Every now and then cravings abound for a masterfully created cocktail, and what better way to drink them at the most established lounges in New York City? Surround yourself with the trendy and elite and sip on one (or more) of the cocktails at these mixology mainstays.
With speakeasies popping up left and right as if prohibition was in a not-so-distant past, it may be difficult to separate the wannabe spots from those who get it right. PDT, short for “please don’t tell” is as secluded as they come: accessed from a phone booth in the East-Village hot dog spot Crif Dogs, lies a sexy, tucked-away bar where trendy Manhattanites choose to spend their evenings. With taxidermy adorning the brick- laden walls and hotdogs being served up in a tiny window behind the bar, this isn’t the place to chat it up with strangers, but a cozy joint to sit and relax with friends and indulge in dogs’ and cocktails. Try the Benton’s Old Fashioned, a house favorite made with bacon-infused Bourbon for a smoky, warming flavor. Just make sure to pair it with a zany dog, such as the “Chang dog”, a bacon-wrapped hotdog with kimchi created by renowned chef (and owner of Momofuku), David Chang, for the true PDT experience.
113 St. Marks Place, at 1st Avenue
2 Employees Only
If only Gatsby was still alive- would he frequent Employees Only. This art-deco speakeasy located in the heart of West Village is reminiscent of the 1920’s down to every detail. With a backlit bar and old-world touches such as terraced lighting, overhead luggage racks and a steel-faced fireplace, the dining room elicits a “railroad-chic” feel that attracts only the most trendy and elite. And the gang that brought this establishment to life, (Igor Hadzismajlovic, Jason Kosmas, Bill Gilroy, Dushan Zaric and Henry LaFargue), is seriously committed- the bartenders are found mixing up Pisco Sours and Bloody Mary’s, donning parted hair and handlebar mustaches behind the bar. Try the Provencal Cocktail for a sensory overload as it’s made with Lavender-infused Plymouth Gin, and pair it with the oysters on the half shell for a true 1920’s delight. And this joint even boasts a special late-night menu for those who enjoy an after-hours scene while dining. But don’t get too under the influence throwing back Ginger Smashes- Gatsby may just re-appear in this all-too-convincing atmosphere.
510 Hudson Street
Wandering down a street, confused, looking for an entrance, only to find a hidden door in Chinatown- this is the experience that most share when looking for one of the most prestigious cocktail lounges in New York City, Apotheke. The one-of a kind spot is so aptly reminiscent of European apothecaries one would think they are actually in one, save for that it’s a modern-day bar. With an “opium den-like” atmosphere- the space features a 30-foot performance bar made from imported Carrara marble and red-velvety couches, the ultimate defining characteristic is the hundreds of antique medicine bottles that were collected from all over the world displayed behind the bar, filled with top-notch spirits and liqueurs. And carefully crafting these prescriptions? Mixology masters Nicolas O’Connor, Chris Marshall and Eleuterio Carrillo, who are found in lab-coats serving up cocktails to the likes of Manhattan’s most elite. Try the “Guava Mama” or the “Blackberry Cobbler” for a fresh and delicious palatial zing.
9 Doyers Street #1
4 Experimental Cocktail Club
Not many places in New York City have an edge quite like Experimental Cocktail Club- in that it’s truly experimental in the realm of mixology. Touting a menu consistently updated by the most renowned mixologists in the world, such as Jacob Briars, or as the GM likes to call them “friends of the bar,” ECC’s cocktails are eccentric and unique. Originally a French establishment (there are now seven in Paris, two in London and one in Spain,) the American outpost attracts a large foreign following along with anyone in New York City seeking an trendsetter vibe and party atmosphere; (a table reservation must be made at least a week in advance and only the most exclusive can hold parties in their private cocktail room that is hidden behind the coat check, in true speakeasy fashion.) Make sure to try the “Stockholm Syndrome,” a delicious dill-infused vodka cocktail that is served in a small medicine bottle and make friends with the bartenders if you can- they may just share their latest “experiments” for tasting. Banana-ketchup makes for quite the delicious cocktail.
191 Chrystie Street, between Stanton Street and Rivington Street
5 Milk and Honey
Touted as the bar responsible for creating the speakeasy movement that has since spread like wildfire, Milk and Honey was the original. Created by Sasha Petraske back in 2000 at its original LES outpost, the secret bar operated with an unlisted phone number and was completely devoid of a party atmosphere; (the owner is known to have a true aversion to anything celebrity.) Now, operating out of a larger space at the newer Flatiron location, the bar bumped its measly 24 seats to 66 and allows for walk-ins, where it previously called on reservations. With 1920’s music and Art-Nouveau fixtures, along with Victorian touches, the space is as prohibition-chic as it gets. But don’t expect to be handed a cocktail menu like the average joint. At Milk and Honey each and every cocktail is meticulously crafted according to tastes and preferences of the customer by the knowledgeable mixologists behind the bar. Trés chic.
30 East 23rd Street, between Madison Avenue and Park Avenue South