Whether shaken or stirred, each of Luxury Attaché’s top martini picks is absolutely perfect, from that first smooth sip, to the long, luxurious finish.
1 Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle
A dash of whimsy meets old world charm at this NYC staple. Housed in the historic Carlyle Hotel, the 24-karat gold-leaf covered ceiling, dramatic black granite bar, and lest one forget the playful, dynamic murals celebrating Ludwig Bemelmans himself, set the stage for smooth cocktails and truly serious martinis. A nightly jazz set draws politicians, Manhattan’s elites and sophisticates alike, while Bemelmans’ classic takes on this beloved tipple--like the Vesper, a silky smooth mixture of vodka, gin and lillet, that’s shaken not stirred--keeps them coming back for more.
35 East 76th Street at Madison Avenue
2 Death and Company
In what is perhaps the best example of a true NYC cocktail den--think dimly lit, lair-like and hidden amongst the bar-studded streets of the East Village--there lies a truly spirited take on the martini, or rather, several. Head ‘tender, Thomas Waugh serves up his creative, dead-on riffs of the original in six ounce glasses, preserving the remainder in chilled carafes. The classic is seductive as well, made with Plymouth Gin, dry Vermouth and a lemon twist, served over perfectly shaped ice cubes, the floral vapor it exudes is almost too good to consume. While the large, brooding doors leading into the joint may be off-putting at first, the martinis are anything but.
433 East Sixth Street, between Avenue A and First Avenue
3 Employees Only
Sure, their lab coats may draw quizzical looks from any first timers at this iconic West Village cocktailery, but there’s no question they make a mean martini. In one of the most creative infusions on the NYC scene, The Provencale combines gin steeped in lavender with herbs de Provence-infused dry Vermouth, stirred up with a refreshing hit of Cointreau. The herbaceous, sweet meets savory flavors reach every tastebud, drawing classic martini-diehards to convert on the spot. Still not convinced? Start with the Vesper, a cool blend of Tito’s Vodka, Hendrick’s Gin and Cocchi Americano Aperitivo, before heading out into more creative waters.
510 Hudson Street, between Tenth and Christopher Streets
4 Pegu Club
It’s sexy, it’s seductive, and it’s relatively hidden--the bar that is, not the splendid, flavor-forward cocktails. Fresh ingredients and creative takes on classic favorites are the name of Audrey Saunders’ game, and there’s no better example than her famed Earl Grey MarTEAni. Garnished with a fragrant lemon peel and served up in glass half-rimmed with sugar, she takes this drink to new heights of frothy perfection by infusing Tanqueray gin with loose-leaf Earl Grey tea before shaking it mightily with lemon juice and a single egg white. With a never-ending array of options in which to imbibe, this SoHo standout remains at the head of the game.
77 West Houston Street, between Wooster and West Broadway
Uptown, downtown and in between, one is never too far from Cipriani. With staying power unlike this city has ever seen, Cipriani draws on spectacular service standards, old world meets new world charm, and unrivaled food and beverage programs. With influences from the famed Harry’s Bar in Venice, certain staples, combining both authentic Italian favorites and unique namesake specialties draw a chic crowd of power lunchers, ladies who lunch, and the NYC elite. The martini, like the famed Bellini, is a consistent draw, with several machinations infusing both vodka and gins and added flavor profiles such as a refreshingly tart meets sweet apple riff. When it comes to Cipriani, though, there’s nothing like the original, (like their smooth mix of Stoli Elite and vermouth) which is as classically perfect as is the restaurant (well, restaurants that is) itself.