50 best spring bars
Tue Mar 22 2011
The Delancey's rooftop grove provides an ideal opportunity to booze while catching a few rays: Grab your gang, order a round of salt-rimmed margaritas ($8) from the machine, and park beside the pond for the best view of the bar's eclectic Lower East Side crowd. There's even a retractable rooftop cover, ensuring that not even a spring shower will force you into one of the cavernous rooms downstairs. 168 Delancey St between Attorney and Clinton Sts (212-254-9920, thedelancey.com)
It may look like a house of worship in old Havana, but El Cobre is a bar where you could easily imagine Ernest Hemingway downing shots. And in the care of bartender Jane Danger, it's easy to submit to the joint's sexy, sultry mood. Her powers of boozy seduction are on full display on the rum-focused spring cocktail list. She eschews heavy drinks with ingredients like cream and egg in favor of light and strong concoctions such as the Concord Corleone. The drink combines Flor de Caa four-year extra-dry rum with the savory malt essence of Bols Genever and the herbal punch of Strega, and then blends in a little lemon juice, simple syrup and fresh concord grapes ($14). 95 Ave A at 6th St (212-614-6818, elcobreny.com)
Located on the fringes of Soho, this bohemian-chic bar and caf's rustic sophistication will charm you immediately: Simple wooden tables and bookshelves loaded with curiosities are drenched in sunshine on bright days. Nab a seat on the wide antique brocade sofa and choose from a selection of mostly Italian wines. We like the Meloni vermentino salike ($9), a dry and crisp organic white with a light acidity that hails from co-owner Nicola Paganelli's homeland of Sardinia. Pair it with the Tagliata di Tonno, a sliced tuna steak with arugula and Parmesan ($18). 200 Mott St between Kenmare and Spring Sts (212-966-0904, epistrophycafe.com)
The Gramercy Terrace at the Gramercy Park Hotel
Forget olives—nothing marries with a martini like a pickled Mexican sour gherkin. Also known as the cucamelon, this tiny vegetable is one of many sprouting in the rooftop garden of this 18th-floor bar. The gherkins appear in early summer, and are then harvested and pickled to briny tartness for your gin or vodka, dirty or dry pleasure ($18). But you don't have to wait until then to sample other libations with homegrown ingredients, such as the Gramercy 75 ($18), a gold-leaf garnished refresher made from champagne, fresh Meyer lemon juice, ginger syrup and vodka. Savor it while relaxing indoors or out, amid lush foliage and underneath a retractable glass roof. 2 Lexington Ave at 21st St (212-201-2171, gramercyparkhotel.com)
Indian Road Caf
If you can't escape the city for the weekend, this rustic bar and caf at the tip of Manhattan is the right place to spend the day pretending the Adirondacks are right outside the door. A straight-from-the-garden Hudson Valley vibe pervades the locavore-centric food-and-drink menus, featuring specialties like sausages from Vincent's Meat Market on Arthur Avenue; Kingston, New York's Keegan Brewery Hurricane Kitty IPA ($6); and Hudson Baby bourbon ($20) from Tuthilltown Spirits. The longer you relax at this earnestly welcoming spot, the harder it becomes to rejoin urban life. 600 W 218th St at Indian Rd (212-942-7451, indianroadcafe.com). Mon--Thu, 7am--10:30pm, Fri--Sat 7am--11:30pm, Sun 8am--10pm.
The well-shaded biergarten in the back is a day-drinking mecca, lined with communal wood tables that provide ample opportunity to chat up strangers. A dozen German drafts are served in bulky liter steins ($12--$16), though slower drinkers might sip their way through a beer flight ($30). If you're at a loss for what to order, try the signature Gaffel Klsch, a light and hoppy brew served in a traditional 0.2-liter glass ($3). It goes down especially smooth on spring weekends, when the tightly packed garden stays buzzing throughout the day and night. 7 Rivington St between Bowery and Chrystie St (212-253-7077, loreleynyc.com). Mon--Thu, Sun noon--2am; Fri--Sat noon--4am.
A wall of glinting floor-to-ceiling windows makes this often-crowded La Quinta Inn bar seem spacious, and the views of Manhattan—particularly the Empire State building—from fourteen floors up is even more jaw-slackening with a bottle of the Grimbergen Double ale ($6). If the throngs of people block your sunlight, just head out to the patio, decorated with a sprinkling of white Christmas lights, multicolored chairs and benches. 17 W 32nd St between Fifth Ave and Broadway (212-290-2460, mebarnyc.com)
The Raines Law Room
Ring the bell of this unmarked speakeasy and avoid the elements with an impeccable cocktail. While the air is still nippy, you can snag an ornate Victorian-inspired seat and sample something whiskey-based like the Ragtime ($13), a warming herbal blend of rye, absinthe and bitters. In a few weeks, the bespoke mood will spill out onto Raines's newly designed patio: an English backyard with vintage outdoor furniture and a revamped herb garden, which will play into the forthcoming spring drink menu. 48 W 17th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (raineslawroom.com)