The cocktail culture, the wine culture, the beer culture, the “lets-get-together-for-a-drink” culture of NYC is a far cry from the dorm-room-mistakes drinking culture I was so eager to get away from. Here, getting a drink means sampling new trends in mixology, trying out a recently opened spot without having to drop bills on a meal, or simpling lingering over wine with friends in a dimly lit room (I think I’ve used up all my usages of that phrase).
Do not get me wrong – I am no nightlife expert. By any stretch of the imagination. My taste runs to interesting bars with comfortable vibes or creative drinks or notable owners. In a strata of New York nightlife somewhere between the Boom Boom Room and Off the Wagon.
Here we go.
Where : The West Village
Vibe: DIMLY LIT (I couldn’t hold back) great little spot off the beaten track, on quiet Perry Street. This classy bar is the good side of the West Village – laid back and low key, but still with the electric charge of a well dressed crowd and a great atmosphere
What to order: Wine and brew operation – big selection of great beers, although I usually just go for a good old Magic Hat #9. Average drink price $9.
Where: The West Village
Vibe: As it says on its website, “a local pub with locally sourced food. ” Wooden tables, wildflowers, mason jars, artisinal grilled cheese and a great crowd. Its works for any time of night – from after work beers at the window seat or crowding around a table late night. Its one of those places that you walk and are like – OH – this is the bar I’ve been looking for.
What to drink: I usually go for a draft beer (Brooklyn Reserve or Laguitnas IPA) but they have wine or great cocktails like well -crafted whisky teas and gin rickeys. SIDE NOTE – will highlight the food, which is awesome, in another post. Average drink price $8.
Location: West Village
Vibe: ” Modern Speakeasy” is a trend that has nearly worn out its welcome, but no one can do them like Sasha Petraske can. Little Branch is the epitome of the bar-owner’s style: unmarked door, incredible mixology, and well dressed bartenders. Stepping down past the unmarked door of this spot is a small, swank cocktail lounge, frequented by celebrities and governed by a list of rules posted in the bathroom, including no name dropping. Bottom line – Little Branch is amazing.
What to drink: While they have a nice drink menu, the real way to go here is “bartender’s choice” – you tell the bartender what kind of liquor you want (except they do not have vodka) and how you like your drink – strong, sweet, fresh, with juice, with bitters, with fruit…and they will mix you up something. DO IT. Also have a GREAT rum called Doorley’s that I like served neat – be careful. Average drink price $14.
Where: West Village (Ok…I realize I don’t go far from home…)
Vibe: Employees Only used to be just that – for employees of the food biz only. Though it now accepts common folk, it retains its exclusive vibe, with dark curtains giving way to a beautiful interior. Its a high-end crowd, (but whatever I go there anyway) with an expert drink menu. Food is also QUITE good. Quintessential West Village.
What to drink: They make a mean dirty martini. Much more creative cocktails on the menu, though, go with one of those. Average drink price $14
Where: East Village (Finally)
Vibe: Another speakeasy, this GEM is hidden behind a sushi restaurant. More dark curtains giving way to a plush lounge. I want to speak so highly of this place, but I was so turned off last time I went when they caused my friends and I to leave because of their groups of 4 and under Japanese traditional rule. We even offered to sit seperately. I SUPPOSE I understand. Anyway, the bartenders are dressed in great old school shirts and ties with arm bands, with great service (if your party is under 4) and a drink menu that will blow your mind
What to order: While things like infused vodkas and herbs in drink have exploded in the past year, Angel’s Share has been doing it and doing it right for a while now. They change their drink menu seasonally. The Earl Grey vodka drink is very popular, but I always go for the Royal Flush- a refreshing combination of vodka, plum wine and cucumber. Average drink price $13
Where: Lower East Side -ish
Vibe : Another Sasha Petraske masterpiece, but its more modern, clean cut and user friendly. Way off the beaten track. I hear they are now serving food. Its just a great spot.
What to order: They opened around the time when absinthe was legalized and becoming more mainstream. They have many varieties in which to serve it. These dranks are STRONG, gang. Average drink price $10.
Wanted to end this in a clever way, but with the irritating amount of features I’ve read with the words “tipple” “imbibe” and “watering hole” in them….i’ll just say enjoy.