5 Best Craft Cocktails In NYC

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Winter blues? Cabin fever? We’ve got the remedy for just about any cold weather ailment, thanks to our friends in NYC’s booming craft cocktail business. But first, a review of some of our very favorite establishments, new and old.

Where do we even begin? So much has happened in the past few years in terms of Manhattan’s cocktail scene. Speakeasies stood front and center, drawing novice and expert sippers alike to the likes of Little Branch and its shinier Midtown sister, Middle Branch, the Raines Law Room’s ever-expanding empire with newest additions Dear Irving and The Bennett, Attaboy with its stubborn no-menu policy…we could go on. While we don’t see the speakeasy vibe dying down anytime soon, it may be worth noting that we’re now seeing trends falling in favor of a truly excellent restaurant bar. It’s become imperative for any successful dining establishment in New York City and beyond to put forth a beverage program with attention to detail as precise as that of its kitchen, and the shift has not gone unnoticed. We’ve seen the old-school NYC favorites hold steady with their respectably simple yet serious cocktail menus (here’s looking at that Murray Sour, Minetta Tavern) and the new wave rival its predecessors, capturing a level of cocktailry both paying homage to tradition and pushing boundaries like never before. Michael White’s Vaucluse materialized on the Upper East Side, marrying his signature fine dining (this time French) with a veritable beverage program featuring exquisite cocktails in equally stunning glassware; ZZ’s continues to hold the gold standard for both creativity and presentation; The Clocktower opened with a bang, reshaping Flatiron’s cocktail culture and appealing to the fashion crowd with a taste for great libations. The common factor between old and new is now the cocktail hands down, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Check out our picks for NYC’s most notable cocktails of the season.

1 Kapua Ma | Musket Room

Among this Michelin starred NoLIta gem’s newest cocktails, the Kapua Ma is an ode to Musket Room’s New Zealand roots, meaning “white cloud” in Maori and living up to its name with a beautiful, pillowy froth accented by aromatic bitters. Rum, cognac, orange, lemon, and egg whites come together for a perfectly balanced cocktail in a chilled coupe – best when enjoyed at either the bar in the company of the delightful staff, or at the window seat for optimal lighting. This one’s definitely Instagram-worthy.
265 Elizabeth Street between East Houston and Prince Streets

2 Plank-Smoked Old Fashioned | American Cut

NY Daily News
Chef Marc Forgione’s TriBeCa steakhouse is an oasis of dry-aged beef and killer cocktails, the most noteworthy being its plank-smoked old fashioned. Sit back and watch the entrancing process as AC’s prime barkeeps set a maple plank on fire, capturing the smoke inside an upended rocks glass and allowing it to sit for a moment. The glass is then turned right side up, and the remaining components (Wild Turkey bourbon, caster sugar, and house bitters, which we’re told contain Marcona almonds, hazelnut, cacao, allspice, chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon). Now that’s an old fashioned.
363 Greenwich Street between Franklin and Harrison Streets

3 Forbidden Dance | The NoMad

This has got to be our hands-down number one favorite tiki cocktail in the entire city – something we don’t take lightly. And while it may no longer be on the NoMad Bar’s current menu, if ordered, the staff will happily oblige. The beautifully complex drink features perhaps the highest number of ingredients of all that made this list, featuring house vanilla syrup and orgeat, velvet falernum, fresh juices of lime and pineapple, amontillado sherry, Bols genever, and aquavit, garnished with freshly grated nutmeg and a mint plouche. Upon shaking, the Forbidden Dance is double-strained into a stately tiki mug over crushed ice and served to its proud new owner.
1170 Broadway between 27th and 28th Streets

4 Wiz Fizz | Seamstress

We’re taking it uptown with this unbelievably smooth sipper, the brainchild of Pamela Wiznitzer, namesake and reigning cocktail queen of the Upper East Side. Served nice and tall, the famed fizz is not for the faint of heart: with Aviation Gin, Cynar, vanilla, lemon, egg white, cream, and root beer, the rich, slightly effervescent drink serves as the perfect ending to even the heaviest of meals. Pull up a seat at the curtain-enclosed bar toward the front and enjoy alongside an order of oysters Rockefeller or crispy potato wedges with black garlic dip.
339 East 75th Street between First and Second Avenues

5 Drunken Dragon’s Milk | Macao

TriBeCa takes the cake yet again with this exotic East Asian import, masterminded by the crew behind Employees Only. Creamy sweetness is offset by savory earthy tones in this mashup of Charbay green tea vodka, young coconut purée, lime juice, pandan syrup, and fresh Thai basil, shaken and served tall (unstrained) in a Collins. Don’t miss out on the kitchen’s specialties, either – Macao’s hoisin barbecue spiced hakka noodles are worth the trip alone, especially with late night dinner service stretching into the wee hours of the night.
311 Church Street between Walker and Lispenard Streets
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