a “drink bistro” and will offer a food menu including quail egg-topped sliders filled with pork shoulder braised in cider and a nine-spice lamb chop with saffron & fregola. The drink menu will showcase innovative takes on classics – a rye Manhattan touched up with chamomile grappa and elderflower bitters and Old Fashioneds like the gin/kaffir lime/celery bitters Thornybush, and the anejo/cherry bark & vanilla bitters/sage-infused agave/mezcal Brush of the Bush. Want to know more about what you’re sipping on? Just ask. The team is well-versed in the history behind these classic cocktails, complete with anecdotes and quirky facts.
5 Ninth Avenue, between Little West 12th and Gansevoort Streets
Quaint Meatpacking Restaurant 5Ninth has converted its third floor space into a stealth cocktail lounge. The bar offers a range of cocktails and a 13-drink list of Manhattans, including the Midnight in Manhattan(coffee infused rye, cognac, Punt e Mes, Averna, lemon oils) and the Meatpacking (The District) (bourbon, sweet vermouth, Cynar, chorizo tincture). Small bites, such as chicken liver mousse and steak tartare are also available. The top floor of this 19th-century building has rustic exposed brick walls and is complemented with a mix of retro/modernist furnishings and vintage accents.
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